A string of pearler days are tailor-made for hitting the water, but about 15 children have spent the week at Lake Pupuke trying to avoid just that, by taking windsurf lessons.

Onlooking parents Philip and Heather Skelton put their three children on the Mad Loop holiday course at Takapuna because "we live in the City of Sails and it's fun".

Mr Skelton windsurfed himself in the 1970s, when the sport was fairly new, and reckoned he was pretty good, "but I haven't been on one in 10 years so I might fall off now".

The children are in no such danger - by day three of their windsurfing class some were starting to look like a threat to Barbara Kendall.

Gwen Lemon, 15, emigrated from the United States with her family a month ago, "for the ocean lifestyle".

A competitive sailor in her homeland, she wasted no time finding the water here, albeit on a windsurfer rather than a boat.

"The lake is a good place to learn because if you fall off you can just drift to the shore and the wind is more consistent. We lived in Colorado, which was landlocked, and half the time the wind was just dead."

Gwen plans to get back into sailing as soon as possible, and said she would try to talk her parents into buying a second-hand windsurfer.

Mad Loop owner Alan McIntosh said he set up the training school about 12 years ago, instructing anyone from 6 years up. His oldest trainee was a man in his 80s.