The orca and the kiter

A chance encounter with a pod of orca whales provided a special thrill for Raglan kite surfer Matt Taggart last weekend.

A normal Saturday afternoon turned into a memorable moment for Mr Taggart when a pod of five or six orcas, including a mother and calf, came close to shore in search of stingray.

"A couple of the local guys, Olly and Keith, noticed them and said `come on, get back out there' ... to be honest I was bricking it. I know them as killer whales and I thought no way am I going out there with killer whales," Mr Taggart said.

"But I went out and was taking it quite carefully when the mother popped up right in front of me.

"I never thought I would ever do that ... it was crazily intense. She was literally metres away." Mr Taggart was out on the water with the orcas for about 15 minutes, but lack of wind meant it was difficult to stay with them.

"I was just trying to enjoy the moment. I was absolutely blown away. They came through so quickly ... I guess I was fortunate to be there at the right moment."

Locals had told him orcas came in close to shore to flush out stingray before circling and eating them. "I'm chuffed. I'm stoked I got out there. It would have been easy not to, but I'm glad I did."

Originally from England, Mr Taggart has made his home in Raglan since January after marrying a Kiwi girl.

He is the manager of Raglan-based Ozone Kites/Kitesurf Ltd. "We make and design kites of all forms - land, snow, water, for families. "We're setting up our whole base here, I love it. For kiting it is amazing."

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