Cyclone Gita




Article thanks to Derek Morrison

Tropical cyclone season is usually a fruit salad of north swells lighting up the east coast of the North Island and filling in the exposed nooks further south. Well, that used to be the case, but with warm water in the Tasman Sea creating a runway to the deep south we're seeing a whole new pattern emerging.

Take Gita, for example, a tryant on a rampage through the pacific islands arcing west and wandering into the Tasman Sea with all the gusto of a schoolyard bully. Hits the Tasman Sea, which has recently experience a marine heatwave, and the warm water fuels Gita's path further south than ever before.

Gita, by now an ex-cyclone thankfully, makes a direct hit on Golden Bay, splits in two thanks to the Southern Alps and sends one part barreling down the West Coast and the other straight across the top of the South Island and out into the Pacific Ocean. A wake of destruction in its path with a swell the only silver lining.

But Gita's proximity and quick exit didn't make the best swell – instead of long-period groomed lines we got short-period slightly wonky, waves that peaked quickly and lasted just a day. Instead of the usual suspects it was a series of novelty waves that turned the energy into something useful. I managed to capture one of those spots with Joe Palmer and Brad Melville feasting on the barrels and a few brave surfers tackling the 1 in 10 rideable peaks at a nearby exposed beach. The rain fell constantly throughout the day and by nightfall the energy was questionable. The following morning it was near flat on the north coast and the south coast was maxing. For most of us, Gita was an exercise in frustration: a fruit salad swell with very few cherries.

See you at the beach ... Derek

PS The Otago Home Show is on this weekend from Friday March 2through to Sunday March 4 at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin. Interior designers and landscape architects have put the whole show together and Box of Light will have a pop-up gallery there. Plus, print out this week's edition of Box of Light or show it on your phone and you can get entry for two people for just $10. More info right here. See you there.