Friday, June 17, 2011

Brrrr, its that time of year where the temperatures start to drop and the only ones out on the water are the die-hard kiters.
I was out yesterday for a mean 3 hour session, but my toes were pretty numb with the cold when I came in.  When I got back I saw an e-mail from Matt Patton President of HeatedWetsuits.Com.  They have just come out with a heated undersuit to wear while kitesurfing (and other water activities).
I've not seen one myself, but I am interested, especially with snow season coming up.  (Don't forget Wanakite 2011 starts August 29th!)
They video claims that the battery pack sits in a place that doesn't interfere with your harness, which if true, would be awesome because that was the problem I had with the Quicksilver heated vest. 
Anyway, they are offering free delivery to New Zealand and with the strength of the NZ dollar right now its probably the best time to get one!
If I end up buying one I'll give a full review on its performance for both snow and water kiting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10th Annual Moose Meet 2010

So the annual Moose meet, held at a secret location off Muriwai beach was a complete success this year.  Filled with sunny days, and gentle thermal winds, there was plenty to do include kite buggy, SUP, kiteboard in the lagoon and lie on the beach and sunbathe.
Plummet wowed us all with his 24 hour landboard record, and achieved an amazing cumulative distance of over 200km!

This is a great event of camping and kiting with like minded people and the perfect way to get introduced to some of the other types of kiting such as landboarding and buggying.  
The winds were even light enough that we too out our SUP's and our biggest kites for a session, but lets just say we quit that one pretty quickly :)
With scenery like this, how can you resist coming next year!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wanakite 2010 Snowkiting Event

Having just returned from Wanakite 2010, I can honestly say that it was one of the best snowkiting experiences I have even been to.  We were lucky in that it was windy for 8 of the 9 days I was there, meaning that I got to kite every day and experience so many different kites, conditions and terrains.

Armed with my digital camera I took a quick video showing the conditions and scenery on one of the days:

The views were amazing, and there was plenty of space to go out and do your own thing.

The breathtaking scenery went on for miles and miles in every direction and you could never get bored of the views:

I believe that snowkiting is much easier to learn than water kiting, as you don't have to worry about board skills and sinking in the water, so if you are thinking about taking up kitesurfing the I highly suggest coming out to Wanakite 2011 next year to get some experience and meet some fantastic people!

Kitesurfing Storms

Wow, well we are at the tail end of this huge storm that's passing by and I will admit to having kitesurfed most of the storm.

Some of you may think its a stupid idea to kite in a storm, and I agree.
I am constantly reminded of the video that is famous on youtube of the kitesurfer in Florida who smashed himself into many little pieces while trying to kitesurf in a hurricane, and we all know the inherent risks of kiting even in stable conditions.
The winds in Auckland for the last week have averaged around 30 knots with gusts over 60 knots.  This makes kiting unpredictable and kite control virtually impossible at some points.
I decided to kite in these conditions, fully understanding the risks involved and minimising them as much as possible by:
1 - Flying the smallest kite possible (I ended up borrowing a 5m and a 7m kite which are smaller than what I would usually fly).
2 - Kiting far away from land and obstacles (the risk of lofting was high, so I tended to stay 1km away from land just in case I was picked up and dropped).
3 - Telling friends where I was and when to expect me off the water (that way, if I did get into trouble, hopefully there would be somebody out looking for me).

There were several accidents and some close calls during the storm riding, where many experienced and heavier riders were thrown around with the big gusts.

My advice is to always kite to the conditions and within your capabilities.  If you are new to kiting, then don't go out where the difference between the average wind speed and the gusts are large as this is when you are most likely to get into trouble.
If you are new to a beach, ask some local kiters about the hazards known around that beach, some of these may not be apparent.

Point Chevalier has hidden sand bars full of sharp oyster shells which you can't see at high tide, but you can easily cut yourself if you land on one as the tide is going out.
St Heliers is fun a low tide, but has a very small landing zone at high tide and a busy road close by, so make sure you know when the tide changes are and when its time to come in.
So I chose to ride the storm, and here is a photograph of me kiting at St Heliers last weekend.  You can see the changeable weather pattern and I can attest to the challenging conditions that day.

Storm kiting can be fun, but it can also be incredibly dangerous, make sure you know where your safety releases are and take out the appropriate kite for the conditions.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So its wintertime and I love New Zealand because you can water kite all year round (with a good wetsuit).
But for those of us who want a seasonal change, its snowkiting time!!!

Snowkiting is just kitesurfing, but replace the water with snow and your kiteboard with a snowboard or skis.
You can use your regular inflatable kite to fly in the snow, however I prefer to fly open foil kites (I fly Ozone Frenzy and Manta kites).
I used to fly my inflatables on snow, but there are so many sharp hazards, (ice, rocks) that I didn't want to damage my water kite. Also, open foil kites are really easy for solo launch and set up, you don't need to carry a pump around and they have great safety systems.

Snowkiting hurts if you get your landings wrong, water is very forgiving, snow not so much, that big ice patch that you will inevitably land on - not at all!
However snowkiting is a great way to learn kitesurfing, as you don't have to worry so much about board control and sinking in the water, but you can concentrate more on flying the kite and learning about the power zones.

There are places to kite on both the North and South Island in New Zealand, and if you want to hang out with a group of crazy snowkiters (including me) then WANAKITE is the event for you.

Snowkiting is just as fun and addicting as the water stuff, and perfect if you don't want to board in busy places or pay for the chair lifts.
Remember to ensure you have permission to kite on the land you choose, check for overhead powerlines or other obstacles and stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where is your safety?

So you have seen where your safety release is, that red plastic thing that is hanging off your bar, but do you know how to use it?  I mean really know, in a "help I'm drowning" type situation?  Do you push away or pull towards you, is it a quick release system, or a slow depower?
Trust me, when you need to use it, you won't have time to think about where it is or how to work it.
I always suggest pulling your safety several times before you need it - even on the beach with your lines in front of you so you have the muscle memory of where it is and which way to maneuver it.
This is especially true if you get a new kite or ride several kites of different manufacturers.
I write this because I had to pull my safety recently, and I am so glad that I had practiced this release before, so when I needed it in an emergency I could pull it and immediately be out of danger.
It was a windy day, with storms predicted when I hit the beach.  I got there to see the big guys riding around on their 9m kites, but the wind seemed to be dying at around 15 knots so I pumped up my 11m Ozone C4.  I like being overpowered, so I thought I would take the risk and fly a bigger kite so I could pop a few tricks, rather than just cruise on an underpowered kite.
Once I got out on the water, I saw a few flashes of sheet lightning, really I should have got off the water at this stage, but I was so keen to kite that I hoped it would pass.
Out of nowhere came this huge hail storm and the wind just whipped up from 15 to over 35 knots in a second!  I tried to hold my kite down in the window, but couldn’t keep it there, and I felt myself losing control.  I tried to dig my feet into the mud, but I wasn’t strong enough or heavy enough to hold my kite down, and I was being dragged inshore. 
I looked to my left and saw a guy get lofted then dropped on some rocks, lofted again then put in a tree.  I made a split second decision to pull my safety and the drama was over.  My kite depowered instantly and I was able to walk back in to shore and assess the situation.  I felt in control and safe because I knew where my safety was and how to use it.  The procedure was textbook and I was happy to be safe with an undamaged kite.
So if you haven’t checked your safety in a while, just give it a quick go, check there is no sand in there or it hasn’t rusted over.
Trust me, when you need it – you will be glad you did J

Monday, April 26, 2010

Self Launching your kite

I watched a newbie crash his kite across the road and into a parked car today while trying to self launch.  Luckily for him there was nobody driving or walking along the road.
With winter coming  you can no longer rely on having somebody out there to launch your kite for you when you hit the beach, so self launching is a skill that everybody needs.
There are two ways to self launch, on the beach and in the water.
Most of the beaches in Auckland have lots of shells and bladder-popping hazards, so I don't tend to beach-launch here, however if you are traveling to some far off island with white sand and have good kite control, then take a look at this video

My biggest tip for beach launching is to make sure you have enough sand on your wingtip - otherwise you may end up in trouble when a gust hits your kite and you are not ready.

In New Zealand I tend to drift launch myself - the most common hazard in drift launching is tangling of your lines.
1 - Set up your kite, bar and lines on the beach in the same way that you would do normally if somebody was going to launch you.  This time take extra care to ensure your lines are not tangled, I usually walk my lines again just to double check.
2 - Hook in to your bar and carefully wrap your lines back up around your bar leaving couple of meters slack at the end.
2a - If you don't like wrapping your lines up, you can do this at the waters edge (if the beach is not too shelly), hook in and walk to your kite, follow the same instructions below, watching that your trailing lines don't catch on anything.
3 - Turn your kite over one half turn, remembering which way you turned it - I always flip my kite over right side to left.
4 - Walk out into the water, and start to unravel  your lines as you walk away, so that your lines are starting to be left behind you.  Do this slowly enough that they are not going to tangle on each other and you can see them floating behind you.
5 - When you have ensured that you have walked out far enough to accommodate the length of your lines and some buffer space (I try to go at least 50m out, if its shallow enough), flip your kite over in the opposite way that you turned it on the beach (in my case I would go left back to right).  Place the kite in the water with the leading edge facing you and push it downwind and away from you with a little twist so that by the time the kite drifts to the end of the lines the leading edge will be facing away from you.
6 - The wind should now grab the kite and you can launch in the same way that you would for a normal water re-launch.

Things to watch for:
Make sure you have enough space for your kite to float to the end of your lines AND extra buffer to allow for any unforeseen events.
Make sure the area is clear of kiters, rocks, obstacles of any kind that your lines could get tangled on.
Watch your lines float behind you as you unwravel them, its usually easy to see if there is a twist or a knot and you can abort easily while you still have your kite.
Keep your board behind you, I have seen people try this and their line gets caught on their board powering up their kite into a kiteloop!
Check your lines and check them again, the last thing you need is crossed lines and an uncontrollable kite after you have let it go.  We all want to get out fast when the wind is good, but take the extra time to ensure you are safe rather than rushing out there :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

What size kiteboard?

So I was chatting to a few newbies last weekend, both who bought kite gear without really knowing anything about what they were buying.  They both had pretty small kiteboards and bought them because they were cheap.

When it comes to buying your first kiteboard you have a few decisions to make.
1 - Is this going to be your only board, do you plan on keeping it for a long time?
2 - Is this going to be your beginner board that you will upgrade once you become a competent kiter?

I personally would suggest going for number 2 if you are a beginner, but thats only because it will make the learning curve of kiting a little bit easier.

As a genereal rule, the bigger the board, the more it floats, the less power you need from your kite to get you up and riding. 
When you are learning to kite, your kiting skills will probably be mediocre, you won't have the power control that you need to get up, and stay powered up enough to ride.  A bigger board will be very forgiving and keep you floating and standing on your board while you try to figure eight your kite again.
A smaller board will not give you this buffer and you will have to have much better kite control to get up and ride.

The results are twofold.
1 - Those with big boards will not have learned the subtle kite control manouvres but will be up and riding (probably downwind) and will get the buzz from their first tack.
2 - Those with small boards will struggle at the start but will have much better kite power skills and when they can get up and ride on their board they will be more advanced than the same person on a big board.

If you are impatient and want results fast (results being that you are kiteboarding and you don't care where to or how, you are just standing up on your board)  then go for a big board.
If you don't quit easily then buy a nice small board and learn the hard way.

So what constitutes big or small in a board? 
It all depends on your height and weight - the bigger you are, the bigger the board you will need.
I am 5'6" and ride a 128cm board as my standard board, I like it because its fast and responds quickly.  I learned on a 134cm board which gave me a little bit more flotation for starting out.
I know girls who are 5'2" and ride 123cm boards, but there aren't many people who can ride smaller than that.
Generally if you are an average male, say 5'10" and 80kgs a board anywhere from 134cm - 140cm would be good.  Taller or heavier than this then opt for the bigger board (138cm - 142cm), smaller/lighter then go 132 - 136cm.
The above sizes are a guide only, based on the people I know and what boards they ride on for their weight.  I'm also only talking about twin tips here, surfboards and directional boards I will cover in another post.

If you are struggling to decide, always opt for the bigger board rather than the smaller board.  By the time you need a small board for tricks, you will know what size you want, right now if you don't know, go big, go floaty and have some good first sessions.
There are always people wanting to learn, so the re-sale on beginner boards is pretty good.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eastern Beach - Auckland

Eastern Beach is a great beach in Auckland, located close to Bucklands Beach and is great in North, North Easterly and Easterly winds.
At mid and low tide its great for beginners, providing shallow areas to try body dragging and kite flying.  You can kite at any tide, but there isn't much space to launch at high tide, so I would suggest that only for more advanced riders.
The water is quite flat inshore but you can ride out a little bit to find swell and chop if you so desire.

The north end of the beach is the best place to launch from, there is a grass verge to pump up your kites and you can park right on the road by the grass.  The sand is great and you don't need booties here.
This beach can get quite busy in the summer, so I don't suggest kiting during peak sunbathing season, for safety.

The photo below gives you an idea of how close you can park your car, the grass verge, the beach and then the water :)

This beach is nowhere near as busy as some of the other Auckland kitespots (Point Chev and Shoal Bay for example), so if you are looking for some peace and quiet then this could be your spot.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Girls Day Out Kitesurfing Auckland

Girls Day Out Kitesurfing is a monthly event held at different locations in New Zealand where females of all levels can come together for kitesurfing.
We have a facebook fan page and a webpage with details on upcoming events as well as photo's and news.
The event is sponsored by Ocean Extreme and supported by a group of dedicated girls who are trying to introduce the sport to women and provide a safe, female friendly environment to kitesurf in. 
Everytime we have had this event its been awesome :)  When the wind hasn't co-operated, it gave us some beach time to talk about equipment, try on other girls harnesses and talk about kite techniques and tricks.  When the wind does come up its fantastic to be out in the ocean riding with so many females, all looking beautiful with big smiles on their faces.
So if you are a girl looking to get into kitesurfing in or around Auckland, feel free to join our next event or e-mail me for more details.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kitesurfing, strength and being a girl

I met a female colleague yesterday and she asked me about my hobbies.  When I told her about kitesurfing she said "Oh, I would like to do that, it looks cool, but I don't have enough upper body strength".
I can't tell you how many times I have heard this before from females who think they can't kite.
I am therefore debunking a common myth - you do not need to be strong to be a kitesurfer.
I recommend that you know how to swim, but I would suggest that for anybody doing water sports, however you don't need to be strong.
Some of the best (and most fun) kiters I know are over 60, mainly because they are retired and have the time to get out and kite when the rest of us are working.
The kite is attached to a harness which you wear around your waist or hips, the majority of the pull comes from here.  Your arms are used to steer a bar which controls which way the kite flies, but you do not need any strength to do this at all.  Its a bit like driving a car, the car is heavy, the wheels are heavy, but you can easily turn the steering wheel - well the bar on a kite is like turning a steering wheel, after a while you don't even realise you are turning it.
So if you would like to kitesurf but are worried that you are not strong enough - think again. 
You don't need physical strength to kite, you just need a strong passion and the willingness to get out there and try it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting up on your board

You have been through a few lessons, you are really excited that you now understand what figure 8's are, you can fly the kite one handed and have bodydragged to your hearts content.  Its now time to put a board on your feet!
This is it, you are becoming a fully fledged kiteboarder, however this is the part that most people struggle with, its a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, you have to do two independent actions at the same time and not concentrate too much on one or the other.
I am not an instructor, please take proper lessons to learn to kitesurf, however I do have a few tips that helped me during those early stages and I find are the most common mistakes I see newbies make:

1 - Don't pull the bar in when you are starting. As you stand up you decrease the tension in your lines which depowers your kite, you have to counteract this by moving the bar (or your arms) a little. You can't do this when your bar is pulled all the way in. Pulling the bar in when you are kiting will power you up, but it has the opposite effect when you are starting because of the movement of your body.
You might not notice you are pulling the bar in, but its the most common mistake with beginners as they don't account for their body moving forward towards the kite as they stand up.

2 - Point your board downwind. When you put your board on and your kite is at 12 your board will be pointing at 9 and 3 O'clock. If you are going left, point the tip of your board at 10 and the back at 4 O'clock. When you power up your kite to start your kite will fly from 12 to 10 O'clock, meaning that the tip of your board should point at your kite.

3 - When you are riding, don't bend at your waist, this is causes you to be too flat on your board and faceplant or go downwind really FAST! Push the bush a little more and lean back a bit, this will help you to go upwind.
 You will lose you board during this period, try to learn your board skills in waist height water so you can walk back to your board and try again :)

Keeping warm in the winter

Well daylight savings has kicked in which means no more after work kiting now that it gets dark just after 6pm :( 
The past few nights have started to get cold, and so this is where the thought of wearing a long sleeved wetsuit starts.
I am a wussy girl - I feel the cold really easily and I would much rather be toasty warm than freezing cold.  Last winter season in Auckland, I wore two wetsuits on top of each other, both 3/2mm suits which kept me pretty warm but was quite bulky and restricting.  On the really cold days I would throw one of those pocket handwarmers into my wetsuit to keep my core warm, which worked great if it stayed in place, but sometimes I would lose it and end up keeping one of my butt cheeks warm ;)
So this season I have decided to invest some serious money into my kiting obsession and buy this:
NO, I didn't buy a man who points at his tummy, I bought the new Quicksilver heated vest.
I ordered it from the US, as I couldn't find a supplier here in New Zealand, and when it arrived I immediately took it out of its beautiful packaging (it is very nicely boxed) and put it on.  Its really comfortable, stretchy like a rashguard should be and has two large heating patches on the back which cover your kidneys and back.
The battery pack is on the side, as is the photo, but this is useless for kiteboarders as we have harnesses over this section.  So I took the battery pack and controls and placed it through the sleve so it rested on my chest, with the control buttons facing out.  Hopefully Quicksilver will place a pocket on the front of the rashgaurd too so that kiters can use it as well. 
I turned it on to full heat and it blasted warmth instantly, it was really nice and very pleasant.  There are two settings high (55C) and low (45C) and the high was quite hot - great if you have a sudden chill, but I only needed it on low to keep me very toasty throughout my kite session.
The control system has a vibration response, 1 buzz for high, 2 for low so you know what setting you have it on when you press it. 
I kited for over 3 hours and the battery lasted all of that time, and I was happy and warm.
I didn't feel restricted by the rash and didn't notice the controls at all, even when doing tricks, and I know in the depths of winter I will get a lot more time out on the water because I will be warm.
This is probably the best investment you can make other than a good warm wetsuit, I have had lots of people ask me about it and look at it and all of them have been very excited - now if we can only get them to sell in New Zealand.
I highly recommend the heated vest and if you see me out in the water and want to know more, just ask me - I'm probably wearing it :)

Kitesurfing rules and etiquette

There are a lot of unwritten rules and etiquette involved in kitesurfing. I thought I would start with some of the important ones:

1 - Where to launch - launch away from other beach users, don't launch over kids building sandcastles or sunbathers. If this is your first time at the beach, do some research, or ask other kiters about local hazards or obstacles that may not be obvious.

2 - Setting up your kite - if there are other kiters setting up, don't set up right next to them or put your kite over their lines. Give people some space and try to set out your lines in the same direction as everybody else to save space.

3 - Launching - ask for a launch if you are not going to self launch, but make sure you are both clear on what is expected of each other. I learned the hard way recently and my kite ended up in a tree, as the person launching me had never launched somebody before and didn't know the hand signals. I had assumed that because he was on the beach with a kite pumped up that he knew what to do. Now I always clarify, do not let go of the kite until I give the thumbs up signal.

4 - Right of way - newbies seem to get very stressed about this one. If you are approaching a kiter coming towards you, the one with their right hand forward as the right of way. If you are both kiting in the same direction the rider more downwind has the right of way.

Although this is true, use common sense, if a new kiter is struggling to stay upwind or someone is trying toeside and struggling to edge, then kite to the conditions and make safe decisions.

5 - Jumping and tricks - yes jumping is cool, but its not cool if you are close to another kiter. Take a look around you before you pop your jump, make sure your downwind path is clear and you can travel without getting tangled with another kiter. You may think you have control, but we have all had our jumps go wrong, make sure there is space for error.

6 - Landing - if you are asking somebody to land your kite, tap on your head as a signal to let them know what you want. Make sure you know how to self land and have practiced this skill BEFORE you find yourself alone on a beach. There are lots of video's on youtube showing landing techniques if you haven't seen them.

7 - confronting the morons - we are a kite community, we need to keep our beaches safe and look after each other. Sometimes there are "kite morons" out there, who throw dangerous moves close to the beach, or kite too close to others. Speak out and confront these people, we will end up being banned from beaches if we don't self-police.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Auckland Kitesurf Locations - Interactive map with colour coding

Auckland Kitesurf Centre has a fantastic interactive map showing lots of the kite beaches with a colour coded icon describing the kiter level required.
Deane Joyce put this map together and I think it is one of the most informative ones out there!

View Aucklands Kite Spots in a larger map

New Zealand Kiteboarder Magazine

Written in New Zealand, by New Zealanders for the local community, New Zealand Kiteboarder magazine has all of the local news and events for only $8 :)

You can get a subscription, or I buy it from the Mega Mags on Queen street in Auckland city.

It takes a lot of time and money to create a magazine just for us, so support local business by buying a copy or taking out a subscription, and supporting the advertisers who make it all happen.

Decay Kiteboards

This is a blog about New Zealand Kitesurfing, and I think its important to support local businesses.
Decay Kiteboards specialise in making custom kiteboards from New Zealand grown Paulownia, New Zealand made epoxy and locally sources materials.
Founded by Dave Kay and his beautiful other half Su Kay this team bring the passion to kiteboarding and are always out supporting local events. 
They have some of the most amazing designs (see photo from their website below) and can build you pretty much anything based on your height/weight and riding conditions.

More importantly than this, Su Kay is probably the best female kiteboarder that I know, and yet she is also the most modest.  She is always willing to help out, give advice and support female kiteboarding events, even though they always have work to do at the shop.

As well as being kiteboard manufacturers and designers, both Dave and Su are amazing kiters too as this video of them shows:

Ruakaka sessions from Olly Brunton on Vimeo.

So check out their website and see their boards, lets support our local community and buy New Zealand products :)

Auckland Beginner Beaches - a visual map

Daniel Jobin ( has created a fantastic visual map for Auckland kite beaches with a few comments and little wind direction icons (great for us girls).
Click on the picture to enlarge it and read the corresponding text.
Thanks Dan!

Takapuna Beach

Takapuna is located on the north shore, 15 minutes North of Auckland City (unless its rush hour, then crossing the bridge can add another 30 minutes).
Its great for North through to Southeasterly winds and can provide some fun swell conditions and small waves to pop off.
Its not the easiest beach to launch from and it can get very busy in the summer with tourists and sunbathers alike.  I tend not to kite here at peak times, just because the beach is very busy and there is not that much space to get out of the way.
There is a grassy area for pumping up kites, nice toilet and changing facilities and an outdoor shower to rinse off yourself and your gear.
In the winter the beach is pretty much deserted and the kiters can take over the beach with a great view of Rangitoto island behind them.
This is not the ideal spot for beginners due to the space constraints and it can get quite choppy. 

I would suggest beginners head down the shore a little bit more to Cheltenham beach.
You can check the wind conditions on the live webcam here.
For skunked conditions Takapuna is great, there are lots of shops and cafes to spend your time in while waiting for the wind :)

Point Chevalier

Point Chevalier is a great kitespot for all abilities and works well in southeasterlies through to north winds.
The spot is very gusty due to it being so far inland, but its only 5 minutes out of Auckland city, has a nice big car park and toiliet facilities.
There is a grassy section to pump up on, and you can kite at all tides, at low tide you are in for a very long, muddy walk before you hit the water.
At high tide there is not much space to launch, and I prefer to take my kite out and drift launch myself, however at mid-tide there is a nice beach to land and launch from as you can see below.
The biggest problem with Point Chev are the oyster shells, which are sharp and will quite happily cut kites and feet alike.  Always wear booties at this site, and be careful when landing your kite, as it only takes one shell to ruin the fun.
The location is great for beginners as there are lots of shallow areas where you can walk around waist deep working on your body dragging and learning to put your board on.
The more experienced kiters tend to go way out looking for some fun swells to pop off, or they veer off to the left to find a sandbar to jump over.
The water is quite flat here close to the beach and so is great for tricks and beginners, however anything over 16 knots further out makes for some fun choppy deep water :)
You can check wind conditions on the webcam here.
Point Chevalier is one of my favourite kite spots, partly due to the convenient location, the changing and toilet facilities, and partly because I can go off into the sunset without a care in the world.

Board Leash

There are two opinions on board leashes, and I will admit to having recently changed my mind on them.
A board leash is a device that you attach to your board, and usually your harness to stop your board from floating away when you come off it.
There are two types of leash, a short bungee leash and a reel leash.  The reel leash, tends to have a much longer line that is coiled into a holder, the leash itself is thin and does not have much elastic.  The short leash tends to be very elastic, similar to a bungee cord.
I learned with a board leash and I found it very useful when I was beginning, as I would fall off from my board a lot and it meant that all I had to do was pull on the leash (I had a reel leash) and tow my board back in to me.
Although convenient, I have seen and heard of too many leash accidents recently, that I am now of the opinion that board leashes are more dangerous than convenient.
There have been several instances where the board leash has recoiled the board back into the rider resulting in head and face injuries.  Lost teeth, cut faces, sliced scalps, all of which have been caused by the board leash. 
There are several graphic websites which show the damage caused by board leashes which you can google, as they are not for the faint hearted.
My advice is to make sure that you know how to bodydrag upwind, this is where you position your body in such a way that you can use your kite to pull you upwind.  You may have to tack a few times, but body dragging upwind is the best way to get to your lost board.
My other tip is to write your e-mail or phone number on your board, that way if you do lose it, somebody knows how to get it back to you.
Kiters are a friendly crew and we have all been at the beginner stage.  I make an effort to pick up a board and bring it to a kiter if I can see they are struggling to get upwind, so all is not lost. 
Remember this is a close community, and we all look out for each other, and I bet every single kiter has lost their board on at least one occasion :)

Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay is located on the North Shore 10 minutes from Auckland city (unless its rush hour, then prepare to meet the harbour bridge traffic).  Head towards Devonport, when you see the MacDonalds, swing a right.  Shoal bay is at the end of Bayswater road.
Great on a Southwest wind at mid-tide.
At high tide, its hard to launch and at low tide its a mud pit.
At mid-tide, Shoal bay has this great sandbar which is perfect for launching.  Flat water for tricks is on the right, or you can go left and head out into the shipping channel towards the bridge!
There are a lot of lessons taught at Shoal bay because it is really shallow in spots, but I have found the beginners tend to stay away from the masses.
The flat water here is amazing, its like kiting on a mirror, just beautiful, and because its so shallow the water can get really warm.
If you feel like an adventure, head off to the left and hit the open water.  The swells can be quite fun on really windy days, and heading out towards the motorway always makes the drivers look twice :)
Shoal bay has street parking, a grassy verge to pump your kite on and can get very busy.
There are no toilet or changing facilities at this site, so if you need to pee, you will have to go in your wetsuit!

Orewa Beach

Orewa Beach is 30km from Auckland city and a great place for kitesurfing.
The long stretch of beach is full of golden sand, and you can kite at low and high tide. 
Suitable for Southeast, East, Northeast and North winds.
Kiters usually kite at the south end, near the surf club as there is a grassy bank where you can inflate your kites.  You can however launch from the north end too, and it tends to be a little quieter up there.
This beach can get really busy in the summer, sunbathers on the beach, surfers and swimmers in the ocean, so if you are a beginner, please try to stick to a quiet spot.
When the wind cranks up, you can get some great waves and huge swells at Orewa, making it a fun spot for big jumps and waveriding.  Right at the south end, the water flattens off to almost a mirror surface, for those who get a little seasick on the bigger waves.
You can check the wind and the conditions on the live webcam here.
Learning at Orewa can be difficult for a beginner, as the waves can add a new challenge, but there are lots of schools who hold lessons out there so its not impossible.
This is me kiting at Orewa on a relatively calm day (12 knots) where the swell was small.
You can see the beach goes on for a long way and there is plenty of space to kite (this photo is taken from the North end of the beach).

The great thing about Orewa is its a really nice beach if you get skunked, there are some fun beach restaurants, you can surf or swim or sunbathe, or just build a sandcastle :)

Why should I take lessons?

So many times, I have heard people (OK, just guys, I have never heard a girl say this) say "I don't need a lesson".  "I can learn everything I need to know about kitesurfing from youtube/a magazine/a DVD/watching my friends do it".
I say - take a lesson.
It may save your life one day!
Kitesurfing has a lot of hazards and dangers involved with it, people die kitesurfing, a lot of the time because they didn't know what they were doing in challenging conditions.
A good lesson will start with the basics of the kite, you will learn about safety releases, how to depower the kite, where the wind window is and how to use it to control your kite.  You will learn how to launch and land your kite safely.  Remember an out of control kite is not just a danger to you, but to others around you too! 
You can probably teach yourself the kite basics with a small trainer kite and  DVD.
However when it comes to the real thing, I strongly suggest you take at least three lessons.
Lesson 1 will involve learning about the kite, launching and landing and safety features.
Lesson 2 will involve body dragging in water, feeling the power of the kite and how to control that power.
Lesson 3 will involve you trying to put a board on your feet, and getting up and riding.
After that lessons are up to you, but those first three lessons, in my opinion, will make you a safer kiter and hopefully more respectful to the dangers that the sport can have.

What kite should I buy?

This is a hard question to answer as everybody that you ask will come up with a different answer.
We all like different things in our kites, and every rider will swear that their kite is the best kite there is.
If you are a beginner looking for your first kite, here are a few pointers:

1 - Don't spend all of your money on a brand new top of the range kite.  You are a beginner, you are going to crash your kite many, many times.  You will learn the thud sound that a kite makes when it hits water (or worse land) at high speed.
2 - Check with local boardstores or trade forums ( for used goods, try to pick up something from last season or the year before that doesn't have too much damage.  A demo kite from a kite school can be a good deal.
3 - Don't buy a kite that is too big for you!  You are a beginner, the last thing you need is to be way overpowered when you don't know how to safely control your kite.  Look at the average wind conditions for where you are going to learn and buy a kite suited for you based on that.  Your kite size will depend on your weight and the wind, I'll post something later on about picking the right kite size for your body.
4 - If you can pick up a 4 line kite for your first kite, do it!  5 line kites have their place, but as a beginner, its one more line for you to get tangled.
5 - Buy a bow kite.  Yes C kites are fast, but a bow kite is easy to control, is much more forgiving and will relaunch easily.
6 - Pick a stable kite.  Kite are designed in different ways,  you have beginner kites and trick kites.  Beginner kites allow you to twitch the bar without the kite responding very quickly.  This is good, as you will be thinking about lots of other things (where is my board, are my hips out, am I going upwind) and sometimes you will pull on the bar without meaning to.  A stable kite will allow you to do this without the kite responding very quickly.  A fast turning kite will respond to everything you do to the bar, this means that it will respond to your every mistake, and you will get quite frustrated as you crash your kite again and again.  The time for fast kites will come, but for now start with the stable kites.
7 - If you are kiting in water, buy an inflatable kite.  If you are kiting on snow or land, buy a foil kite.  Foils don't like to get wet and so are no suitable for water kiting unless you have enough control to know that you will never crash your kite.  Foil kites are easy to self launch and land, making them great for land and snow when you are strapped into your snowboard boots or on your landboard.  Remember that kite sizes are not comparable between foils and inflatables, a 10m foil will give you a lot more power than a 10m inflatable.

Seat Harness, Waist Harness or Short Harness?

This is a question I am asked a lot, and I have all three, so I guess I can express my opinion on them.
Seat harnesses are great when you are a beginner, they naturally push your hips forward, and they make you feel quite secure.  That secure feeling turns into a constricting feeling when you pass from beginner to intermediate.
I stopped using my seat harness one I started to ride toeside, as I found that it didn't let my hips rotate as freely as I would like and the harness felt in the way sometimes.  Having said that, I had worn that seat harness for over 18 months with no problems and it helped me to learn how to kite, so there is a place for a seat harness.
Now I ride mostly in my waist harness, I find it comfortable, it gives me freedom of motion in my hips and lets me crunch my abs on jumps.  I ride the Maui Magic harness, which is the same as the Mystic harness for the guys.  It has soft padding, and an extra harness strap to make sure nothing loosens during your ride. 
My short harness gives me similar freedom, however I have found that I can't wear them for as long as my waist harness as the short harness starts to dig into my hip bones.  I should state that I am a female and my hip bones do protrude quite a lot, so this might not  be a problem for the boys.
I like the softness of the waist harness and the back support, and so that is my harness of choice.
If you are a beginner, a good seat harness will get you up and started and keep your body position in check.
If you ride in warm conditions, where you don't need a wetsuit and wear minimal clothing, short harnesses are great.
If you are an intermediate rider or above and would like some back support, a waist harness with lots of padding is my suggestion.

Hope that helps :)

Where should a beginner kite in Auckland

Newbies sometimes are confused as to which is the best kitespot in Auckland.

If you are just starting out, the things you need to consider are:

1 - Shallow spots - its hard enough to learn to kite without you losing your board and not being able to get it back.
2 - Large areas of space - when attached to long lines, kites have a habit of coming close to objects, such as trees on the shore, other kitesurfers, big rocks! A newbie needs space, and lots of it!
3 - Flat (ish) water - learning to get out through the whitewater in big wave conditions is a whole new battle, if you can start in relatively flat water you will have won half of the battle.

Based on these three considerations, my suggestions for the best beginner kite beaches are:

1 - Point Chevalier - Southeast to North winds, grassy area to pump up your kite, lots of space where its still shallow for you to practice. Beware of the oyster shells, you must wear booties to kite here.

2 - Shoal Bay - South to Southwest winds, good at high tide, can get a bit muddy at lower tide. Watch for lots of newbies, this place is becoming very popular for learners.

3 - Cheltenham beach - North to Southeast winds, can kite at high and low tide (just be prepared to walk a long way at low tide), nice flat water inland, fun swell if you go out a bit. This beach is busy in the summer and there is a threat of kiters being banned, so please keep away from the beach and people and take your kite out to sea to prevent any potential accidents.

All of these beaches are within 10km of Auckland City and have ample parking and lots of kiters to meet when its windy :)

Welcome to New Zealand Kitesurfing

Hopefully you have come across this page because you were searching for information about kitesurfing and kiteboarding in New Zealand.  Here I hope to help you find new places to kite, compare equipment, teach you some tricks, or just give you a place to read while you drink you coffee.
I am always open to suggestions and will add specific content if requested :)