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New Zealand Surfing - A Few of the Best Secret Spots

Dreaming of catching yourself a wave or two in solitary bliss? New Zealand has more than a few spots where dodging the flying surfboards and battling it out for wave time with other surfers need be no more than a bad dream of the past.

There's a few choices on both islands which include every kind of break – reef, beach, point, river-mouth - where the need to share nicely becomes redundant. That is, excepting the possibility of companionship in the form of a passing pod of dolphins or a curious sea-lion or two.

Eastland – North Island

Gisborne, which sits at the bottom end of the Eastland region, is well and truly on the young and happening surfers' map but venture a little further north and you will dramatically increase your chances of some lone board time. Because of the region's geography and limited road choices this area is not somewhere that folk pass through on the way to somewhere else – you come here to be here. This region, which receives swell from top to bottom and has a range of break types, is still one of the least explored from a travellers' perspective which means lucking into an empty spot along this coast is almost guaranteed.

Wairarapa – North Island

Empty, empty, empty. It's because it takes a bit more effort to get to, surf spots are often long car journeys apart and there is an attempt at being territorial by a few local surfers. Much of this area is still unplotted as far as surf exploration goes so pack your camping gear, jump in your car or van and head for adventure.

The Karikari Peninsula – North Island

This peninsula is quite small and checking out several spots within the same day is easy. Mostly beach breaks, this area needs particular swell directions to work but the joy of a peninsula is that if one side isn't working the other side often is.

Many of the spots are not named so you'll have to find the exact breaks for yourself but head out with your adventurous head on and it's highly likely you will find yourself a beach break of cute little barrels all to yourself.

Karikari Peninsula
Karikari Peninsula

Rarawa – North Island

Talcum powder-soft pure white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters at this beautiful beach break make for some true soul surfing time here. What's more there is a gorgeous little riverside Department of Conservation camp-site which means you can pitch up your van or tent, roll out of bed at sunrise and have the sea all to yourself the majority of the time.

Motutara Farm, Northland – North Island

This farm is actually a vast camp-site of the highly unique variety with three beaches all to itself. You can usually access the land to surf here whenever you like if you ask permission or better still camp up for a few nights and surf 'til your arms turn to jelly. Typically this will be in perfect solitude outside of high season.

There is a magnificent sand bar/river mouth here which needs a large swell to work but is something special when it does.

Mahia Peninsula – Northland

Again the geological land formation here gives you options to pick between opposing coasts and the most favourable conditions with regard to swell height and direction, wind direction and tide. Although the good quality reef here sometimes attracts a handful of people, the beach breaks are often empty so scoring a wave just for yourself is more than possible.

Curio Bay – South Island

This isn't exactly a secret spot but it earns itself a place in the waves-less-ridden lists because it is often totally empty of surfers. Curio Bay is off the beaten track and has few visitors of any kind. Also, the water here at the very foot of the South Island can be a little frigid (wet suit required) which also deters the not-so-committed. The last factor which contributes to why it is often empty of surfers is because in this part of the world the surfers tend to be of the 'giant wave riding' kind and don't bother to get out of bed for anything under double overhead high.

And the icing on the cake here......the world's rarest and smallest marine dolphin call this bay home and – because they just LOVE to surf too - sharing a wave with them is not uncommon.

Curio Bay
Curio Bay

And a Final Word

The trick to finding an un-crowded wave is to head as far from a city as you can. The population of New Zealand is mainly an urban one – a huge percentage of Kiwis live in the cities and a tiny fraction are scattered elsewhere over the two islands. Anywhere that is within driving distance of Auckland (where more than a quarter of New Zealand's entire population live) is going to be wall-to-wall surfers and this includes the Coromandel.

There are far more secret spots than those listed here, some of which can only be unearthed by chancing on them or getting in with the local surf crew who are happy to share their knowledge.

Additionally, having your own transport is crucial if you want to really seek out the unvisited surf spots and have some true just-me-and-the wave moments.

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