The disclaimer on the website says it all, “A Surf Dames weekend may be dangerous to your career”. Erin and Charlie arrived in Whale Bay, Raglan New Zealand from frantic Los Angeles lifestyle fifteen years ago, fell in love with the beach, the break, the amazing native bush and the laidback lifestyle and basically never left.
“It’s just a wonderful place to live,” says Erin, a gourmet chef in her previous LA life. Surf Dames is her baby, an idea for a girl’s getaway that combines surf lessons with five star accommodations, spa treats and gourmet meals with bush walks, wine and the most spectacular sunsets. All the surf instructors are women with passion and skill, a lot of them are graduates from the surf school, women who like Erin and Charlie, came for a weekend and never left. While I ponder on the danger this weekend was going to pose to my corporate girlfriend, I began to see the truth of the Surf Dames disclaimer.
Women can choose a variety of accommodations depending on the size of your group and the angle of view you require of this perfectly beautiful little bay, there is a spa in every location and the spa therapist will come to you. So you can start your day with an invigorating toss in the ocean, fall into a hot spa and then roll onto a massage table all in the space of a morning, leaving the afternoon to explore the bush land that surrounds Whale Bay like a blanket.
Overseeing this all is the mountain known as Wahinemoe, sleeping lady, and at her feet the mantle of greenery of the New Zealand subtropical bush. You can walk for hours in that dappled green of the forest and emerge on the coast further down towards another breathtaking harbor known as Kawhia. It’s all as wild and as lonely as any Wild West coast should be. People are few and far between; fishing boats loll in the low water harbor. After that kind of cross country adventure, it’s time for another spa on the deck, bubbles in the spa and just one glass before jumping on board Charlie’s baby, the electric bus that provides transport into Raglan township and the harbor.
At the port we meet another beautiful baby, the WahineMoe “Floatel”, the brainchild of both Charlie and Erin, and Eco Fitted boat that doubles as a ‘floatel’, a floating hotel. Those who hire the boat for the night are left anchored in a secluded harbor bay for a night of absolute bliss of slurping champagne from the spa pool on the upper deck beneath star filled sky. In the morning, there are kayaks and sometimes visiting migratory Orca whales.
The small village of Raglan is filled with eateries and café’s; it’s the kind of laid-back surfing village that never quite left the Endless Summer. People take their dogs to outdoor cafes, locals give away the location of the best fish and chip shop in the Bay of not the world by queuing in the early evening and every night it the sunsets are painted by that love struck artist, nature.