Where to find the best surfing in New Zealand

New Zealand is a surfer's paradise, even though a wetsuit is recommended. With over 6000 kms of coastline there is plenty to explore.

Here are some of our favourite spots: 

Auckland’s West Coast

From the isolation of Karekare to the 60 km windswept rugged coastline of Muriwai and the famous black sands of Piha, the west coast of Auckland features some ripping swells and rolling tubes that experienced surfers love to ride. For the more inexperienced surfers, the moderate beach breaks are better though.

Great Barrier Island
Lying 90km northeast of Auckland and a short 30 minute flight across the Hauraki Gulf is the stunning Great Barrier Island. Popular with both tourists and surfers, the Barrier offers swells reaching six feet or more, enabling wave-riders some awesome tubes and long-lasting rides. Waves around the Great Barrier break in all directions, keeping surfers on their toes and consistently challenging them. Be wary of rocky reefs and at times, sharks though.

Considered one of New Zealand’s top surfing areas, Taranaki is consistently good with varied surf breaks, making it the best destination for the serious surfer. New Plymouth and the north have many long beaches with the south’s lava reefs and boulder bays creating heavy, solid surf. If you like a more exciting ride that has vertical drops and high-walled wave action, then Taranaki is for you! Just be careful of the reefs!

Bay of Plenty
From Matakana Island to the Motu River mouth, anyone looking for the perfect wave should be thinking about heading to this New Zealand surf spot. Mt Maunganui, or “The Mount” (19 km Boulder Beach Bay of Plenty New Zealandeast of Tauranga) is the hot spot in the region, with swells that get above six feet and barrels that seem to go on and on. You can also catch a good wave from ‘The Blowhole’ on the south headland that often carries you several hundred metres in to the surf club.

Mahia Peninsula
Situated between Napier and Gisborne on the sunny East Coast of the North Island, Mahia Peninsular is one of New Zealand’s little hidden treasures. Known for its enormous barrels and high, heavy swells, the peninsular has an excellent reputation for delivering reliable, consistent and high-quality surf in almost any weather condition. The outer breaks are hard to master so it is recommended that for the novice surfer, catching the remnants of the larger waves is better.

Otago Peninsula
Home to some of the rarest wildlife in the world and some ripping surf, great breaks and nice tunnels, Otago Peninsular is a spot not to miss. Although also known for having frequent white shark sightings, you have 40 breaks to choose from so you should be fine :)

About two hours drive from Christchurch sits pretty little Kaikoura. Alongside whale watching, this is one of the wildest surf spots on New Zealand’s north coast. Wave quality can be put down to the Hikurangi Trench which allows swells to come straight out of deep water. This produces swells up to fifteen feet with multiple breaks in all directions. Just respect the wildlife in the area as dolphins, sperm whales and fur seals are known residents!

Port Waikato
An iconic surfers hangout with long smooth rides and often big swells, Waikato is another must stop spot on the NZ surfing trail. Shifting banks make the beach break variable but when it’s good, it’s really good! Waves break both left and right at the beach and the best swell direction is from the Southwest. Be careful as rips are a hazard of surfing here.

Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sunrise of each new day and is located on the East Coast of the North Island. Known to offer some of the best and most consistent surf breaks in New Zealand, Gisborne has something for all types of wave-riders. Breaks are all along the popular Wainui beach, with the best waves being found at the southern end at a break known as “Stock Route”, where right and left-hand tube rides are the order of the day. Just 3 hours from Tauranga and Rotorua and 2.5 hours from Napier, Gisborne will be an exciting stop on your summer surfing vacation.

Hawke’s Bay
From the Shipping port at Ahuriri to the famous Cape Kidnappers gannet colony and the outstanding Waimarama about 32 kms south-east of Hastings, Hawke’s Bay offers something for all levels. Known for its steep beach bars, heavy hollow waves, and 6-foot swells, this is a definite place to stay!

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