Massive swell hits Northland's coast

By Staff reporters

The ripple effect of a tropical cyclone in the Pacific Ocean is being felt in Northland with swells of up to 7m pounding the region's coastline.

Despite the choppy seas, a few brave souls ventured out for a surf at popular spots such as Woolley Bay on the Tutukaka Coast yesterday.

Jordan Hicks, of Kensington, decided to brave the huge swell at Woolley Bay despite being the sole surfer in the water.

The former Kamo High School bodyboarding champion put his skills to use in the pumping surf, which closed out fast, making it difficult to gain momentum.

"I was out at Ocean Beach on Tuesday but it was too big to go out in. It's a bit cleaner here so I thought I would come out and catch the end of the swell ... it's pretty heavy out there," the 24-year-old said.

Mr Hicks, who recently returned from Taranaki on a surfing road trip, said he bodyboarded regularly and this was the biggest swell he had seen in Northland in a while.

Waves of more than 4m were reported in the Bay of Islands.

While there were no reports of damage, a few vessels broke their moorings in yesterday's rough southeasterly and had to be secured.

There were reports of big surges washing over the Brampton Reef off the northern Waitangi coast early in the day but not the clean break that might normally attract surfers.

"It's rough and wild and no one in their right mind would be out today," said Tim Roffey, the president of Bay of Islands Coastguard.

Ferry and sightseeing operator Fullers operations manager Barry Nielson said the company ran limited services yesterday because of the conditions.

WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan said a small low sitting off the Northland coast would bring mostly showers until early next week.

The big swells, he said, were generated from a cyclone in Fiji but would ease next week.

Dive Tutukaka has had to cancel trips to the Poor Knights because of swells of up to 3m and gusts of between 35 and 40 knots.

Employee Laura Harron said winds appeared to be dying down a bit but the huge swells meant it was not comfortable to dive or anchor on the islands.

In Ruakaka, the annual fishing competition run by the town's fire brigade was postponed as swells of up to 6m were experienced.

Brigade media officer Jeff D'Ath said visitors planning water activities during their trip north over the long weekend should wait a few more days until the weather settled.

The Far North again hunkered down under a heavy dumping of rain in the fall-out of several fronts bumping together.

As forecast, the rain expected from the meeting of low pressure fronts and the remains of tropical cyclone Daphne remained below earlier warning levels and eased later yesterday, Far North District communications manager Richard Edmondson said.

However, the authorities were still advising people to monitor weather forecasts and to take care when travelling, especially in exposed areas where wind gusts or surface flooding could make driving conditions hazardous.

- Northern Advocate

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