Mount Maunganui has long been known for its surf breaks but it was a different kind of surfing making waves at the beach on the weekend.

Adaptive Surfing is being offered to anyone with an impairment who wants to attempt surfing.

Dave MacCalman from the Halberg Foundation said it was an initiative of Surfing New Zealand and it had been opened up for anyone to come to the Mount and try surfing.

The surfing initiative appealed to people with a wide range of disabilities.


"I see amputees, short stature, paraplegics, wheelchair users, so a variety," MacCalman said.

Luke Darby, a competitive adaptive surfer for New Zealand, said the word "adaptive" was used because people had to adapt their way to traditional standing surfing.

"If you're missing a leg, they might kneel or they might have an adaption to stand," he said.

"Adaptive surfing in New Zealand is fledgling. It's only been going just over two years and, at the moment, we're just trying to find people who want to give it a go."

Overseas, the sport had popular enough for a world championship to be set up. As more instructors get trained around New Zealand, it was expected there would be more opportunities to give it a go.

But for most people at the Mount beach, it wasn't about winning a gold medal but simply about having fun.

Ten-year-old Brooke Parker said she loved it "so much."

"I've been out here with my friends before and they were teaching me how to surf and I just love surfing now," Brooke said.


John Gretton grew up in Gisborne and surfed regularly when he was younger.

"About nine years ago I broke my neck mountain biking and haven't tried since then. I've got hopes of making a sport out of it," he said.

Gretton said the experience was great fun, but tiring.

"My balance wasn't as good as I expected. Because it's quite wide I thought I'd be able to balance quite well but it's kind of a combination of trying to balance the boat and my upper body at the same time."

Eleven-year-old McKenna Foot was cheered on by her grandmother and mother, Leah.

"It's a great opportunity," Leah said. "They don't often get opportunities like that, to be able to do such things.

"It's pretty scary when you're putting your kid into situations that you have no control over. But to have so many people and so much help, it's really reassuring. She loves the water and she'd definitely be keen to come again."

Bruce Campbell, a member of New Zealand's adaptive team, was also a keen volunteer.

"The future of adaptive surfing, hopefully, is for all the competitors to get together and end up with a world tour where we're traveling to the different countries, surfing the same sort of breaks as the main tours."

Adaptive surfing was a hit with Mount locals and onlookers, impressed by the generosity of the volunteers and the bravery of the surfers. Some of whom went home dreaming about future gold medals.

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