DANNY : DE HEKDo you want the ultimate challenge of huge energised groundswells, powerful waves, and big barrels trundling up steep shingle fan beaches?

There are heaps of unridden big wave ‘dragons’ to slay over the hill from Wellington in the Wairarapa region. You just need your surfboard, a tent, good mates and the desire to foot it around this rugged coast to nail the big boomers. The access roads are mainly loose gravel, and the weather is notoriously changeable, but the rewards are found in consistently big wave sets.

The excitement begins when you override your natural instincts for self-protection and launch into either Palliser Bay at Lake Ferry or Ning Nong Point and Ning Nong Reef (64 kms from Featherston). These hot spots have an assortment of reef and beach breaks which pump out good waves on all tides, and are rated by some locals as the best surfing locations in the Wellington region. Surfers can enjoy big southerly swells all along this coast to Cape Palliser but be wary of undertows and consult with locals where you can.

White Rock (48 kms from Martinborough) is widely acclaimed as a ‘monster’ wave location – a scaled-down New Zealand equivalent of Hawaii’s Sunset Beach. It has the heaviest surf conditions on this coast but provides you with a smorgasbord of left and right-hand reef and beach breaks on all tides. South of the road end is The Spit, which works well on an incoming tide producing humungous barrel waves that can satisfy the most discerning adrenalin junkies.

Tora is up the coast from White Rock and provides good competition for the biggest wave title. The main breaks are called Stix, Bombora, The Point and Shipwreck. These are all heavy reef breaks pouring over hazardous rock shelves and boulder banks and thus warrant a healthy respect for safety issues.

Riversdale (56 kms east of Masterton) offers pleasant breaks, which are lower than most others on this coast and are rated for fun rather than fury. Castlepoint (69 kms east of Masterton) offers outstanding heavy beach breaks coming off a series of sandbanks and is considered by many to be a top-class surfing spot. The Reef, The Gap and Christmas Bay are the three best breaks, all being quite powerful and challenging in heavy groundswell conditions.