Fantastic weather, world-class women’s surfing and the festive atmosphere saw thousands of spectators come down to the beach over the duration of the festival. The surf conditions were terrific, and showcased the skills from the likes of Sofia Mulanovich of Peru, local favorite Paige Hareb, and winner Stephanie Gilmore from Australia.
The Sustainable Coastlines Education Station made the journey down to Fitzroy and quickly became the hub of the kids community for the week. This offered fun educational material, practical and enjoyable activities for the kids and welcome shelter from the sun and rain.
Important messages portrayed included that rubbish on the streets and in the parks, makes its way to the ocean via the storm water system or is blown by the wind. We also explained the issues created by rubbish once it enters the ocean and explored the characteristics of plastics, which passed on knowledge to curious kids and adults alike.
Throughout the festival, Sustainable Coastlines organised clean-up activities, which removed a large portion of consumer event rubbish and ensured the festival maintained an exceptional level of coastal cleanliness. Kids were rewarded with Whittaker’s chocolate for their efforts, which kept them motivated to help out for the duration of the event.
Aside from event litter, we were very interested in the frequency at which certain items turned up on the coast. Taranaki is a region that is rich in farming, so we were not surprised to find a sizable portion of farming related rubbish including; 42 electric fence insulators, 56 drench applicators, and 367 pieces of wadding from shotgun shells.
Common items that Sustainable Coastlines find around the entire country were also widespread on the Taranaki coast. These included; 147 food wrappers, 187 pieces of rope, 600 caps and lids, 660 pieces of polystyrene/foam and a whopping 3,613 pieces of unidentifiable partially photo-degraded plastic.
The total haul of rubbish over the festival was 102.75 kilograms, which equated to 1, 143 liters (just over 8 regular red household curbside wheelie bins), and well over 6,000 individual pieces.
Another educational initiative during the contest was dune planting. Along with volunteers and the help of pro surfers Sofia Mulanovich and Rebecca Woods, we planted several hundred native dune plants kindly sponsored by the Taranaki Tree Trust.
We would like to extend a huge thanks to TSB Bank, Surfing Taranaki, New Plymouth District Council, PowerCo and all the organisations that made the New Zealand Surf Festival such a memorable success.
An enormous thank you also goes out to the local folk of Taranaki for hosting an event of this nature, and accommodating the people associated with the event.
Overall, we thought the event was run very well and were pleased to see the sustainable initiatives incorporated into an experience where this beautiful coastline is shared with a worldwide audience.