Sam Judd
Comment on the environment from nzherald.co.nz columnist Sam Judd

Sam Judd: The story of a cyclone

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Surfing on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in the wake of cyclone Victor. Photo / Sam Judd
Surfing on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in the wake of cyclone Victor. Photo / Sam Judd

I think we live in the best place in the world.

Summertime really is the time that most of us get to truly enjoy the vast natural capital that we are so lucky to have.

Today I thought that a story about how awesome the New Zealand coastline is would be appropriate, because what is not to love out here?

With debate largely over about whether climate change is a real issue due to the massive scientific consensus which agrees that it is real, much of the focus is on what can we do about it?

A big priority for aid funding is to support those that suffer the most risk. Such people are undoubtedly our Pacific Island neighbours. The Pacific is by far the most volatile ocean already when it comes to storms, which are growing in intensity and regularity at an alarming rate - a phenomenon that many attribute to hotter surface temperatures that are human-caused.

When the islands are low-lying, such as those that recently got lashed by Tropical Cyclone Victor, the massive wind and waves of storms can be particularly devastating.

The perverse thing about a cyclone that crosses to the north of New Zealand, is that many people enjoying the East Coast have cause to rejoice.

It sends waves for surfers into places that are often flat and can push in the warm, blue tropical waters, allowing for better diving visibility and more pelagic fish to catch.

It is no wonder that clever people in New Zealand are making noise about how we can support climate refugees: while Victor wreaked havoc in the northern Cook Islands and Niue, I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, with amazing waves that required no wetsuit in front of a volcanic spring that can turn into a natural spa pool at low tide.

But this was no ordinary weather pattern. Most of the cyclones that bring swell to New Zealand dissipate in the colder waters of our south. This one got 'squashed' by high-pressure systems on either side of it (which meant that we had scorching, calm weather), which held it in place so that it kept pumping out waves.

For surfers, this is a dream come true, but for those who are not feverishly watching the weather, it can be extremely dangerous. Sadly several people died during this swell, when they were not expecting the size and intensity of the waves.

Following Coromandel, I managed to get myself into the Hauraki Gulf on a boat with Clarke Gayford, who is making a new sustainability-minded fishing show called Fish of the Day.

As we were exiting the harbour, we stumbled across a bunch of idiots who had taken their boat too close to the surf and been swamped. We towed them back in as the law of the sea demands - if a vessel is in strife, you must give assistance. Our good deed done, we enjoyed amazing surf and the best diving visibility I have had in New Zealand.

Sam Judd with the kingfish he caught in the Hauraki Gulf.
Sam Judd with the kingfish he caught in the Hauraki Gulf.

The waters from Victor had brought the kingfish in with them, which were well within spearfishing reach. I love spearfishing as it is a very selective way of catching seafood, great exercise and it really makes you appreciate how beautiful it can be underwater, which for me, gives me a lot of motivation to look after it.

When you catch kingfish though, it must be shared. So I went to an excellent barbecue held at Only Fools and Horses out in Muriwai - an ideal spot for small groups to stay with an awesome public pool and swimming school providing a timely relief from the heat.

Cleaning up Muriwai Beach on a summer's evening. Photo / Sam Judd
Cleaning up Muriwai Beach on a summer's evening. Photo / Sam Judd

A group of us then decided to give something back to the coast and ran a small clean-up, where I was dismayed at how many pre-mixed bourbon and cola cans we found. I heard that these filthy drinks are present at most domestic abuse cases that the police attend which is hardly surprising given the sugary, barely refined alcohol they contain. The surprising part for me is why these awful concoctions are legal given all the harm they cause.

I was treated to excellent music from Laughton Kora, Aroha and Pdiggs an excellent group of talent indeed.

Silo Park on Auckland's waterfront, scene of the 2016 Laneway Music Festival. Photo / Sam Judd
Silo Park on Auckland's waterfront, scene of the 2016 Laneway Music Festival. Photo / Sam Judd

Following this - I was treated to an epic Auckland event on the waterfront down at Silo Park which was St Jeromes' Laneways Festival. This area has been activated wonderfully over the past five years by Fresh Concept and Angus Muir Design and it was simply great to be part of the seething masses that enjoyed the waterfront space on the day.

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