Tahunanui is a prime watersports location, with an area set aside for kitesurfers. There are a couple of different parking options, but generally you will launch into Blind Channel. Windsurfers often park at “Back Beach” as there is less distance to carry kit!
The large car park that looks out over the main beach and is used by the local kitesurfing schools “Kitesurf Nelson” and “Kitescool” has a basic toliet, and there is a tap for washing gear. There are no facilities at either of the two car parks on Back Beach. All these car parks are popular with dog walkers, fishermen and tourists.
Ideal wind and tide combinations:
This is a great spot that works in anything from a NE to SW wind. However, the tides can be strong, and the sailing conditions are very different at different states of tide. Low tide is generally best as the sand bar is exposed resulting in flatter water.
N(ish) wind at mid to low tide (outgoing): This is the normal sea breeze direction and the breeze is normally 10-15knots. However, by using the outgoing tide you can be effectively sailing in 15-20knots. Bonus!
Sailing a channel on an outgoing tide is a very risky business. If the wind drops and you can’t make it to shore, you will be swept quickly out to sea. This has happened on a number of occasions with kiters. You must be very confident in your ability and your equipment. If I am taking the risk, I try to minimise it by staying well within the channel.This would hopefully give me enough time to reach the beach should my equipment or the wind fail on me.
Having scared you off, I’ll say that these conditions can be fantastic – the tide keeps you upwind, so you can gybe at both ends without worrying about losing ground! Of course, you are solely responsible for where you choose to sail.
A strong NW at low tide can deliver a superb speed strip or freestyle area along the sandbar to the south west.
SW wind at low to mid tide (incoming): A colder wind and often gustier, but can equally deliver some fantastic conditions. You can sail with the added security that if the wind dies, your worst case scenario might be a walk/taxi back from Monaco rather than a long swim in the Tasman.
The opposite of these conditions (SW wind & outgoing tide or a N wind & incoming tide) should be avoided!! Generally speaking high tide is too choppy for it to be much fun, so go to Atawhai!