Our guide to riding the green bus and blue slabs across New Zealand!
The turbulence created by breaking waves alters the physical structure of the air and water, breaking apart water and air molecules and releasing charged ions* into the atmosphere. On their eternal quest for perfect waves surfers inevitably encounter this altered atmospheric state. –Bridget Reedman ‘Coastal Watch’
New Zealand offers an abundance of incredible surf. Small Islands at the bottom of the world, getting the same swells that pump in to Fiji, Tahiti, and Australia’s East Coast. Once you add in epic scenery, bungy jumping, sheep, hobbits, and mince pies. You realize this place is a paradise.
I’m taking you through the best surf spots on the Kiwi Experience circuit. Giving away the best spots in all of New Zealand would be a cardinal sin to the surf gods, however jump on the bus and you’ll soon find the more common spots still boast loads of world class waves.
1. Piha Beach, North Island
You arrive at the International airport in Auckland, get your board bag through customs and pump down a jug of coffee. Trying to get out of your already jetlagged state. Walk out in to the sun and think it’s time to chuck the wax on. Ask a local you see with his boards on the roof where to go, “you’ll score in Piha mate.”
Piha has one of the largest surf cultures in NZ. Consistent swell on the West Coast of Auckland, the infamous Piha Bar, and sick scenes of Lion Rock while you’re slicing apart a long left hander. Only 40 min drive out across the Waitakere Ranges. Come back to Auckland after you’ve torn it apart out West and wait for your Kiwi Bus the next morning.
2. 90 Mile Beach, North Island
If you’re looking for a spot all to yourself, this place is perfect. Hop on the Bay of Islands bus and head up to Paihia, divert to Cape Reinga the following day and jump off at 90 Mile Beach. The massive sand dunes scope down the horizon, consistent swell from the Tasman sweeps in, and you can walk about looking for any break out there. All to yourself. If there’s no swell on, don’t be afraid to coast down the dunes on some sand boards. This place truly appeals to the solidarity of New Zealand.
3. Hot Water Beach, North Island
The first southbound overnight on the Kiwi Experience bus brings you to the infamous Hot Water Beach. This break off the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula offers golden sand beach and long right hand beach breaks. Hot Water Beach can have a wave for everyone depending on the size. After a hard sesh in the water, dig up a spot in the sand and let the hot geothermal water from below fill up. Sit back and relax while watching the sunset in this natural hot spring.
4. Wellington, North Island
Our capital city here in New Zealand, Wellington offers heaps of different beach/point breaks. Spots like Lyall Bay form up wally hollow waves. You don’t have to worry about wind because there is plenty of it in the capital. After the surf, enjoy the one of the better nightlife's in NZ, or head around to the National Museum Te Papa.
5. Westport, South Island
As you roll into Westport on the bus, chuck your stuff in the room at Bazils Surf Hostel. This chilled out hostel is run by some West Coast Rippers who can show you all of the class waves. Jump into your heavier wetsuit as you are south now, and try out Whale Bay. Another notorious West Coast left-hander. Enjoy the walks around Westport on your down time, lots of sights to check out as you rest up.
6. Greymouth, South Island
Not an overnight stop on the bus, however for the adventurous looking to score some solid waves all to themselves, Greymouth offers just that. Hop off and spend a few nights on the West Coast. Right, left, fast, hollow, punchy and much more. There is a wave for everyone here. Chill out in the small gold mining town, enjoy some peace and quiet.
7. Dunedin, South Island
Probably the furthest south you’ll bring out your quiver in New Zealand, Dunedin is a swell magnet. Make sure you bring lots of rubber, this water is COLD. Take your time in this city as you can head to the Cadbury Factory, or walk up the steepest street in the world.
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8. Christchurch, South Island
On the East Coast of the South Island, Christchurch offers new a trendy city with smooth waves. Beautiful coastline and uncrowded breaks, highlight why this place should not be looked past. After you pump it out in the water, head on down to the container mall built after the earthquake and grab a bite to eat.
9. Kaikoura, South Island
Kaikoura has many different reef breaks that surfers have been coming to for years. Recently hit by a large earthquake, Kaikoura has been busy rebuilding their incredible little city. Nature did gift surfers some epic new breaks after the quake, which is even more of a reason for you to check it out. If you haven’t had enough of the water, go swim with the dolphins and scope out the whales that hang around the area.