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Kia Ora. New Zealand isn’t well known for its surfing. I guess rugby casts a rather large shadow on any other sport. I was quite surprised what we found on our recent trip to the North Island, which is remarkably close to Australia (only a 3 hour flight! Can’t believe I’d never visited before). We toured around with Maz Quinn, New Zealand’s No.1 surfer who was once on the World Pro Surfing Tour, but now he’d rather surf his local waves than travel around the globe.
Our tour kicked off at Piha beach, one of the closet beaches to Auckland’s city centre (40 min drive). Piha has dramatic backgrounds, huge cliffs and an enormous beautiful lava rock planted in the centre of its beach. Piha is a swell magnet and hosts multiple breaks on the right tides – our favourites ‘The Bar’ and ‘Monkey Rock’. High tide is the go, low tide it basically shuts down and is unsurfable. The Piha town is quaint, the people are friendly and the Pizza Café was sensational for dinner or lunch. We also found the RSA club great for dinner and stayed at a B&B – Black Sands Lodge - hosted by two lovely (and quirky) ladies.
As a swell approached we headed south to Raglan, probably the most famous surfing town on the West coast of New Zealand. Raglan hosts some of the longest and best waves in NZ (if not the world) with a left hand point setup to rival Chicama, Peru. The countryside around Raglan is immaculate, untouched and deserted. We stopped regularly for photo opportunities. A short drive from Raglan we surfed Ruapuke Beach, another swell magnet for when the Raglan Points are not working. This deserted black sand beach is yet another picturesque piece of coast surrounded by authentic farm land. Good banks at Ruapuke. As it was only 2-3 foot when we were there, it still had power and fun to surf (suitable for beginners/long boarders as well). Good food in Raglan, lunch or breakky at ‘The Shack’ is unbeatable or dinner at ‘Orca’ was perfect. Dinner is served early! So go around 6-6:30pm.
After Raglan we chased a swell and optimal winds across the country (which only take 2 hours to cross) to Tairua in the Coromandel. Tairua is a popular holiday destination for Auckland crew on the East coast. Beautiful beach houses, white sand beaches, lush countryside all welcomed us. Once again the local people were super friendly. I’ve never been to a surf destination overseas were everyone is so glad to see you. Normally with surfing it is the other way around. We surfed the south corner of Tairua and it was amazing at 4-5 foot. Very uncrowded and peaks everywhere we looked. A small group of islands out to sea provide a unique backdrop to the break. Out of all the breaks, Tairua is probably my favourite with more power in the surf and beautiful coastline. Great place for a family holiday as well.
As the wind changed once again overnight we crossed back to the West coast (black sand) and surfed Muriwai Beach. It’s very close to Auckland and you can drive on the beach with a 4WD, find a peak, stop and surf it on your own. I saw people riding horses on the beach which would also be a great option before a surf. The beach is extremely long, around 10 kilometres. Plenty of space for everyone and I just can’t believe that it is only 30 mins from a major city. We’d have to drive 10 hours to get that kind of peace and quiet in Australia. We had breakfast at the Muriwai beach café and the coffee was amazing.
A surfing holiday in New Zealand is unique as the waves are consistently good, the crowds small, the locals friendly, it’s easy to get around and you can surf on virtually any conditions – it’s a small island that you can cross in 2 hours driving. I will be back in New Zealand for sure.