Surf New Zealand
|contributed by Rob Laking
I have been surfing for over ten years now and I have been surfed nearly everywhere in New Zealand. I just thought I'd write a little about Taranaki.
Taranaki, being an exposed cape on the west coast of the north island, receives more quality swell than anywhere else in New Zealand. The cape was formed by the omnipresent Mt Taranaki many thousands of years ago, and the round bolders erupted have formed atleast fifty classic reef/point setups along a 60 km streach of curving coastline. Access is good because of the many farm roads that radiate out to the coast from the main road.
As Taranaki is a cape, the surfer is able to find offshore winds in everything except straight west, but beware, in spring west winds are quite common. Late summer (Feb) is the best time to visit Taranaki, as the winds are usually offshore, the swells clean and the water warm, but there are still excellent waves all year round.
There are good beach breaks in New Plymouth, just ask the locals. Back Beach gets the most swell and is offshore from NE to SE. It is best from mid to high tide on a small to medium size swell. If the swell is big head north to fitzroy beach, or the reefs inbetween.
Most Taranaki locals will tell you that the best waves are "Down the coast". This involves a 15-60 min. drive south around the cape depending on the wind, the size of swell and your keeness.
If the wind is SW and the swell med/lge head to Oakura beach on a high tide, or down Ahu Ahu road on a low tide.
If the wind is S or SE head to Okato, and go down any road that heads to the coast. You will find atleast three good points down each one. Puniho, Komene, and Paora roads are all worth checking. If you find one spot too crowded, just walk 15 mins down the coast and you should find somewhere to yourself. There are roughly 20 good-excellent spots within 10km of each other here.
If the wind is E, N or NE first head down Stent Road. Once again, go exploring and you will find waves away from the major spot named after the road. If none of these spots are to your liking go 25 km or so down the coast to Opunaki. There is a gravel road that goes along the southern cliffs of Opunaki beach, which ends in a carpark/lookout, where you can see but a few of the many Opunaki points and reefs. Go exploring, ask the locals, drive down all the roads, walk across farmland to the coast -If you're resouceful, you'll get waves. The swell is usually much bigger in Opunaki than everywhere else. If it's only 1-2' in New Plymouth it could be 4-5' in Opunaki. Early morning often has the best conditions... Get there early. Most of the breaks work best at low-mid tide.
If the wind is N-NW ask a local how to get to "Greenmedows", which one of the only spots offshore in these conditions. If you're really keen and the swell is quite big drive down to the coast between Wanganui and Hawera. Have a look at the map, there are anumber of places that are offshore in N-NW winds including the longest righthander in New Zealand. Just have a look, but be warned you may come back a day later empty handed...
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This guide is part of the wiNZurf web site - last updated November 27, 1998