When it comes to world-class surfing and perfect waves, you might be tempted to think Australia first… but let me tell you that New Zealand is a perfect choice too.
And I will prove that to you today by sharing the absolute best surfing spots in NZ that you MUST try this year.
You will see that New Zealand is not just one of the safest countries in the world, but it has some epic waves to offer.
Thanks to the Pacific currents, the island nation is a surfer’s paradise waiting to be discovered. Be the first to do so by checking out my top favorite surfing spots below.
1. Raglan: The Surfer’s Haven
Let’s begin our journey on the west coast of the North Island.
Raglan, a small town nestled here, is every surfer’s dream come true. This is where I recommend you to start your surfing journey across New Zealand if it’s your first time here.
It’s here you’ll encounter some superb surfing spots, like Indicators and Whale Bay. (I’m marking one of the best surfing spots in the area on Google Maps – check it out!)
These spots are famous for their left-hand breaks, offering waves that can surge to an exhilarating two to ten meters high.
Ever surfed over two kilometers on a single wave? It’s possible on Raglan’s biggest days. It should come as no surprise that it’s near this small city that some world championship hosting events were held in the past (and probably more will be held in the future).
So, if you have any doubts as of where to start, Raglan, New Zealand is your #1 choice!
2. Kaikoura: Surfing with Wildlife
We’re now moving to the other side of the country, in South Island. Here, you will find the town of Kaikoura where you will also find some of the most amazing surfing spots in the region.
Not only that you have an amazing view from the town itself, which is nestled under Mount Fyffe, but you also have plenty of wildlife to make your surfing experience even greater.
It’s not uncommon to spot whales here or fur seals, so keep your eyes open if you can!
Because we all know that you’ll do a lot of surfing instead. I recommend the Meatworks, a right-hand break spot, comes alive with a good swell. And Mangamaunu’s beaches offer beach breaks rideable no matter the tide.
3. Taranaki Coast: Surfer’s Highway
Ever heard of Surf Highway 45? It runs along the coast around Mount Taranaki, on the North Island’s west coast.
Here, you’ll find some of the finest surfing spots in New Zealand and I am sure that the name of this part of the world is already making you happy. You have all the reasons to be!
Fitzroy Beach, famous for its hollow waves, is a popular spot here but it can get a bit crowded during the peak of the season.
Another great spot – and not as crowded – is Opunake Beach, housing the country’s first artificial surfing reef. The waves here are fantastic, and the town is just a stone’s throw away.
4. Gisborne: Dual Swell Surfer’s Delight
This is a place for more experienced surfers, for sure. It’s basically a surfer’s playground made special by the fact that this unique location catches swells from both the north and south.
Wainui Beach is a top pick here, especially the southern end.
The Stock Route offers both left and right-handed tube waves that create a surfer’s spectacle.
Makarori Center is another hotspot, where waves travel over sandbars and reefs before reaching the shore.
I repeat, though – this is for the more experienced surfers, so if you’re just starting, it’s better to choose any of the other recommendations in my article.
5. Dunedin: Embrace the Chill
Down on the South Island’s southeast coast, you’ll find Dunedin. It’s not necessarily the perfect spot – meaning that there can be some bad weather here… but it’s also this bad weather that makes some really nice waves.
If you want to test your skills, you can try heading out to St Clair Beach, where an annual surfing competition is held.
Known for its long, rolling waves, it’s a longboarder’s delight. With stunning cliffs and rock formations flanking the beach, it’s as picturesque as it gets.
Yes, it can get crowded when the waves are good, but it’s all worth it. The coastlines north and south of the city offer quieter spots, but beware of the chilly waters, especially in winter.
6. Piha Beach: The Black Sand Heaven
I can say that, if all stars align, nothing gets my adrenaline pumping quite like the mighty waves of Piha Beach.
This stunning black sand beach on Auckland’s rugged west coast is more than just a scenic paradise – it’s a high-energy playground for us wave-riders.
The strong currents and commanding waves offer a thrilling challenge that’s music to the ears of any experienced surfer. Breathtaking, just like the views are.
And, despite the other great places recommended in this article, Piha Beach, for me, is where the heart of New Zealand surfing truly beats.
7. Whangamata: Surfer’s Paradise
OK, I’m running out of epithets to describe these great surfing spots in New Zealand, but bear with me for a little longer.
Because next we have Whangamata, often called “a surfer’s paradise”. Nestled on the Coromandel Peninsula, this idyllic coastal town has some great spots for surfing.
You can find waves here that range from gentle for the rookies to powerful for the pros. With a vast sandy expanse, the beach provides plenty of room to catch waves without feeling crowded.
And if you’re new to the game, several surf schools in Whangamata are ready to help you get started.
8. Mount Maunganui: Last, but NOT Least
Finally, we have Mount Maunganui, with its breathtaking views of the Bay of Plenty and perfect waves for the surfing fans traveling to NZ.
This is also a more beginner-friendly spot, with gentler waves. Still, to surf at Mount Maunganui is to experience the true spirit of Kiwi surfing due to the mix of water and amazing views.
Post-surf, you’re spoilt for choice with cafes and restaurants dotting the beach, perfect for refueling or just kicking back.
If you haven’t visited already, you have to trust me when I say that New Zealand’s surfing scene is impressive – and you have 8 amazing places to test my words in.
Sure, there are plenty of other great surfing spots in NZ, but I will let you share those in the comments section below. If not, just make sure to check out one or more recommended above (don’t forget about my favorite, Piha Beach!).
Whether you’re a surfing fanatic, a nature lover, or a bit of both, New Zealand is the perfect destination for you. New Zealand’s waves, natural beauty, and eco-friendly ethos mix up well to make for a surf experience – and an overall vacation – like no other.