Surfing in New Zealand; A Complete Guide

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Surfing in New Zealand is one of the most popular pastimes, largely owing to a total coastline that exceeds fifteen thousand kilometres. Long before the first National Surfing Championships were held in 1963, surfing was prevalent in New Zealand since it was already practised as Whakahekeheke in the Maori culture.

The Best Spots for Surfing in New Zealand

The surf locations in North Island are easier to access and hence more popular than those at South Island. However, those who have experienced surfing at South Island believe they are also equally perfect. If surfing helps you have a good time, be sure to consider these places:

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1. Shipwreck Bay – Ahipara

On the far-flung southern end of Ninety Mile Beach, lies one of the best spots for surfing in New Zealand; Shipwreck Bay. The name Shipwreck Bay has nothing to do with the incredible surfing spot, which is touted to have one of the best left-hand breaks in the world. For those who are always hyped up about surfing, this place offers almost zero chances for you to get disappointed and leave without a surf, even on a busy day. In prime conditions, the waves can last for rides as long as three minutes. On those rare instances, when the waves are too turbulent, it is a fine place to hang out and grab some dinner. The glimpses of Shipwreck Bay seen in the 1966 surf documentary film ‘Endless Summer’ are also very popular.  

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2. Piha

A frequent weekend getaway for Auckland’s people, Piha beach has crowds coming in at all times due to its huge popularity. Mostly preferred for the regular and iconic breaks, it is a black sand beach and a twenty-minute journey from central Auckland. There are also numerous surf schools surrounding the beach. The famous right-hand breaks at Piha is no joke and only experienced surfers are advised to give them a try. Luckily, it still leaves plenty of other opportunities for surfers from all levels.

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3. Hot Water Beach - Coromandel Peninsula

Although Hot Water Beach in Coromandel is attributed for the hot springs that lie deep in them, it gets flooded by Kiwi Surfers and backpackers during summer. The nature of the waves makes the beach apt for seasoned surfers but dangerous for swimming, especially after considering the absence of lifeguards. Surfing at the northern end makes way for great breaks according to the locals. To experience the hot springs, one must be there during low tide which is the only time when they are accessible.

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4. Manu Bay - Raglan

Also featured in the 1966 movie ‘Endless Summer’, Manu Bay in Raglan has the longest and highly consistent left-hand breaks in the world. Home of the most celebrated music artists in New Zealand, Manu Bay attained popularity internationally for its waves that let skilled surfers ride for even up to two kilometres. The twenty-year-old ‘Raglan Surfing School’ at Raglan could give you a quick surf lesson if you look forward to enhancing your skills. 

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5. Surf Highway 45 - Taranaki

State Highway 45, locally referred to as Surf Highway 45 lies on the west coast of North Island is one of the best sites for surfing in New Zealand. Surf Highway 45 spreads over hundred kilometres down the Taranaki coastline. It is abundant of all kinds of surf breaks, both left and right-hand breaks in Fitzroy Beach and the point breaks in Stent Road, to name a few. The surfing experience is consistent there since the location is on the West Coast. Other popular spots at Surf Highway 45 include Ahu Ahu, Oakura Patch, Kumara Patch, Ohawe Beach, etc.

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6. Lyall Bay – Wellington

Lyall Bay is one among Wellington’s most popular beaches for surfing in New Zealand. It is just minutes away from Wellington International Airport and hence very easy to access. The environment is constantly busy because of the regular visit of surfers and other usual sights like kiteboarding and swimming. The Peter Jackson-directed 2005 blockbuster ‘King Kong’ was shot in Lyall Bay.

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7. Mangamaunu - Kaikoura

There are a lot of surf spots to offer for Kaikoura like Meatwork, Blueduck, Irongate, etc. Anyway these can just find you waves that last for three to four feet at the most. But, the right hand breaks of Mangamaunu are extremely sought after, especially by surfers from South Island. The length of the breaks can be several hundred meters and are advised for only surfers from advanced levels. Mangamaunu is widely known as ‘Malibu of New Zealand’ due to its considerably good appeal to the surfers.  

Best Time to Visit for Surfing in New Zealand

Summer season is the ideal time for surfing in New Zealand. This usually comes in between December to March. The warm weather really compliments the experience of surfing, but rain can still hit at any time, especially in regions of the South Island. The winter season which usually comes from May to September is definitely not the best time to pursue surfing in New Zealand.

The weather can be very unfavourable, causing the condition of the sea to become violent. If there is any difficulty in bringing a surfboard, native acclaimed surfboard manufacturers like Organic Dynamic and Brandon Surfboards can be an easy solution.

Is there anything about surfing in New Zealand that is left to tell? Tell us in the comments.

This post was published by Vishnu Kesavan

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