DANNY : DE HEKTurn off the Napier-Gisborne highway at Nuhaka if you want to experience the challenge of remote wilderness surfing.

Mahia is one of the east coast ‘hidden treasures’ with big barrelling waves assaulting both sides of the triangular peninsula in heavy swells. Base yourself at Mahia or Opoutama camps and you can follow the waves to Diners Beach on the east coast, or numerous hot spots on the north and west coasts.

Diners (30 km from Mahia Camp) surfs well in a light east or south-east swell and is the place to be if the other Mahia breaks are too tame. The Spit is closer to Mahia and throws up a super sick left-hander along the reef in a north-east swell. Look along the coast towards Table Cape and you will see numerous reef breaks barrelling in, which you can claim and tame – a free-riding fun park for the adventurous surfer.

Mahanga Beach is relatively sheltered on the northern coastline with good beach and reef breaks on all tides, and is suitable for less experienced surfers. Oputama Beach is well protected and also good for beginners who want a safe ride on small southerly swells. Waikokopu Bay and Point Annihilation (40 kms east of Wairoa) are where the big action begins in 2 metre southerly swells. It can be a long paddle out to the line up, but this fast moving right reef break gives a long exhilarating ride into a small bay. Look towards Oputama from the Point car park and you will spot a break called Tracks, where the railway line touches the coastline. Tracks is a right-hand point break, less dramatic than the Point, and easier to enter.

Over the hill from Waikokopu is a reef break that really delivers mean vertical take-offs in big southerly swells. Rolling Stones is an apt description as the pounding waves actually move boulders around on the seabed in a 3 metre swell. The Stones holds the ultimate stand-up barrels on this coast but the rugged reefs show no mercy to the inexperienced.

Black Reef (35 kms east of Wairoa) has the consistent left and right-hand reef breaks, which are best at low tide in a moderate southerly swell, but watch out for the shallow reefs.