Where to Surf on the North Island
With New Zealand being two relatively small islands, you are not too far from stretching coastlines to spot a surf. Whether you want to learn in a well-known surf beach such as Raglan or be a kamikaze surfer seeking seclusion and powerful waves, there are waves for everyone. Surfing is a must-do activity while travelling on the North Island and is certainly a favourite Kiwi pastime. With that, there are plenty of places to surf on the North Island.
Don’t know where to start to begin to find pumping waves? Let the list below be a starting point for greatness! Plus, don’t forget to check out the list for some awesome South Island surf spots too.
This tiny town is the home to New Zealand’s most famous surf spot thanks to its consistent conditions. The waves here are ideal for beginners to advanced riders. Ngaranui Beach is a safe place to start off, but Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators will definitely test you. Book yourself a surf lesson with Raglan Surfing School on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook. For more things to do in Raglan, see 10 Must-Dos in Raglan.
Location: Ngaranui Beach – end of Ngaranui Beach Road. Manu Bay – end of Manu Bay Road. Whale Bay – western end of Whale Bay. Indicators – east side of Whale Bay, off Whaanga Road. All surf breaks are located in Raglan, Waikato.
Piha is in the wild Auckland district of the Waitakere Ranges. It’s a black sand beach with powerful beach breaks, so is a must for experienced surfers. Beginners are advised to go out with an instructor, such as the Piha Surf Academy (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), as the rips are pretty strong. For more surf breaks in the Waitakere Ranges, check out Waitakere Ranges – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: Piha Beach – Marine Parade, Piha, approximately 40km (25 miles) from Auckland Central.
3. Te Arai Point
Another Auckland delight, this time on the east coast, Te Arai is a spot more known among locals. It is one of the best east coast Auckland surf beaches, so is well worth a visit if you’re a keen surfer. Newbies, however, can check out Aotearoa Surf School for lessons (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Te Arai Point Road, Te Arai, approximately 103km (64 miles) from Auckland Central.
4. Shipwreck Bay
Not only does this beach have an awesome name that evokes images of pirates and buried treasure, but you will practically sail the sea on the long rides this beach offers on a good swell. Shipwreck Bay is near Ahipara in the Northland region and is one of the lesser-visited places to surf on the North Island. Check out our Northland category for more things to do in the area.
Location: Wreck Bay Road, Ahipara, Northland.
This is a hugely popular Auckland surf spot, especially in summer with the Muriwai Surf School giving lessons and board hire nearby. On huge swell days, Muriwai is best left to the experienced. The location also has a nearby gannet colony well worth checking out. Plus, as you can see from the picture below, it’s great for atmospheric sunsets. Check out more activities nearby in the 6 Best Things to Do in Muriwai.
Locations: Access off Jack Butt Lane and the end of Motuara Road, Muriwai, approximately 42km (26 miles) from Auckland Central.
Experienced wave riders flock to the nearby Wainui Beach while newbies can learn on the safe sandy-bottom waves of Gisborne’s city beach, Waikanae Beach. If you’re new to surfing, you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a surf school in Gisborne, including Surfing with Sarah, Salt Shack Surf School and Blitz Surf Shop.
Location: Waikanae Beach – End of Grey Street, Roberts Road or Stanley Road. Wainui Beach – the Wainui Surf Lifesaving Club is on Moana Road, Wainui, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Gisborne.
7. Whangapoua Bay
Located on Great Barrier Island, Whangapoua has beach breaks and river mouth breaks. It’s an awesome place to find uncrowded beaches in the Auckland region, mainly because Great Barrier Island is, well, an island. For more information on how to get there are what else to do there, check out Great Barrier Island – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: End of Mabey Road or from Whangapoua Beach Campsite, Great Barrier Island, Auckland.
8. White Rock
In the Wellington and Wairarapa region, White Rock and its surf break Seconds is challenging to get to but worth the trip for the big waves this area is known for. Part of the drive is on a gravel road and you can either drive down the beach in a 4WD to get to Seconds from White Rock or walk there. Check the surf report before you go though, as the area has inconsistent waves.
Location: White Rock Road or Ngapotiki Road, approximately 57km (35 miles) from Martinborough, Wairarapa, Wellington.
9. Fitzroy Beach
A mid-city surf beach with awesome views of Mt Taranaki, Fitzroy Beach is close to all the conveniences of New Plymouth. Plus, it is part of the Taranaki Surf Highway 45, which you can follow to find a ton of places to surf; they are all listed in the 18 Places to Stop at on Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45.
Location: Access by the East End Surf Life Saving Club at the end of Nobs Line or Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club off Ron Barclay Drive, New Plymouth, Taranaki.
10. The Bluff
At the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach, The Bluff is a rocky and sandy outcrop uncharacteristic of the otherwise perfectly straight Ninety Mile Beach. Surfing can be done around the sandy and rocky point, which provides some safer surfing than what you would experience if you hit the rough west coast waves elsewhere on the beach.
Location: End of Oromanga Road (gravel road), Te Kao, approximately 73km (45 miles) from Kaitaia.
More About Surfing in New Zealand
That’s it for our list of top places to surf on the North Island. For more surf-related goodness, check out the following guides:
- 7 Best Places to Surf in the South Island
- The Best Surf Regions in New Zealand
- 10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand
You might also be inspired by the 51 Best Things to Do in the North Island.