Best Beaches for Surfing in New Zealand

    With a combination of outdoorsiness, adrenaline, and a laid-back attitude, it is easier to understand why surfing is one of New Zealand’s favorite sports. It fits their natural character perfectly, and luckily for them this gorgeous, mountainous, lush island nation is absolutely packed with fantastic places to surf.

    Surfing is as close to a faith as an extreme sport gets, and lets you get closer to nature than most other pastimes. The best part about it for many is that it takes you to some truly gorgeous corners of the world, where sun, salt, and sand combine in a wild adventure against stunning backdrops. New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for bombastic breaks and stirring swells at any time of the year. So if you are cruising through Milford Sound and feel the need to hit your stick and find some waves, these are some of the best beaches for surfing in New Zealand. 


    Probably the most popular and celebrated surf beach in New Zealand, and famous around the world, Raglan is THE place to go for wave riders and is a fitting place to start this list. The town itself, located on the North Island, is a charming little spot, but it’s picturesque delights don’t tell the full story of truly world-beating breaks.

    And it isn’t just Kiwis who come here. A number of global surfing events take place off the beach at Raglan, largely due to its three remarkable point breaks – Manu Bay, Whale Bay, and Indicators. But it isn’t just a spot for the pros; there is plenty of space for grommets and rookies too! Ngarunui Beach, for example, is a great stretch of sand to get started from, with calmer waters and gentler waves. 

    Surf Highway 45, Taranaki

    Surf Highway 45 does exactly what it says on the tin. A stretch of road in Taranaki that offers a collection of some of the prime surfing spots on the North Island’s west coast. A drive along the Surf Highway takes in Fitzroy, an awesome urban surf beach in New Plymouth, Kumera Patch, with some of the best lefties in New Zealand, Back Beach, for incredible swell, and Graveyards for daunting walls. 


    Located just off the coast of Auckland, Great Barrier Island is the largest and most seaward of the Hauraki Gulf islands. While there are plenty of awesome surf spots around the island (and across the archipelago, for that matter), Whangapoua stands out easily. A sheltered bay with gorgeous, unblemished sand, it boasts wild Pacific swells that top out over six foot, and multi-directional breaks. Not one for the newbies, it can be a powerful, adrenaline-filled ride, but absolutely worth it if you are brave enough to try!


    Right on the northern tip of the North Island, Northland is well-known for its great weather and delightful warm waters. It also boasts some brilliant surf beaches, with the ominously-named Shipwreck Bay rubbing shoulders with the best surf spots in the whole country. It offers a great variety of surf conditions, with breaks ranging from a soft, gentle ride all the way through to pumping barrels and crashing walls. With a little something for everyone it makes the perfect place for a surf trip.

    The Coromandel

    Another gorgeous North Island spot, the Coromandel Peninsula is about as picturesque as New Zealand gets. Showcasing some of the best natural beauty the country has to offer, it offers lush green fields, verdant rainforests, and glimmering golden-sand beaches. Two beaches stand out when it comes to surfing: Hot Water Beach and Whangamata Beach.

    Hot Water is a gem of a place even for non-surfers, thanks to the natural hot springs that give it its name. It boasts lefties and righties, but the chance to relax after a hard day’s surfing in your own private, natural hot tub is the real draw!

    Whangamata is a great all-rounder, with easy breaks just off the beach for beginners, and a bar that delivers long left-handers with serious barrels and a big, crunchy wall for the veterans.

    Pillar Point

    While surfing is definitely a community sport, sometimes you just want to grab your board and head somewhere without another person for miles around. If that’s the case, Golden Bay’s Pillar Point delivers in spades. At the top end of South Island, it is remote, quiet, exposed, and windswept, all of which combine to form a beach where you might very well be the only soul around. 


    To finish our list, we’ve got total photogenic gold in the form of Kaikoura. Think twenty-footers, the frost-capped peaks of Manakau in the background, and an ocean filled with dolphins and whales to keep you company. This is about as beautiful a spot to surf as you’ll find anywhere in the world, and you won’t want to leave without video and photographic evidence. 

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