Best surfing locations in NZ

Surfing: Seven of the Best Right-Handers in NZ

As I’m sure most of you are aware, Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand. The common translation is "the land of the long white cloud". But on occasion, you may hear surfers refer to Aotearoa with an alternative translation - the land of the long wide lefts. This is, of course, due to our island nation’s abundance of left-hand point breaks. NZ really is goofy foot heaven.

Anyone worth their salt will be familiar with the triple peaks of Raglan, “Shippies” and the seemingly never-ending wave options that extends from Blue House all the way to Wreck Bay. Mangawhai Bar is another fan favourite that on its day can mimic the high-quality reef breaks of some of our Pacific Island neighbours (minus the temperate water). In Taranaki, Kumera Patch will inflict some serious noodle legs as it wraps interminably around the headland. Add Magnet Bay, Whangamata Bar and many more, and the options for a quality left-hand wave are practically endless in our coast-drenched country.   

Sadly, I am not a goofy footer.

It’s alright. I am ok. Thanks for your support. Actually, you don’t need to feel too bad for us natural footed wave riders. In fact, here are seven of the best right-handers in New Zealand for you to salivate over. Some are well known (read: busy), others are less frequented. Feel free to lend your support to our choices, shout at us for our ignorance, or play down the quality of the wave - to avoid an influx of visitors during the next swell.

Stent Road
Taranaki’s Stent Road doesn’t require any introduction. Any surfing spot that must resort to painting a rock with the name of the break on it because the road sign keeps getting pinched has got to have some pedigree. Stent is a fantastic wave that can hold big swells and features a tricky takeoff and critical first bowl section. Navigate that successfully and you are offered a long fast wall to do with what you will. The wave offers good tubes in the right conditions and is worthy of its enviable reputation.

Stent Road
Photo credit:

Kaikoura is a wave paradise with Mangamaunu one of the jewels in its crown. Visible from the road, Manga’s offers a classic right-hand point that grinds perfectly in solid east and south-east swells. Get ready for rides of up to 300 metres and a long paddle back to the point! For how long though? A petition to 'Save Mangamaunu' is currently circulating after local Ministers have proposed a seawall and a cycleway in the foreshore and coastal hazard zone within the Mangamaunu surf break and bay. Click here to sign the petition.


Murdering Bay
Over the hill from Dunedin lies the world-class Murdering Bay. While most of us can only dream of this South Island wave in all its glory, the truth is the wave is pretty crowded when it’s on. Murdering Bay needs a large northeast or easterly swell and works best on mid to low tide. 

Whangapoua Bar  
Also known as ‘Okiwi’ due to proximity to the airfield of the same name, surfing Whangapoua Bar is certainly an adventure. The flight to Great Barrier is scenic, yet notoriously bumpy. The Great Barrier itself feels like you are going back in time twenty years, such is the hospitality of the residents. If you are surfing the Okiwi river break expect a fast take-off, with a short hollow section, followed by a long wall. North and northeast swells only. Check out the old school photo below!

Photo credit: Surf Forecast

The Spit - Cape Palliser
I have to admit, I am actually yet to surf this spot personally and I am relying on the advice of others more fortunate than I. My last (failed) attempt saw the road flooded and impassable. White Rock Spit is legendary for its hollow take off and long fast wall. The break features both a right and left around the spit to keep the whole family happy! The Spit handles massives swells though is a relatively easy paddle to get to the takeoff. Wild and stunning, works best on east and southeast swells.

Photo credit: Surf Seeker

I told you Kaikoura was a wave mecca! Just down the road from Mangamaunu – on the south side of the township – lies the spectacular, yet dangerous, Kahutara. This epic right-hand point is best when extra large southeast or southerly swells roll in. The wave can offer shingle spitting tubes and super speed runs. Enjoy, but be careful.

Photo credit: Karl Taylor

Whakatane Heads
After a committed paddle to get out the back, expect a quick ledging takeoff and hollow wall. Whakatane Heads affords a picturesque harbour entrance and works on north, northeast and easterly swells. Best at low to mid tide. Expect crowds.

Photo credit:
Three Points
Three points is an isolated wave. Located north of Tolaga Bay it is offshore in southerly winds and best with big east and southeast wrapping swells. Make sure your fitness is up to scratch - and expect an arm tingling paddle to get out into the lineup! Known as Three Points due to the three distinct sections, the surf break is powerful and hollow!

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