In the 23 years Melissa Woods has surfed she has become accustomed to seeing sharks, but is describing a close encounter in Papamoa as one of her most frightening water experiences.
Melissa Woods has surfed all over the world, spotting tiger sharks and hammerheads, but says a close encounter with a shark in Papamoa was one of the “freakiest”.
She was surfing there with her husband last week when a two metre shark came speeding towards her.
“It was freaky. I didn’t think I’d be as freaked out as I was.”
She was lying on her board about six metres out from shore at a stretch of beach in front of Allan Place in Papamoa.
Melissa first realised something was happening when her husband, who was on his surfboard about eight metres away, starting yelling at her.
“He looked a little stunned and was mouthing out words that I couldn’t make out.”
When Melissa finally realised he was warning a shark was nearby, she frantically started scanning the water.
“I looked down and it was just right there. It was coming up at me.
“It swam under my board and came directly for me.”
She looked around for a wave that might push her into shore, turned back around to see where the shark was and then realised it was right next to her surfboard.
“It was like a dog sitting at my feet that I could have patted, it was hideous.”
Melissa finally caught a wave big enough to push her into shore.
“You see them swim past but I’ve never seen a shark like this before.
“I’ve known sharks have been in the water while I’ve been surfing before and I haven’t been too worried about it.”
Others swimming in the water near Melissa and her husband also spotted the shark and fled the water.
“It was big and you could definitely see it from the sand dunes.
“It was like the shark was really cocky, it was confident. It was behaving very odd.”