New Zealand is one of the most epic areas on Earth for those who love the outdoors. Some of the best surfing in the world can be found off the country’s coast and here are a few of the best spots to catch some waves.
Mangahume, roughly 60 miles southwest of New Plymouth, is a right-hand point break that stands a head above the rest when it comes to expert waves in New Zealand. The waters here are solid with plenty of hollow barrels to keep things interesting, but the rocky outcroppings tend to pose a bit of a threat. The beach doesn’t lend itself well to family picnics, so you’ll mostly find yourself surrounded by fellow surfers, but the waves are also too heavy for beginners to test their skills. Skip this one unless you’ve got lots of practice under your belt.
Consistency is a desirable trait when it comes to scoping out the best surfing available, and the Aramoana Spit in Otago is definitely one of the most consistent waves in New Zealand. The groundswells here provide fantastic opportunities throughout both the Spring and Summer, with good waves stretching into the Fall. The exposed beach break has both rights and lefts for those who like to switch things up. The best part is that the beach isn’t really great for lounging so you won’t find it too crowded even during the warmest months. The occasional finned predator can be a threat here, so plan accordingly.
New Zealand’s legendary surfing mecca has a lot going for it, from the sleepy beach town vibe to its surfing schools and sandy bars. It was made famous by a little surfing film you might’ve heard of, Endless Summer, and has continued to draw large crowds since its release back in 1966. The waves here are incredibly consistent and the beaches and bays are swarming with left-hand point breaks that’ll keep you busy for weeks. Manu Bay, thought to have the most accessible left-hand breaks in the world, is perfect for the adventurous surfer while Ocean Beach provides a more laid-back opportunity to relax and enjoy the smoother waves.
Piha might not have the notoriety of places like Raglan, but it still provides some of the most accessible and consistent surf along the west coast. Sometimes touted as the birthplace of surfing in New Zealand, Piha is a lazy seaside town with some pretty glorious views. There are multiple rock formations to watch out for, but the currents here cause the waves to peel long enough to provide some amazing rides. With extraordinarily consistent water movements, it’s also one of the best places for beginners and casual surfers to test their mettle, but with just enough rips to make it difficult for experts along the north end. Inland you’ll have found some of the country’s greatest waterfalls, bush walks, and mountain vistas.
Porpoise Bay has a little something for everyone. This golden stretch of sand if favored by both beginners and experts alike thanks to numerous breaks along the shores. The northern section of the shoreline is hammered by left-handers and punchy waves that’ll bowl over even the best, while the still powerful southern end of the beach provides better opportunities for amateurs and fans of right-hand barrels. The location draws in cooler temperatures, so you’ll need a wetsuit if you don’t want to discover the horrors of hypothermia.