To get amongst some of the best surf on New Zealand’s east coast you will need to go overseas – that is by plane or fast ferry to ‘The Barrier’.
This eastern bulwark protects the Hauraki Gulf and is a haven for outdoor lovers and alternative lifestylers, as well as heaven for surfers, divers, hunters and fishermen.
It can give you a really big high to ride perfect Pacific swells sweeping onto a pristine white sand beach, which is exclusively yours for the whole day. Any of the four popular east coast beaches on ‘The Barrier’ are great for hanging with your mates, chilling out and enjoying the freedom of the ocean.
Whangapoua Beach is only a short walk from Okiwi Airfield and is straight across the island from the Port Fitzroy ferry terminal. Good surf waves break over sandbanks across the mouth of the Whangapoua Estuary producing beaut barrels in a north-easterly swell. Entry is by paddling out through the surf or by hopping off the south end rocks.
The other three good beach breaks are down the coast near Claris Airfield and across the island from the other ferry terminal at Tryphena. Awana Beach is noted for its good all year round surfing conditions and the variety of waves resulting from rapidly shifting sandbanks. Any respectable easterly swell will push up fast-moving, heavy beach breaks on an incoming tide.
The largest beach on the east coast is Kaitoke boasting a number of good beach breaks all the way down to the island at the south end. The sweetest sand bar breaks are normally at Palmer’s Beach at the north end and in front of the Kaitoke Creek mouth.
Medlands is the nearest surf beach to Tryphena and has good sand bar breaks along its entire length, particularly on an incoming tide. Shark Alley is a popular right hand break at the southern end that rolls over rocky reefs and merges with the sand bar breaks.
All ‘The Barrier’ surf beaches will provide you with an enjoyable surfing experience, but care is needed when waves peak over 2 metres.