A surf therapy initiative that is helping improve mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand rural communities is set to return at beaches across the country.
Surfing for Farmers is back for its fourth season across 21 locations this summer.
Thousands of farmers around the country have taken part in the initiative, which was launched in Gisborne in 2018 by Stephen Thomson.
The Surfing for Farmers programme gives farmers and growers the opportunity to step away from what can be an all-consuming business, get out on the water for a surf, enjoy a BBQ and share stories with others in the rural community.
All equipment and coaching is provided free of charge.
Thomson said it had been fantastic to see the growth of the programme.
"As we approach the kick-off of our fourth season, we are excited to be back, bigger and
better than last year.
"Over the winter months, everyone has been busy organising all the logistics in the background. It's amazing to see the growth of Surfing for Farmers running in 21 locations all over New Zealand coastlines."
He said the mental health of those in the rural community continued to be an issue.
"It's been heartening to get such positive feedback from farmers and growers who tell us
what a difference getting off the farm and into the surf can make."
The Surfing for Farmers initiative is supported by Ballance Agri-nutrients, Bayley's, Beef + Lamb NZ, Meridian Energy, Jarden and Rabobank.
Thomson said he was keen to see numbers grow even more this summer.
"Surfing for Farmers is for everyone. We hope our regulars will pick up a neighbour and
bring them down – and for first-timers - come and have a go."
Fir more information and to check out an event in your area, head to the Surfing for Farmers website.