Hills and Harbour
Christchurch isn't a surfing mecca, but one beach will put up a challenge, writes Blayne Slabbert .
The winding, narrow road down to Taylors Mistake beach is both enticing and frustrating for a surfer.
It's tempting to sneak a peek through the houses and trees to check the waves, but the tricky road needs constant attention.
It's not until the final, tight bend that you get a chance to see the beach and start checking how good the waves are.
More often than not, if the conditions are right, it's worth paddling out for a surf as it usually has the best waves in Christchurch.
Being a surfer in Christchurch is hard. The water is cold, our waves lack oomph and we don't have any world-class pointbreaks on our doorstep. However, we do have Taylor's Mistake.
When you surf there with an overhead northeast swell early on a summer's day before the sea breeze gets up, it can be magic.
While surfers appreciate why everyone else loves the beach - quaint baches, rolling hills and clean water - it's the pushy waves that matter the most to those who ride them.
Sumner and New Brighton's low profile beaches produce soft waves. But Taylors is steep, so when the swell hits, waves pack more of a punch.
It's not exactly like the powerful waves that hit Hawaii, but on a big swell on a low tide there is a good chance at least a few people will break their boards.
Like any surf break, Taylors needs certain conditions to produce good waves. It's best on a northeast swell that has a lot of peaks, rather than long lines of waves that can close out.
The waves break fast and they pitch out from the top, making taking off difficult, but also offering up barrels that surfers can ride through.
The quality of the waves also depend on the sandbanks. A-shaped banks are the best so the waves peel nicely.
There are three semi-permanent banks at Taylors - one at each end and one in the centre.
This is where the surfers tend to gather as they hunt for waves that will peel all the way to the beach.
The other factor is the wind. Taylors breaks best with an offshore wind - a westerly. However, it can handle winds from the northwest to the southwest and it's also the only beach in Christchurch that is close to surfable in a northeasterly.
Most people who surf at Taylors ride shortboards, ranging from about 5'6" to 6' 6", which are best for the fast-breaking waves. Most surfers who ride longboards (8'+) tend to prefer Sumner or New Brighton.
When the swell hits, up to 50 surfers can be out jostling for waves, making the small beach feel as crowded as a summer's day at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
However, a dawn surf in autumn with only a few other people out can be a calming, back-to-nature experience.
One recent challenge for surfers is finding a car park. The re-opening of the Godley Head track has attracted big crowds and finding a park while heading out for a quick afternoon surf can be frustrating.
Taylors Mistake is not the best spot to learn to surf, it's best to stick to Sumner.
But if you are good enough to give it a go, try paddling out at the far ends of the beach where the waves are more forgiving and don't forget to show respect to the local surfers.
- © Fairfax NZ News