A South Island Sojourn

Film and photos by Jason Domancie 

Neck of the Woods is all about exploring your own backyard.

And when it comes to metaphorical backyards, New Zealand’s is a wild and woolly patch of green whose boundaries stretch further than the eye can see. Monster Children alumnus Jason Domancie packed his boards, camera gear, and various cold weather apparatus into his (mostly) reliable 4WD for a trip from North to South Island NZ, and together with good pal and artist Nick Herd, they spent a 10-day stretch scoring fun-sized waves, ruffling the feathers of some diehard locals, and trying (and failing) to keep the cold at bay.


What spots did you hit for this trip? 

We had a 10-day window to get to the South Island, trying to get some waves along the way. We went down the west coast of the North Island; Raglan and Taranaki, then caught the ferry to the South Island and went down the east coast to Kaikoura and Christchurch. On the way back, we went via Napier to a place we both hadn’t spent much time. We ended up getting really fun waves along that coast with no one else in sight.

The journey’s almost as good as the destination when it comes to NZ. What’s one of the best things you saw or did on your way to the spots?

Not sure if this was the best thing, but it definitely was the most memorable. We had a run-in with some not so friendly locals on the first day of the trip, who told us they’d shoot us if we paddled out. We paddled out.

What was your accommodation set up like?

We just got the cheapest Air Bnbs we could find; farm stays and little huts along the way. We had quite a bit of camera gear in the truck, so it was good to have a base every night to attempt to dry stuff, charge batteries and sort through the film.

Best spot for a feed on the South Island? 

Nin’s Bin in Kaikoura for sure.

Must-have gear to take on a trip like this and why?

A good wetsuit and a couple of extra dry towels always come in handy. We had a lot of rain and weather on the trip… the South Island during winter can be pretty brutal. It was always nice getting out of the water to a fresh dry towel.

Where’s one of your favourite spots on the South Island and why?

Kaikoura is good times. Always seem to get fun waves there and it’s a spot I went to a lot with my old man when I was younger.

Tips for warding off the cold?

We weren’t very good at it. We timed the trip with a big southerly storm, so we go battered. Everything was soaked by the end of the trip.

What did you shoot stills and film with, and why did they made their way into the camera bag?

I shot on 16mm for the first time. I’ve always wanted to try it out, and figured this was a good opportunity to give it a go. It was interesting committing fully to film and not relying on digital as a backup. The water stuff was shot on a Canon 6D, I’d never filmed water stuff either so there was a lot of firsts on this trip.

See more travel tips and tricks at Neck of the Woods.

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