Watch: Torren Martyn's Motorcycle Surf Roadie Through New Zealand, Exclusive New Surf Film
COASTALWATCH | FEATURE FILM
Video by needESSENTIALS / Ishka Folkwell. Story by Torren Martyn
“We were shocked to stumble across a perfect little river mouth backed by snow-capped mountains and not another soul in sight...”
Last year, in the grip of winter, Torren and filmmaker Ishka Folkwell took three months to explore the New Zealand coast on motorbikes for their latest surf film, Lost Track. They discovered that riding around New Zealand is hard work. Ask Torren. A lot of mountains, which means a lot of switch backs and very few straight roads. But if you’ve got time on your hands, a pair of custom Royal Enfield bikes with board racks and some good rubber, then you’ve got some modern adventure. Set against a Middle Earth backdrop, and with Torren as the Lord of the Long Twin, the pair find all sorts of surf with just fur seals for company. Set to a soundtrack composed by Headland and Nick Bampton, Lost Track is yet another needessentials classic.
Torren Martyn shares his story:
My best mate Ishka Folkwell and I decided to spend three months travelling around New Zealand. We wanted as much freedom as possible, and because so many of the roads over there wrap around mountains, canyons, lakes and beaches, it only made sense to travel on motorbikes. Ishka is an incredible filmmaker. We’ve traveled a lot together making surf movies and needessentials has been supporting us for years. This journey was a perfect opportunity to test gear in wet and cold conditions, and along the way we got some really beautiful, remote waves.
Royal Enfield liked the concept too, generously providing us with a couple of Himalayan adventure bikes which we then customised with the help of a talented Kiwi welder friend. We travelled with two boards, a couple changes of clothes, riding gear, camping gear, and camera gear. That left enough room to store a week or so of food and water for when we wanted to get right off the grid.
The next few weeks we zigzagged up and down all around the North Island, pretty chuffed with our set-ups and sinking into life on the road. The North is abundant with hot-springs, geysers, lakes and beautiful beaches, but it's also far more populated than the South Island so it was hard to get too lost and find waves to ourselves, and we started getting eager to get down south and seek a bit of solitude.
Things changed pretty quickly as we made our way down the coast of the South Island. I remember about six weeks or so into the trip, we were perched up on a little grassy knoll for about a week at this wildly beautiful remote bay a few hours south of Dunedin. The place needs a whole lot of swell to really do its thing and with that comes the crazy weather. We ended up enduring about four days of relentless wind, rain and freezing temperatures but got some really fun waves. We had a little tarp shelter set up between our bikes that we’d huddle under trying to stay warm and keep the fire blaring. There’d be the odd crew running into the surf from their steaming hot vans and say something like “sucks to be you” as they ran past. It was so classic and we’d just laugh, nod and keep chugging our red wine.
Between chasing swells we had some really special experiences. One day, after we’d had a great run of waves, we decided to head inland and cross the country to the west coast. We got to see some of what NZ is really famous for; the sounds, huge glaciers, snow capped alps and constantly changing landscapes amazed and inspired me. We were mesmerised and humbled by the raw beauty of the country, and this drive was definitely one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Travelling on a bike definitely puts you closer to nature, right in the thick of all the elements, flying through the countryside you really feel like you're there. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to riding a wave.
The southwest coast of the South Island is pretty untainted and rugged, with many shingled, rocky river mouths where icy water flows off the mountains. We were about eight weeks into the trip by the time we made it there, and we had a couple of what were by far our coldest, roughest days on the road battling wind, snow and rain. We really put our bodies and our gear to the test during those days. Pretty defeated and skunked for waves, we checked ourselves into a little hotel room to thaw out and regather. That next morning we had a pretty slow start just slothing around, not really expecting anything special, and by the time we checked the waves we were shocked to stumble across a perfect little river mouth backed by snow-capped mountains and not another soul in sight. We spent that whole day surfing these epic, perfect little waves and that night we slept next to the fire under the stars with an endless amount of driftwood and not a cloud in the sky.
As we made our way north, we were feeling pretty content and humbled by our time on the road. It had been such an incredible journey. In the end, we covered about 14,000kms in total. I gained so much appreciation for the country, the people we'd met and those who generously supported this trip and made it possible. It was a really special part of my life and it’s something that I'll always be grateful for.
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