The changeable conditions mean that there are limited surfing challenges around Wellington for the confident master shaper. However, the big southerly swells do drive in some good breaks under the right conditions. The long stretches of sandy coastline curving up through the Manawatu to Wanganui also offer good breaks over shifting sandbanks.
Wellington’s south coast surf activity is centred on Lyall Bay. This big open bay has a fine pedigree as Maranui Surf Club members pioneered surf riding on 5 metre boards back in the 1920’s. ‘The Wall’ is the prime spot in the bay. A sandbank off the end of the airport breakwater forces up a fast break that can carry you right to the beach on a good day. Houghton and Island Bays lie west of Lyall Bay and offer good reef and beach breaks in a strong southerly ground swell.
Driving up the west coast from Wellington brings you to Titahi Bay where there are good beach breaks. The big onshore swells tend to break well outside the bay, giving you the chance to rock’n’roll back and forth across the bay. Further up the coast, holiday beaches such as Otaki, Foxton and Himatangi can provide good breaks at high tide with a heavy west or south-west swell.
Wanganui River mouth (13 kms south of Wanganui) creates a fine left-hand bar break in a southerly swell. South Beach across the river also fires at high tide in a big swell. Castlecliff Beach to the north of the river mouth offers three main beach breaks which perform well at high tide when a sea is running.
Kai-Iwi Beach (16 kms from Wanganui) is a popular swimming and surfing venue with an irregular beach break at high tide. Waitotara, also known as ‘The Point’ (32 kms north of Wanganui) has fantastic left and right-hand reef breaks, which hold up to 4 metre waves when conditions are suitable.