This is the first 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 1: Overview
When you say “Wavesailing in New Zealand”, you gotta say as well “Taranaki”. The Region of Taranaki is considered New Zealands wavesailing paradise. It is located on the west coast of the North Island, about half way between Auckland and Wellington. The exposed 270 degree coastline that projects into the Tasman Sea produces many excellent surfing and windsurfing locations, some of them considered world-class. Its namesake Mount Taranaki, the main geographical feature, funnels the wind and produces some great local thermals and weather patterns.
Main wavesailing spots:
There are plenty of great windsurfing spots on SurfHighway 45 along the Taranaki coastline. The main locations are:
Waitara (SW-wind, port tack)
Weld Road (SW-wind, port tack)
Pungarehu (SE-wind, port tack)
Kina Road ( NW-wind, starboard tack)
These places cover the most common wind directions. I will get into more detail for each of those locations in one of the next articles.
The water temperature in Taranaki ranges from 13 degrees in August / September to low 20’s degrees in February. This means you can enjoy watersports all year round, though conditions can get pretty rough and squally in winter. Best season for windsurfing / winging is October – March, surfing is ok all year round with a good wetsuit. Pick your days. In winter a really good 4/3 wetsuit is ok, in summer a 3/2 or on some days you might even be able to go out in boardshorts.
Most of the Taranaki coastline is fairly rocky, which produces excellent reef breaks and point breaks. Though it can make life a bit hard on fins, foils and feet. Unless you have fairly tough feet, booties are recommended to get in and out of the water. Some of the locals stash them in a bum bag once they are out on the water. It pays to check the spot at low tide to figure out where the rocks are (there are usually plenty) and how to avoid them.
Required skill set:
As the Taranaki coastline is very exposed, remote and with hardly any sheltered bay, you need to be a confident windsurfer or wingfoiler to enjoy the conditions. Some spots are more forgiving than others. As a rule of thumb: South of New Plymouth requires usually more experience, whereas Waitara or the beach breaks in New Plymouth are a bit easier.
Windsurfing experienced, Wingfoiling experienced, Surfing all levels (depending on the spot), kitesurfing very experienced.
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!