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Catching the tourism wave

Posted at 11:53am Monday 16 Nov, 2020

The Eco Pods are made from recycled timber and have wool insulation.
The Eco Pods are made from recycled timber and have wool insulation.

Te Arai-based Aotearoa Surf has made its way through a choppy tourism market and doubled down on attracting domestic visitors.

General manager Che Burnett is now offering “surf and stay” packages with accommodation in stylish Eco Pods and glamping tents.

“New Zealand has moved into a new post-Covid era, and Kiwis are realising we have to enjoy every moment that we have,” Che says.

He has put in five acres of subtropical garden as well as a man-made beach the size of a volley ball court. A 50-metre vinyl water slide dug into the bank leads down to a dipping pond.

Te Arai has been an untapped holiday destination compared to other Kiwi beaches, but Che says the view from his pods is one of the best – it takes in everything from the Mangawhai Estuary to the Coromandel Peninsula, including the Poor Knights and Mokohinau Islands.

Despite challenging conditions in the tourism industry, Aotearoa Surf has taken on new staff, bringing their total number to 14, to cater to the new side of the business.

Aotearoa Surf can accommodate up to 12 guests in the Eco pods and has options for families and couples. Each pod features a smart TV and Wifi.

The packages range from three to five nights and include unlimited gear hire, as well as group and one-on-one lessons.

Che encourages those dreaming of taking up surfing not to underestimate themselves.

Last month, he hosted a 78-year-old who got up on the board and returned the next weekend to try it again.

He says surfing is a sport for anyone, but guidance when getting started is helpful.

“This is for people who want a life-changing holiday. You get to take something away with you,” Che says.

“You can only play rugby for 15 years, but you can surf for life.”

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