The South Pacific hosts a number of great locations to catch some killer waves and see some amazing sites at the same time. And right at the top of the list for surfing destinations has to be New Zealand.
With just 4.4 million Kiwis and over 15,000km of coastline, New Zealand offers a bevy of internationally renowned surf sites as well as a respite from other overcrowded option. There’s plenty of room to catch a wave here, and you’ll be able to get away from the crowds and surf in comfort and with optimal space.
This little country is quite a gem for anyone who wants to hit the waves, so if you’re an avid surfer, make sure to get rolling with a board in your campervan, and to keep your eyes out for our top 7 surf sites.
1. Manu Bay, Raglan
Situated in the Waikato district just south of Auckland, Manu Bay is the ultimate, classic surf spot in New Zealand, and maybe even in the world. The iconic site of the surf film, Endless Summer Nights, Manu Bay is hosts to thousands of professional and casual surfers every year. Here you can catch waves ranging between 1 to 3 metres, and you can even catch a rare barrel wave here.
While you definitely don’t want to miss out on the surf culture at Manu Beach, if you’re a beginner surfer, a slightly less intimidating place to take a few lessons and get the hang of it is at the nearby Ngarunui Beach. Maybe practice getting up and going here before you graduate to Manu. For lessons, check out the Raglan Surfing School.
2. Muriwai and Piha
The black sand beaches of Mariwai and Piha make a scenic spot for your next surf day. Piha and Muriwai are actually the closest surf spots to Auckland, so this is the perfect quick getaway if you are itching to get out of the city and catch some wild waves.
Piha has a left hand break which is one of the most surfed in all of New Zealand, and it’s a beloved spot among locals and travellers alike. Come by the south end of the beach sometime during January 13th to the 19th, and you’ll find the National Surfing Championship. Although it’s a famed and well-loved spot, the beach is hardly ever crowded.
Muriwai is another gorgeous site and is slightly less visited than the nearby Piha Beach. If you’re new at surfing, this is an ideal spot to take a few lessons and get up on your first waves. Check out the Muriwai Surf School and enjoy the friendly lesson and individual attention from the helpful staff and teachers.
3. Mangawhai Heads and Te Arai
While you’re enjoying the splendor and beauty of the North Island along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway by campervan, you’ll definitely want to make some surf stops at Mangawhai and Te Arai. These are true highlights of the East coast’s golden beaches, so plan on taking a break from the road and breaking out your boards here.
Experienced surfers will find a beautiful and ever-changing sand bar with a diversity of breaks and waves at Mangawhai. Te Arai is also a popular spot and a great place for any level of surfer.
Peaceful, scenic and everything a wanderlusting surfer could hope for, Whangamata Beach is one of the most popular surf breaks, especially beloved for its excellent left hand break. The break is great for all levels of surfers, and the bar is where the true pros can catch some waves. At both ends of the beach, a plethora of ultra cool water activities await including kayaking and SUP (stand up paddle boarding).
This area of the Coromandel is peaceful and the warm beach waters will are good for more than surfing–in the summer months, it feels like a real warm water spa treatment.
Catch both the first waves and the first rays of daylight at Gisborne. Known for its consistency in surfable waves, Gisborne is one of the most visited beaches every summer for surfers, and many New Zealand pros come from this region.
The nearby Waikanae Beach is a great place to take a little time to work on your skills and take some lessons. Still a treasure as far as wave consistency, this beach provides ample opportunity to get up on those first waves.
6. Fitzroy Beach
This little gem of a beach is easily accessible and a consistent source for killer waves. A great spot with any wind, this beach is safe and sound for surfers of all kinds. If you are in the area between the March 21 and April 6, you’ll be able to see some of the pros take to the water in the Home Loans Surf Festival.
Fitzroy Beach is located just near New Plymouth, so when you explore the town, be sure not to miss out on this jewel of a beach.
7. Kaikoura Beach
Just a 2 hour drive from Christchurch, Kaikoura Beach is lined with snowcapped mountains and alive with jumping dolphins, friendly seals and the occasional whale. The waves are most consistent in the winter, so bring your wetsuit to manage the cool waters, and get ready to catch a nice swell around Hikurangi Trench.
This spot is an overall great destination for surfers, nature-lovers and seafood aficionados alike.