BEST WAVESAILING IN TARANAKI
This is the second of a series of blogposts introducing you to our favorite windsurf and wingfoil spots around New Zealand. Where to go, when to go, what skill set is required and what gear you will likely need. Some of those blogposts will be more of an overview of a general area; others will drill more into the details of specific windsurf spots or wingfoil locations. If you don’t want to miss any, keep checking our website or sign up for our newsletter. We will be linking to those blogposts in the newsletter.
Wavesailing in Taranaki Part 2: The Details
Wavesailing in Taranaki Part 1 was all about getting an overview of the area. This is Part 2 which will give you more details about the specific spots. We will cover the 4 main wavesailing spots in Taranaki, talking about what wind direction you will need to make them work, what tide is best, what experience is required and another tidbits to help you.
Located 15km North of New Plymouth, in the small town of Waitara, is the most popular wave-sailing spot in Taranaki which also offers the easiest conditions of the area. A long left-hander wraps around the corner and over an offshore reef, which is deep enough to sail across in most tides. A deep pool with flat water on the inside makes launching and landing easy and accessible even for wave novices. You can edge as close to the breaking waves as you like and feel comfortable with. This is a favourite Water Nomads Taranaki Surfari Trips location.
Best wind direction: The prevailing SW-wind (port-tack) is cross-shore. In summer when the wind is usually lighter, you can often get a nice sea breeze in the (late) afternoon. But be aware, the wind sometimes switches off or turns offshore with hardly any warning! It’s always good to keep an eye on the locals.
Best tide: Lower tide is usually better, as the waves break clean over the outside reef. At a high tide there is often a challenging shore-break and the waves on the reef (unless big) don’t break that well. Weld Rd could be a good alternative around high tide.
Beach: A mix of rocks and sand. Some years there are more rocks and some years there is more sand.
Rigging area: There is a large grass park area next to the car park.
Things to know: Water quality can be poor after heavy rain, this due to agricultural runoff via the Waitara River Mouth. You can view the latest info from Taranaki Regional Council.
Parking: Battiscombe Terrace carpark
Amenities: Waitara town has got a New World supermarket, cafes and restaurants. A campground is just downwind from the carpark. You could easily base yourself on the campground and launch directly from there. There is a toilet and cold outdoor shower at the carpark which is great for a rinse.
Crowdfactor: On a good day it can get busy on the water, generally between 5 and 10 is expected. Respect the give-way rules and you will have no problem.
Located 20km South of New Plymouth, just south of the small village of Oakura is Weld Road. It is also known as Ahus’ (Ahu Ahu Beach) as you can access from either road end, Weld Road or Ahu Ahu Road (which is the road just downwind / north of Weld Road). The easier launching spot is Weld Road, as there are fewer waves breaking close to the beach. This spot can be a good alternative to Waitara if the tides are too high for Waitara.
Best wind direction: SW-wind (port-tack).
Best tide: Most tides are ok, depending on changing sandbars. More boulders are exposed at lower tide and these can pop up and be the size of small cars so watch out for foils and fins if sailing an outgoing tide.
Beach: Round boulders in Weld Road, sand at Ahu Ahu Beach.
Rigging area: Plenty of grass at the carpark.
Things to know: The waves are less predictable than in Waitara. In big swells, large waves can suddenly break randomly far offshore where you were hoping to be safe.
Parking: At the end of Weld Road.
Amenities: Apart from public toilets, there is not much directly at the carpark. The village of Oakura just a few minutes up the road offers a supermarket and a good selection of cafes, restaurants and pub. The campground in Oakura is right at the water and you can find countless AirBnBs in the area. For a hostel with surfers vibe we recommend checking out The Wave Haven.
Crowdfactor: Hardly more than 5 people on the water.
Just North of Cape Egmont and 40km South of New Plymouth, you will find the legendary spot Pungarehu. World class super clean lefthanders offer countless turns down-the-line. The waves are rarely small here, and the reef can hold big swells. The waves are fast and powerful. This is not a spot for wavesailing novices. If you lose your gear in the wrong spot, you are in for a long swim and a punishing walk over the rocks. For any wave-sailor, once bitten by Pungarehu, you will be destined to return.
Best wind direction: SE-wind (port-tack). Wind is perfectly cross-off and often very light in the inside and strong outside.
Best tide: The lower tides are better, but you can sail in any tide. Finding the channel becomes tricky at higher tide as it is not that clearly visible.
Beach: Rocks, rocks and more rocks in various sizes, from head size to car size. Most people wear booties getting in and out.
Rigging area: Rig on the grass between the cars.
Things to know: Entry and exit can be tricky. Check the channel and remember your landmarks for the way back in. Make sure your timing going out is good and that you are able to float your board, as the wind can be very light inside.
Amenities: Nothing. No toilet, no shops, no accommodation. The Cape Egmont Boat Club at Bayly Road offers cheap basic camping and is only a few minutes up the road. The closest shop is in Okato, 15km towards New Plymouth.
Crowdfactor: Can get busy with locals when it’s good. Just remember good wave sailing educate and you’ll be fine.
Kina Road is the Southern most spot in Taranaki that get frequented regularly. It is 55km south of New Plymouth. The coast here is wide open and wild. Waves can get very big, though they tend to look smaller from the carpark as you look down at them. There are several breaks to sail in Kina Road: a beautiful A-frame wave at the South reef and several good breaks in the North. Take your pick!
Best wind direction: NNW-NW-wind (starboard-tack) or SE-wind (port-tack).
Best tide: All tides are ok. Can be a long and cruelling walk at low tide.
Beach: Round boulders, some of them slippery with algea.
Rigging: On the grassy area between the cars. Beware of the electric fence, carbon masts are good conductors!
Things to know: You are a long way from everything here, and the coastline is very rocky. Make sure you have a plan B if things go wrong.
Parking: Park along the road at the end of Kina Road
Amenities: Apart from a public toilet, there are no amenities on this spot. The next township with a shop is Opunake, some 10km further south.
Crowdfactor: There is usually plenty of space as there are several breaks you can sail in. Seeing 5 or so on the water is getting busy.
A trip to Taranaki is a must if you like waves. However, it is not for the faint hearted and you need some experience. Finding the best spot of the day requires a good eye on the forecast and conditions. You can be basking in sunshine on one spot with no wind while at the same time you can find 30 knots sideshore conditions half an hour down the coast. This mountain does some funky stuff to wind and weather, and you need to know how to read it if you don’t want to miss out.
Although the conditions are often worldclass, it is hardly crowded. As a visitor to the area, you might be more concerned about being on the water by yourself as it can be a bit intimidating. For an introduction to wavesailing in Taranaki, join our Taranaki Wave Classic Surfari in October. We take care of everything, introduce you to the various spots and some locals, help you with your gear selection and keep an eye on you while you are on the water. Can’t make that weekend? Talk to us about a Custom Surfari, rent the latest Starboard and Severne boards and rigs from us or just quiz us if you bring your own gear. We are happy to help!