Summer rite of passage and some safety precautions
It’s a quintessential Kiwi thing. Water bombing with the loudest splash possible. Kids plank deliberately in the water with a sudden flat impact creating a mini tidal wave of pressurised water. Summer rite of passage for local kids is to go wharf jumping. There is an association,
The New Zealand Wharf Jumping Association – nzwja founded in 2007 by a group of mates who liked jumping off wharves into water, the not-for-profit incorporated society has members scattered around the world. Wharf jumping has moved into mainstream with several councils posting safety notices advising best time to jump and where to take care because of hidden hazards.
Where water is shallow around low tide and it is difficult to see the bottom, check the water depth by wading or swimming out before jumping. Check for notices and advice from local authorities and locals who regularly use the wharf.
Whakarewarewa LIVING VILLAGE
Tourists enjoy snapping photos of kids having fun. And with an enterprising kid there was a realisation there was money to be made for the wharf jumping show. A bridge is a handy substitute in this case. One of New Zealand’s original wharf / bridge jumping sites owned and operated by the Whakarewarewa residents.
Wharf jumpers have to observe boat movement, fishing rods and tourists intent on taking photos of kids jumping. It is very popular with locals giving the visitors a heads up on the latest tactics and techniques.
The island is dotted with baches, summer holiday homes and accommodation providers soaking up the island atmosphere. For many inhabitants the only access is the wharf. Kids are well practiced at patiently waiting for the mail boat run thus avoiding the hazard of boat collision. Wharfs have impromtu ladders, ropes and tyres as wharf jumping props.
TOLAGA BAY WHARF
The longest wharf in New Zealand has visitors who feel the visit’s significance is not complete without wharf jumping at the end of the very long wharf. The water is deep and it is recommended jumpers are confident swimmers. There are lifebuoys and a ladder to assist jumpers. There is a notice advising jumpers to observe sea conditions and be careful about the concrete piles supporting the wharf.
DEVONPORT, AUCKLAND, TORPEDO BAY
The local council had to remove a notice banning wharf jumping, The kiwi summer swimming tradition survived bureaucracy to thrive in Auckland’s community.
TAIRUA WHARF, TAIRUA ESTUARY
Estuaries are a great place for jumping. Tairua is home to a new wharf, boat ramp and floating pontoons at Marys beach. This is where wharf jumping is an official summer sport.
WHANGAPOUA JETTY, WHANGAPOUA HARBOUR
A picturesque jetty in the quiet corner of the harbour is popular for regular fishing locals who willingly cohabit the space with wharf jumps.
URQUHARTS BAY JETTY, WHANGAREI HEADS
Wharf jumpers compete for space with fishing fans and local boaties. Lots of fun as the jumpers watch and jump between boats.
OPUA WHARF, BAY OF ISLANDS
Another favourite wharf jumping location with plenty of room to fishing fans on this wharf.
There is usually plenty of room to fish on this wharf. Situtated at the mouth of the Kawakawa River the deep water is off the front of the wharf.
OMAPERE WHARF, HOKIANGA HARBOUR
A wild wharf with exposure to the huge ocean swells creating sometimes challenging conditions. The locals know where submerged rocks are located and it is definitely a place for dedicated wharf jumpers to check before jumping.
The wharf is a high tide favourite for wharf jumping. Together with the nearby cafes and main street holiday vibe the summer is busy with wharf jumpers vying with locals for the best spot.
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
Wharfs are randomly picked where the writer has witnessed wharf jumping and chatted to locals. There are numerous places not mentioned in this article.