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*Christchurch North and Coast

Christchurch, the garden city, and home of the largest windsurfing club in the South Island. This is probably because of the wide range of places to sail; lakes harbour, ocean, and there are several windsurfing shops to choose gear from. In winter, the Mt Hutt ski fields are just an hours drive away, and mountain biking exploration is un- limited.Starting inland, the two main lake locations are Coleridge and Clearwater. Closer to the coast is lake Ellesmere and the Christchurch estuary. Just around from the estuary we have Sumner, and the other beaches along the coast north of Christchurch. Over the hill from Christchurch is Lyttelton Harbour, and slightly further away is Akaroa.

Dial-a-forecast: 0900 999 33 / 0900 499 10
Info Centre: Cnr Worcester & Oxford Tce. Ph 03 379 9629
Local Shops:

  • Eastcoast Windsurf and Ski. 1091 Ferry Rd. Ph 03 384 3788
  • Canterbury Windsurf. 3/ 1091 Ferry Rd. Ph 03 384 1741


SlalomRace boardLearnerRiggingHIRE
Access: Such a popular place to sail, that the Canterbury Windsurfing Association has developed a windsurfing park there: showers, wash down area, ramp, parking & grass rigging & BBQ areas etc.
Suits: Slalom, longboarding. Beginners......
Wind: NE = predominant and reliable 12 - 18 knots, can reach 25 knots. NW occasionally in summer and S in winter.
Water: Flat and shallow. Sailable 3 hours either side of high tide.
Watch: Other sailors when it's busy - take note of the 'right-of-way rules' sign at the park.
Hire Schools: From either of the above shops.
In Detail: The place where every Christchurch wind-surfer learned. Making one of the eastern borders of the city, it's close no matter where you live/stay. Being an estuary it's tidal, good for sailing about 1.5hrs before high, 2.5 after. At high tide only the channels are over most people's head. This is the safest location to sail at, you can't come to any serious harm (as long as you keep out of other people's way). The biggest problem is congestion. On a good day in summer, numbers easily get to 500+, and you have to share the place with three other yacht clubs. The estuary can be sailed in all winds, but the easterly sea breeze is by far the best. It comes up about lunchtime, depending on the amount of cloud cover, and how long it takes the plains to warm up. It often gets to 15-20kts, and is usually very steady. Good chop jumping can be enjoyed, and the estuary is serviced by three wind-surfing shops, so if anything breaks, you can be back on the water within minutes.
I was probably wrong when I said congestion was the biggest problem, getting the tide and the wind synchronised is probably worse. However if the tide is out, and you can water start, then there is always Lyttelton Harbour.


Wave sailingChop jumpingSlalomRigging
10 minutes from the city. Sumner beach is patrolled and there's plenty of parking and grass rigging areas.
Suits: Slalom, wavesailing. Intermediate...
Wind: NW = cross shore. NE = cross onshore. .
Water: Small to medium waves, better for jumping than riding. Waist deep between waves - good for learning to wavesail.
Watch: Swimmers. Undertow which carries sideways south.
In Detail: All these beaches are sailed in northerlies and westerlies, cross-offshore conditions. The more northern beaches are cross shore in notherlies. Following the coast south, back to Christchurch, it curves east, meaning these beaches are cross shore in nor-westers, and westerlies. Most of these beaches are popular summer swimming locations and are patrolled over the weekends and school holidays. Most of them are notorious for their pot-holes and rips, so sailing alone is not a good idea. Sumner is the most popular wave location in Christchurch, and is usually quite busy in a nor-west. It's five minutes drive from the estuary, so is also close to the shops if repairs are needed. I'm no expert when it comes to these locations as I've only sailed here once or twice, but on a good day I would guess at 2m breaks. It's certainly possible to pull off loops here (I've got the photos to prove it).


Wave sailingChop jumpingRigging
1.30 hour drive north of the estuary at the farthest end of Pegasus Bay. Picnic, rigging and parking areas. Sail out north to the point and reef.
Suits: Wavesailing. Intermediate...
Wind: NE = cross shore.
Water: Easy waves.
Watch: The reef. Choppy seas. Banks of kelp out the back which mark pillars of rock.

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