Fire & Ice

From Tahiti to New Zealand with three globetrotting Americans.

This trip came about several months before we actually left. Brandon Nasr and Omid Moraveji invited me to go on a trip with them over the summer and we started brainstorming ideas on where to go. They’d both been to Tahiti before, but I hadn’t and really wanted to go. They really wanted to go somewhere they hadn’t been – somewhere cold and raw so we decided on New Zealand. We knew it wasn’t very normal to go straight from a tropical location in the dead of summer to a cold location in the dead of winter, but decided to go anyways. This combo made packing a real challenge (especially being a photographer with all my gear).

Down days in Tahiti are long and sweaty, and apparently the mosquitoes in Tahiti thought we tasted good. We were covered in bites


Part 1

Within the first couple days it was complete sensory overload and the beauty of the place blew me away. We landed straight from the plane into good waves for the first few days. I was frothing for days straight! The Tahitians were extremely nice too, especially Kaiwa Hauiti and his family (who we stayed with). It was a fun experience learning the culture, trying the foods, etc.

A local grom named Evans using his local knowledge and getting the good ones
Brandon inverting at T
Ryan Moss, committed at Teahupoo
This was our first day in Tahiti. At this point, I couldn’t imagine life getting any better
Kaiwa Mama on a below sea level drainer
Ryan full speed ahead somewhere in Tahiti
Kaiwa uses his local knowledge to set a perfect line at his home break in Tahiti
When you are surfing perfect waves all day with nobody else out, some good ones go unridden.. like this one. Note the tree branch in the barrel for scale

We scored some really good waves when we were in Tahiti. The first third of the trip was really good, the middle was a little slower and then the last third turned on again. We scored every type of swell, from macking to small and everything in between. It was awesome! We scored Teahupo’o good multiple times and we surfed a lot of other really good waves that I won’t go into detail about out of respect for the locals that call those waves home.

New Zealand

Part 2

Going straight from Tahiti to New Zealand was interesting, but equally mind-blowing. It’s such a raw place with so many opportunities. It was such a different experience though. Unlike Tahiti, this time we were completely on our own and knew nobody there. We lived out of a cramped campervan for three-and-a-half weeks.

Tahiti vs. New Zealand, two completely different worlds
The perfect place to camp, don’t even have to leave the warm van to check the waves
Early morning surf check in New Zealand
A pleasant site to awake to after a long cold night cramped in a van
Brandon on a nugget somewhere on the South Island of New Zealand

It was definitely tricky to find waves. We knew pretty much nothing about the spots in NZ and we used Google Earth, a lot of guesswork and reading weather charts to make out decisions on where to go. It’s definitely a lot of work to score in NZ between the long drives and fickle weather, but we definitely scored a lot of places to ourselves and it made all the work to get there and the decisions on when to go that much more rewarding.

The stars in New Zealand are on another level, every night I would stare up for hours completely mesmerized
Omid snagging a gem for his first wave in New Zealand

I learned a lot about NZ and Tahitian cultures on our trip, as well as a lot about traveling in general. I especially learnt many little tricks to make being on the road for months straight as a photographer easier. We had to be pretty innovative, especially in NZ where we had no electricity in the van to charge cameras and no Wi-Fi to communicate with people. We spent lots of time in the libraries in NZ (thank God they have a good network of libraries with free Wi-Fi there). Brandon and Omid are both super cool, easygoing guys – both in and out of the water. That made them so much easier to travel with and ultimately this trip was a ton of fun, whether surfing perfect waves or exploring the two diverse, yet equally amazing countries on land.