10 Best New Zealand Surf Spots

The 10 best New Zealand surf spots are located throughout the country's 3,800 miles of coastline. Wave-riders can surf beaches here all year long, as the north island features warmer temperatures, while in the south island, you'll need to wear a wetsuit from time to time. Since New Zealand is so easily navigated, avid surfers can drive across the island, surfing multiple coasts without wasting much travel time.

  1. Great Barrier Island. A location that's a huge draw annually is Great Barrier Island. Not only is it popular with tourists, but with surfers as well. Swells in this area of New Zealand reach 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.
  2. Auckland's West Coast. The west coast of Auckland features some ripping swells and rolling tubes that surfers love to ride. Outer breaks are recommended to experienced wave-riders, while the moderate beach breaks are better for beginners. Rogue waves can also be found here, causing serious wipe-outs. But if these types of waves weren't challenging, what fun would they be?
  3. Bay of Plenty. Anyone looking for ideal waves should head to this New Zealand surf spot. Named by the infamous Captain Cook, the Bay of Plenty features waves you can ride forever. Swells get above six feet and barrels seem to go on and on at times. Breaks are 'a plenty' here and the actual beach is popular for swimming and sunbathing too.
  4. Taranaki. If you're a risk-taker and like the more exciting thrill of vertical drops and high-walled wave action, come to Taranaki. This surf spot features both right and left breaks, six to ten-foot swells, and tubes and barrels that will push experienced surfers to their limits. Be careful of the reefs for if the surf drags you in, you could get fairly banged up.
  5. Otago Peninsula. The surf at Otago Peninsula is prime, featuring giant waves, powerful breaks and nice tunnels. While this is an excellent surf haven, Otago Peninsula is also known for having frequent white shark sightings, so be careful and be on your guard at all times.
  6. Kaikoura. Kaikoura is one of the wildest surf spots on New Zealand's north coast. At the point of the peninsula, you can find swells ranging from ten to fifteen  feet, as well as tons of breaks from all directions. This area is also known for its wildlife like dolphins, sperm whales and fur seals, so be respectful of their territory when surfing here.
  7. Mahia Peninsula. Considered New Zealand's hidden treasure, the Mahia Peninsula is a surf spot known for its enormous barrels and high, heavy swells. Waves here will literally crash into you from both sides giving some extreme riding conditions. If you're a novice surfer, stick closer to shore and catch remnants of the larger waves, for you need lots of experience to master the outer breaks.
  8. Waikato. A surfing mecca and popular wave-rider hangout, Waikato is a place to go if you're looking for some serious surfing comraderie. Everyone who frequents here is friendly, laid-back and loves to share their tips and experiences on what works best for them. Waves found here can be long, smooth rides, making your experience much more exciting yet relaxing.
  9. Hawke's Bay. Hawke's Bay is known for its steep beach bars, heavy hollow waves, and 6-foot swells. This surf spot is a good place to chase waves, for they're abundant, breaking both left and right, creating some awesome tubes.
  10. Gisborne. Popular with wave-riders since the 1960's, Gisborne has something for all types of wave-riders. Whether you're a novice or experienced, or like smooth barrels, or kamikaze-like walls, you'll be happy with Gisborne. During mid to high tide, you'll find some epic waves here reaching up to ten feet or more at times. You'll catch more left-hand breaks at Gisborne, coming from southeasterly swells. The waves coming up around the southern reef are some of the best to catch.
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