5 Great Surf Spots in New Zealand

In 1995, Greg Townsend became the first full-time employee of Surfing New Zealand, helping to establish the country as the top-tier surfing destination that it is today.

Leaving Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

In 1995, Greg Townsend became the first full-time employee of Surfing New Zealand, a grassroots organization founded in 1963 to develop the sport of surfing throughout the country. “I took a gamble”, Townsend says. “When I started they had a lot of history. But financially, they had nothing.” At the time, there were disparate surfing communities around the country, but little to no reach promoting its beaches as top-tier surfing destinations. Townsend’s first plan of action: buy an old car and tour the country, assembling anyone and everyone, from local riding clubs to independent wax makers, under the blanket of Surfing New Zealand. Today, Townsend is CEO, and he’s played a hand in developing New Zealand into a surfing capital of the world.

2015 marked both 20 years for Townsend at Surfing New Zealand, and also saw the debut of The Ultimate Waterman, an invite-only competition across six different disciplines, which include, among others, shortboard surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and waka ama, the New Zealand term for long-distance canoeing. (Daniel Kereopa, a New Zealand local, took home the first year’s title.) Today, Townsend still spends what little free time he has in the ocean, mostly in his backyard of Raglan, the home of Surfing New Zealand’s headquarters. Ask him to recall where he caught his best wave ever and he can answer immediately: “Mangahume, in Taranaki. It was just one of those sessions that you’ll never forget.” Here, Townsend shares his five favorite spots across New Zealand to catch waves. “It’s cold”, he warns. “But pleasing for us [locals] — keeps away the crowds.”

Surf-Spots-Expert-Gear-Patrol-
Greg Townsend in Auckland, NZ

Mangahume

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Region: Taranaki, North Island
Closest Airport: New Plymouth Airport (38 miles)
Type: Reef
Surf: Reliable
Hazards: rocks

Learn More: Here

Porpoise Bay

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Region: The Catlins, South Island
Closest Airport: Invercargill Airport (39 miles)
Type: Beach, Break
Surf: Reliable
Hazards: sharks, rips, rocks

Learn More: Here

Sherpa Surf Guide App

Sherpa Surf Guide is New Zealand’s leading surfing app, providing users with a comprehensive overview of real-time surf conditions across the country. With a database comprised of over 300 spots across the country, Sherpa provides six-day forecasts for each locale, which can then be saved as “favorites” for quick access. And the best part? It’s free. sherpasurfguide.com

Purakaunui Bay

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Region: Catlins, South Island
Closest Airport: Dunedin Airport (51 miles)
Type: Beach
Surf: Reliable
Hazards: sharks, rips

Learn More: Here

Aramoana Spit

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Region: Otago, South Island
Closest Airport: Dunedin Airport (27 miles)
Type: Beach
Surf: Reliable
Hazards: sharks

Learn More: Here

Mahia Reef

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Region: Hawke’s Bay, North Island
Closest Airport: Gisborne Airport (30 miles)
Type: Reef
Surf: Inconsistent
Hazards: rocks

Learn More: Here

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