The Saltwater shop front in a beautiful sunrise light.

The History of Saltwater

Saltwater is proudly, a family owned / operated business, being the original surf shop in Whangamata, a beautiful bay settled on the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. In 1978 a group of Surfer’s got together to create a local surfboard manufacturing and surf shop business. The Iconic Saltwater Surf Shop was born from this. During Saltwater’s early years it produced some of New Zealand’s top surfboards, exported to Tahiti, filled custom orders around New Zealand while sponsoring local and national surfers who went on to gain titles on Saltwater Surfboards.

Pete Mitchell packing up an export order to Tahiti of Saltwater Surfboards single and twin fins.
Pete Mitchell, Brendon Scott, Bob Davie, Richie Myers and Taff Kennings packing up a Saltwater surfboard export order for Tahiti in 1980 outside of the old Saltwater Surf Shop.
Promotional Shot with Pauline Pullman and another women presenting their new Saltwater Surfboards on a beach in Tahiti.

It was a fantastic era of creativity and production all housed in the original premises, which was in times past a motel. Saltwater was a drop in zone for a catch up and to discuss new boards to be crafted. A great time with a great team filled with plenty of good memories. Over the year’s partners in the business wanted to move onto new adventures and by 1988 Pete Mitchell was the sole owner. Pete developed Saltwater further from the surfboard manufacturing into the full retail shop it is today. This was when the Iconic Saltwater clothing range came into it’s own.

In 1993 Pete decided to build a new store. He chose to pay tribute to the heritage of Saltwater and New Zealand. The store frontage is stone collected from our local quarry. The heritage floor is Heart Rimu which were the beams from an old freezing works. Three planks were crafted from every beam. The Kauri pillars by the shop counter were what was left from an historic hotel that burnt down. These two pieces are what Pete created the store around. The posts built into the shop counter were wharf piles from the old Freeman’s Bay Wharf in Auckland. A labour of love for Pete grinding the barnacles off. All the windows and door frames were made by hand on site with demolition Ironbark timber. All created to compliment the history of Saltwater.

Pete Mitchell collecting stones from a local quarry for the new Saltwater Surf Shop building in 1993.
Construction Site of the new Saltwater Surf Shop in 1993.

In 1994 Pete married Fleur who came from a family with a life long history in the fashion industry. It is her eye for fashion, artistic flair and attention to detail that is showcased in the business today. Designing for the future, but always honouring the past. 

In 2004 there was perhaps a future partner with the birth of their daughter Danyelle. Who knows perhaps there will be a Saltwater and daughter sign up over the door one day.

We are privileged to know that Saltwater holds a special place in people’s memories and together we look forward to memories to come.

This image shoes the Saltwater Surf shopfront in 1978.