It’s no secret New Zealand has incredible waves, and if you’re willing to drive, monitor the surf forecast and chase the best conditions; the country will reward you with amazing waves.

However, with thousands of kilometres of coastline and infinite potential for world-class surf, the issue remains not whether you'll get waves - but where to surf. 

But not worry, we've created this list of NZ's best surf spots to help you along.

There's a lot to get through, so let's go!



BEST SURF SPOTS IN THE NORTH ISLAND, NZ

The North Island of New Zealand has thousands of kilometres of untapped coastline with plenty of quality waves.

If you're looking for guaranteed waves and a great surf trip base, here are the best surf spots on the North Island to get you started.


PIHA

SUITABLE FOR: ADVANCED SURFERS

Just 45 minutes outside of Auckland is Piha.

Famous for its distinctive Lion Rock and striking black sand beach, the town draws beach-loving tourists and surfers year round. Piha can produce incredible waves and is one of the most consistent surf spots in NZ.

Seriously, it’s never flat here, and you’ll be hard-pushed to find anywhere more reliable. 

Piha Bar is a fun left-hander breaking off the rocks at the south end of the beach offering up long powerful lefts ending in a hollow shore break section.

A super fun wave for the advanced surfers, but definitely challenging for beginners and intermediates.

North of the rock is a long stretch of beach with countless punchy peaks dotted along its length, the quality of which will depend on the sandbanks on the day.


RAGLAN

SUITABLE FOR: ALL LEVELS

Raglan is the New Zealand's most famous surf spot, with world-class left-hand point breaks attracting surfers from around the globe.  

Raglan consists of three defined point breaks:


INDICATORS

Indicators is a fast, powerful left with speedy sections for turns - and the occasional hollow barrel sections under the right conditions.

It can handle BIG swells and is the most exposed wave of the Raglan points. 


WHALE BAY

Whale Bay is a short, fun left-hand point with fun sections breaking off a suck rock and along cobblestone boulders.

Because it's shorter and less perfect than its world-class neighbours, it gets less recognition and is generally less crowded – a great bet to escape the crowds. 


MANU BAY

Manu Bay is the jewel in the crown of surfing in Raglan.

On its day, Manu produces flawless left-hand tubes and perfectly paced walls - truly one of the most enjoyable waves you’ll ever surf.

Furthermore, it's great for advanced and intermediate surfers alike.

As you’d expect, Manu Bay is often crowded, so watch out for the locals, be respectful, don't drop in, and stick to the unwritten rules of surfing.


SHIPWRECK BAY

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

Shipwreck Bay is an unbelievably long left with multiple sections for barrels and turns.

But while the wave is incredible, don't expect to score the place on any given day.

The point here only comes to life during large storm swells - so keep your eyes on the chart and head there when most of the west coast looks blown out and too big to surf elsewhere.


Surfing Mount Maunganui

MT MAUNGANUI

SUITABLE FOR: ALL LEVELS

Mt Maunganui is one of the best beginner surf spots in New Zealand and consistently offers mellow 2-3ft waves breaking over sand.

With the Kaimai Mountain range blocking weather fronts from the West, Mount Maunganui is one of the sunniest areas in New Zealand.  

Despite the small waves and inconsistency, occasionally the Mount can serve up a real treat. 


THE COROMANDEL

SUITABLE FOR: ALL LEVELS

Stretching North from the Bay of Plenty is the Coromandel Peninsular, a long finger of land with stunning white sand beaches, beautiful greenery, winding roads, excellent camping and the fun waves too.

The best spots are: 

WHANGAMATA

Whangamta is best known for its rivermouth left: a stupidly long left-hander, running over a shallow sand bank.


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A little further along the beach there are several punchy beach break peaks which helps to spread out the crowd.

HOT WATER BEACH

A picturesque, white sandy beach with fun little peaks scattered all along.

TIARUA

Tiarua offers up a beach break with punchie (often hollow) waves that come out of deep water with tonnes of power.


TARANAKI

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

Taranaki is littered with quality waves.

And with its coastal road aptly names “Surf Highway 45” I guess that comes as no surprise.

Most of the waves in the area come in the form of cobblestone points, A-Frames, lefts, rights, and the odd beachie thrown in.

You name it, Taranaki has it.

Due to the unique geography of the area and the prominent Taranaki Volcano, the wind swings around the foot of the mountain, meaning somewhere is always offshore. 

Stent road is the area's best wave: a fast, reeling right-hander with long walls with plenty of room for multiple turns and the odd barrel too. 


GISBORNE

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

Gisborne gets the brunt of the frequent south swells that wrap around the bottom of New Zealand.

With a number of different set ups to suit all kinds of winds and swell directions, it's no wonder it's regarded as the best surf spot on NZ's East Coast.

South of Gisborne (a 45-minute drive) lies Mahia.

A peninsular offers up some great waves, that are super consistent drawing surfers from the surrounding areas frequently.


BEST SURF SPOTS IN SOUTH ISLAND, NZ  

New Zealand’s south island is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

With lush rolling green hills, snowcapped peaks and a dramatic coastline, waves are a plenty. 

KAIKOURA

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

Kaikoura is one of the best surf spots in NZ on its day.

While the points need some swell to crank, when they're on, it's world class.

We’re talking perfect 4-6ft reeling rights, peeling forever, surrounded by snow topped mountains and rugged coastline. 

If the points aren't working, don’t stress, Meatworks is a reliable cobblestone point that picks up plenty of swell.

Although the name sounds unappealing, the wave here is a punchy, powerful A-frame that always has something to ride. 


GREYMOUTH

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

On the wild west coast of the South Island lies the small town of Greymouth. While the town offers little beauty compared to other parts in the south, the waves get super fun here.

However, the coast gets absolutely hammered by swell, and for much of the winter, it’s un-surfable - not to mention the freezing temperatures. 

But when the swell does drop, there's plenty of waves to choose from: fun little jetty waves and some great beach breaks.


DUNEDIN

SUITABLE FOR: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

Dunedin is one of the most consistent surf spots in all of NZ, and for many is considered the best place to be a surfer in the country.

The area is slammed frequently by swells from all angles, and it's cold!

For a fun surf in town, head to St Clair beach right in Dunedin, a great place for surfers of all abilities. 

Around the coast, there are countless surf setups, which all come to life under specific winds and tides.

We’ll let you do your research to find most of them but if you're heading to Dunedin, check out Purakanui Bay for its spinning tubes and famous white cliffs or Aromoana for its thumping beach break wedges.

You’ll always get waves in Dunedin, as long as you don’t mind the cold.



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WRAPPING IT UP

If you’re willing to get on the road and live among the great outdoors, New Zealand is an awesome place to surf.

Whatever your surfing ability, there’s something for everyone; from beginner-friendly beach breaks, to long peeling points and hollow shore breaks.

Oh, and to top it off, many of NZs best surf spots are some of the most picturesque places you’ll ever surf.

All that's left now, is for you to get out there and go exploring!

DAN HARMON

Dan is a content writer and full-time surf travel enthusiast. He travels the world full-time while creating surf content, traveling to the world’s best surf destinations, and hunting out some lesser-known corners. You can follow Dan’s travels on YouTube, Instagram or his Blog.

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