Surf's Up: Riding the Waves of New Zealand's North Island

An island nation with over 6,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand offers some of the most consistent surf in the southern hemisphere.

Combine this with friendly locals and stunning landscapes, and you’ve got a unique surfing vacation that’s second-to-none.

From the world-famous left hand point break of Raglan to the feast of great waves on offer on Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45, there’s always somewhere pumping that’s not too far away.

If you’re keen to learn how to surf, New Zealand is the perfect place to gain some new skills. From the clean barrels of the east coast to the huge sets found on rugged west coast beaches, the variety of surf here is spectacular. What’s more, as one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing recreational sports, surfing is a great way to meet likeminded local kiwis.

New Zealand’s beaches can be surfed year-round, but for balmy temperatures head to the North Island in summer – during the months of December to March, wetsuits are not needed. What’s more, the laid-back Kiwi surf towns dotted around the country offer great experiences both in and out of the water.

We’re keen surfers at First Light Travel – here are some of our picks of the North Island’s Top Spots.


Home to Surf Highway 45, the semi-circle coastline of Taranaki is home to 11 world-class reef and point breaks – all found within only 30 kilometres of coastline. Kumara Patch and Stent Road are two of the best breaks that are frequented by locals. Full of fast-breaking left handers, the best conditions are created when a 4 – 12ft (1.2-3.6m) south-west swell hits these shores.


The bohemian lifestyle and down-to-earth vibes combined with clean, glassy left handers makes Raglan a surfer’s paradise. Many people believe that nearby Manu Bay has one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world; which was the reason the beach was featured in the 1966 surfing film, Endless Summer. The calmer waves at Raglan’s Ocean Beach is a great place to learn to surf.


The first place in the country to see the sun and home to some of New Zealand’s sunniest weather, the genuine kiwi surf town of Gisborne has a surf break to suit any rider. Here, high-quality, stress-free waves abound; the coastline is home to long ocean swells coming from both the east and the south so there’s always somewhere to catch a wave. Eight kilometres away, Makoriri Point offers a right-hander breaking over a shallow reef system that creates a long, sweeping ride. It’s the kind of wave that will play over and over on your mind.

Talk to the keen surfers and New Zealand experts at First Light Travel to plan your epic kiwi surfing holiday. Contact us now, or find out more on our website.

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