While New Zealand may not be quite as famous as its neighbor Australia for surfing, the Pacific waters around the island mean there are plenty of different surfing spots located around the coast. Many of the waters around the country offer good surfing conditions, and the largest waves are generally found on the west coast of the islands where the prevailing winds will often drive large waves towards the coast.
The small town of Raglan is located on the west coast of the North Island, and is to the west of the city of Hamilton, which is the nearest large settlement. The section of coast to the north and south of the town has several good surfing spots, with the breaks at Indicators and Whale Bay both being very popular thanks to the left hand break that usually offers waves between two and ten meters in height. During the days when the largest waves are on offer, it is possible to surf over two kilometers between Indicators down to Whale Bay, although locals claim that only one person has ever achieved this feat.
Because of the excellent waves to be had here Raglan has previously hosted a surfing event in the world championship, and it also has a surfing school as there are also waves suitable for those learning to surf.
On the east coast of the South Island, the town of Kaikoura is one of the most attractive places to spend time, situated in the shadow of Mount Fyffe and noted for being a particularly diverse place in terms of wildlife, with sperm whales and fur seals common in the waters off coast. There are several surfing sites around the area, although one of the most creatively named is The Meatworks, which is a right hand break that is best surfed when there is a good swell. The beaches at Mangamaunu are also very good, with a beach break that can be surfed whether the tide is in or out.
The coastline around Mount Taranaki in the west of New Zealand’s North Island is noted for having a number of the country’s best surfing spots that are easily accessible from Surf Highway 45, a road running from New Plymouth around the peninsula to the town of Hawera. One of the most popular sites in this area is Fitzroy Beach, which is famous for its great hollow waves while it is also a popular swimming spot in the summer. Opunake Beach is another of the popular sites along this stretch of coast, and is home to the first artificial surfing reef in New Zealand, which offers good waves and is within easy walking distance from the town of the same name.
The Gisborne area of New Zealand is to be found on the eastern coast of the North Island, and is particularly popular as it tends to get swells from the north and south depending on the conditions. This means there are plenty of surf sites in the area, with Wainui Beach getting some of the best waves particularly at the southern end, where the Stock Route offers both left and right handed tube waves that are spectacular for surfing. Makarori Center is another popular site where the waves pick up traveling over sandbars and reefs before getting to the beach.
While Dunedin is a city that is often subjected to harsh weather conditions on the south east coast of the South Island, these conditions also help to make the city one of the best sites in the country for surfing. There are some nice surfing breaks on the coast of the city itself, with the St Clair beach being one of the most popular sites in the city hosting an annual competition. Elsewhere the coast to the north and south of the city offers some quieter surfing spots, although it is always wise to be aware of the cold water conditions in this part of the country, as it can get very nippy in the winter.