This is a lovely, safe environment for all levels of surfing enthusiasts to get together and enjoy. There are several peaks to choose from with both right and left handers, which means if you’re new to the sport you can concentrate on honing the side you feel most comfortable with. The wave is punchy and can get hollow but supplies a good bit of fun. This break is only 10 minutes from Tauranga so expect it to be busy with fellow surfers as well as swimmers.
This surf break is for the doubly keen, and is actually unique when it comes to the spots in our top five. This is because this surf break is on a private beach and surfers have to pay a small fee, into an honesty box, for the privilege of riding the waves here. It’s a good spot for the intermediate to expert class of surfers, and you have to keep your wits about you for rocks at some point. The wave itself is punchy and powerful with steep drop-ins and hollow sections. There are several peaks along the beach to choose from, with both right and left handers to ride, depending on your preference.
Once again, being knowledgeable of the local surf etiquette and respectful of the locals is key when surfing this east coast surf break. Whakatane Heads is one of the most popular surf spots in the region and so, of course, it can get inundated with surfers when the conditions are of the pristine variety. The break is located on the west side of the mouth to the Whakatane River, which means you actually have to paddle across the river itself. Be aware that there are strong currents to be navigated, as well as passing boats. However, once you’ve passed to the other side, this cracking right-hander with its fast and hollow, great performance wave is well worth the effort.
Located just north of Houpoto and south of Whitianga Bay, Motu River mouth is a right-hand point break on a shingle/stoney river mouth. This bottom – which isn’t much fun to be raked over if you mess up – combined with the good quality right hander, which produces hollow barrels and peels along for long rides, makes this more the hunting ground of the expert surfer. It’s quite unforgiving conditions, so you want to know that you can handle bigger waves and slightly rougher rides and get out of them at the end on your own terms. Definitely not to be missed by those travelling solely for the surf.
The main beach at Mount Manganui is your typical east coast beach with beautiful white sand. It’s extremely popular so the first rule of surfing here is to keep your eyes peeled for fellow surfers and swimmers. The beach can often get a sucky, hollow shore break, and when it’s big you can use the rips to get out the back – great for saving energy for the paddling. This surf spot is brilliant because it’s great for all surfers, whether you’re a wee grommet or a hardened and knowledgeable local. You can snare a good right point break off the point at Moturiki Island, also known as the blowhole, at the south end of the beach.