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Surfing in New Zealand


New Zealand is seen as one of the world’s top surfing spots with quality waves, plenty of choice and relatively few surfers.

The main source of swell for both the North and South islands is from the low pressure systems of the roaring forties but New Zealand is fortunate to pick up swell from just about anywhere.

Waves can be generated from the south, west from the Tasman Sea, north from cyclone systems and east from depressions.

New Zealand’s best known surf spot is Raglan in the North Island – half way down the west coast with a good left hand point that appears endless.

The Taranaki Peninsula offers lots of quality spots within a short distance. It is renowned for great waves and finding the ideal wind conditions is as easy as driving along the coast road – Surf Highway 45.

The South Island is colder particularly in winter but quality, empty surf more than makes up for the temperature. Top surfing spots are the Catlins on the south east coast where big wave surfing is the key attraction, the Dunedin coast which offers a variety of breaks, and Kaikoura’s powerful reefs and points.

Surfing reserves

Environmental damage to surf breaks around the world is a widespread problem and surfing reserves have been established in other surfing nations such as Australia. New South Wales and Victoria established surfing reserves when the world- famous break in Mundaca, Spain disappeared after dredging to deepen a harbour.
New Zealand’s 19 officially protected surf breaks are:

Peaks – Shipwreck Bay
Peaks – Super tubes – Mukie 2 – Mukie 1

Manu Bay – Raglan
Whale Bay – Raglan
Indicators – Raglan

Stent Road – Backdoor Stent – Farmhouse Stent

Makorori Point – Centres
Wainui – Stock Route – Pines – Whales
The Island

Whangamata Bar


Otago / Southland
The Spit
Whareakeake / Murdering Bay

Iconic NZ surf breaks officially protected

New Zealand’s reputation as one of the world’s top surfing spots has been future proofed by new legislation that protects the country’s most famous breaks.

Under the revised New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement which came into effect in December 2010 (3.12.2010), 19 top surf breaks are officially protected from inappropriate use and development.

New Zealand is known for quality waves, plenty of choice and relatively few surfers and the new legislation has been welcomed by the surfing fraternity as well as costal planners and environmentalists.

Seven surf regions

The breaks are located in seven New Zealand regions from Northland to Otago in the south, and include well known surfing spots in Raglan, Taranaki, Gisborne, the Coromandel Peninsula and Kaikoura.

The policy, which was proposed by the Department of Conservation, effectively awards the surf breaks national park status and is designed to give local authorities clearer direction on protecting and managing New Zealand’s coastal environment.

It covers protection of water quality, access or the placement of anything in or on the water that may hinder swell reaching the breaks, and prevents anything that may adversely affect their use and enjoyment.

Protection for further unnamed surf breaks will also be available with the new legislation requiring local authorities and decision makers to preserve the ‘natural character of the coastal environment’.

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