With more than 15,000km – 9,321mi – of coastline to choose from, New Zealand is a surfer’s dream. Christchurch on the South Island has many epic surf spots, but they’re not for the faint-hearted.
Just a 25-minute drive from central Christchurch, Scarborough Beach in Sumner is a great place for beginners to get their feet wet and try standing on the board for the first time. The beach is broken up by rocky outcrops, and the sheltered bay is home to easy foamies that are perfect for beginners with longboards who want to give surfing a go. Hire equipment and book a lesson with Learn to Surf or Stoked Surf School, both based in Sumner.
One of Christchurch’s longest beaches, New Brighton is a popular spot for watersports and is home to the South New Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club. Just 10km (6mi) from the Christchurch city centre, New Brighton Beach has a long pier and can get pretty busy on summer days. The beach is good for beginner to intermediate surfers, and you can get ocean views from all angles in the properties that stretch along New Brighton Beach.
A more popular surf spot in Christchurch is Taylors Mistake, located between Sumner and Lyttelton. Taylors Mistake has slightly bigger waves up to 2.5m (8ft). Surfing in this stop works in big northerly and easterly swells, but it’s best in a southeasterly swell. The beach “relies on its banks for the quality of waves,” according to the Christchurch City Libraries, which say that the bay was historically “clouded in mystery and maritime drama.” The exact origin of the name, including who Taylor was and what the mistake was, is linked to two separate incidents – records show that the bay was referred to by this name as far back as 1853.
Another treasure in the Banks Peninsula is Hickory Bay. Just 92km (57mi) from Christchurch city, this sweet surf spot is next to a massive cliff face. The beach faces due east and is at the end of the peninsula. This bay gets waves from the south right around to the northeast. It features a sandy bottom and usually has great banks providing peaks along the beach.
A 69km (43mi) drive from Christchurch, Magnet Bay is one of several bays around the Banks Peninsula famous for its left-hand point break. The adventure begins before you even hit the board. Getting into the water can be a challenge because of the sharp boulders. The best time to hit the waves is at low to mid-tide. Look out for seals and light a fire after your surf to warm up in one of the caves. Magnet Bay is a haven for the more experienced surfer, and the experienced surfer never wants to be too far from the sea.
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