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Best surf breaks in New Zealand

Summer's here and surf's up in New Zealand – check out these amazing beaches and wave breaks to find your next surf spot.

Surfing in New Zealand has to be one of the best parts of spending summer here. Wake up early, load up the truck and head to one of these beaches for a day in a world class surfing destination.

North Island

Shipwreck Bay

Northland is New Zealand’s kindest surfing spot, thanks to its warm and humid summer temperatures. You have to be on the west for the waves of the Tasman Sea, as the Pacific side is pretty easy-going. Shipwreck Bay is a vast stretch of sand on the west side, close to Kaitaia, and home to some world-class surf breaks. It takes a few hours to reach this beach, so make it a weekend (or weeklong) trip to 90 Mile Beach.

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The rugged West Coast extends all the way to Auckland and onto the black sand beaches in Muriwai. The beach breaks generally tend to have smaller swells extending to 8ft, which means it’s the perfect option if you’re travelling with a big group of surfers. Te Henga (Bethells Beach) is a little further south and a good alternative if Muriwai gets too crowded.


Tauranga Bay

Mt Maunganui makes the perfect backdrop for a day’s summer surfing, and the waves are small enough for beginners. The town was fuelled by the surfing boom in New Zealand, which is what made it this little beach township. Relax with a coffee after a morning on the waves.

Piha Beach

If you think Piha Beach looks good from here, imagine riding into the bay on your board. It’s one of the most popular spots to surf, as the waves are long, strong and consistent all year round. Unfortunately, this is one for the more experienced surfers. You’re still bound to appreciate Piha Beach as it’s one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

Piha Beach

Surf Highway 45

Surf Highway 45 will have you stopping off every half hour to check out the swells and breaks of New Zealand’s West Coast. In fact, the Taranaki coastline has some of the best surf spots outside of the Raglan area. You can find the world’s biggest surf board in Oakura and surf in Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Park – which is a truly unique experience (just look out for the rocks)!

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Opunake Beach

This is on the south end of the surf highway and it makes it onto this list as it’s rarely overcrowded. There are right and left point breaks all along the beach and the waves start at around 3-5ft but extend up to 10ft. It might not have the biggest swells but the laid back surf town is set for a weekend on the coast.


This is probably the most famous of the surf spots in New Zealand and Manu Bay is known for its world-class offshore tubes. Ocean Beach is better for a swim and novices can check out the Raglan Surf School.


There are two main surfing beaches in Gisborne – Waikanae Beach (for the beginners) and Wainui Beach (for the intermediates). Makorori Point is a famous surf spot in New Zealand just off Gisborne, which is also worth checking out.

South Island


Dunedin is a city on the south coast of the South Island and there are plenty of surf breaks for all surfers. Just north of Port Chalmers, Murdering Bay has plenty of long waves, and Aramoana Spit produces heavy barreled peaks. There are more gentle breaks in South Dunedin at Blackhead.

West Coast

Although the South Island’s west coast shares the same sea with 90 Mile Beach, the landscape couldn’t be more different. The rough waves and rugged shoreline give this place the nickname of the “Wild Coast” and finding a surf spot is an absolute breeze. Drive up to Greymouth or Westport to find surf breaks off the coast (Shingles is a favourite with Kiwi surfers, and the beach is never too busy).

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Mason Bay, Stewart Island

Head to the Deep South for a truly kamikaze wave break – Stewart Island is 24km away from Dunedin and the main beach is Mason Bay. The breaks aren’t totally consistent but when they’re there, they’re big – and you’ll usually have the whole beach to yourself.

Ready to start your surfing trip? Book your flights now, or check out more summer holiday inspiration in New Zealand.