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Hang 10 in the Land of the First Light

Tairāwhiti is a top destination for surfers from around the world. A strong swell, consistent winds and wide-open beaches all line up to create some of New Zealand’s best breaks. Winding your way along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll find secluded, breathtaking beaches around every bend so make sure you have your board handy to catch some unforgettable waves in the Land of the First Light. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or pro surfer, here’s a few of our favourite places to ‘hang ten’.


Waikanae/Roberts Road

Safe shallow beach often with small waves good for learners. Waikanae Surf Club if you want to swim between the flags. It’s right along the new boardwalk — Oneroa Beachfront Cycle and Walkway. There are free BBQs there to use and the Olympic pools, with showers to boot . . . so you can spend the entire day there with some good facilities nearby.

Makorori Northerns

The northern part of Makorori by the houses is a good spot when there is a north-east sea breeze, so it’s perfect for summer afternoons. With softer and smaller swells, this is ideal for beginners and kids. There’s ample parking and a great area for a picnic or a snooze under a tree.


Midway Pipe

A sandy beach break with heaps of parking. Midway has waves most of the year with one main peak both left and right. It’s in the middle of Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay with great views of Young Nick’s Head. Planes fly over this beach en route to the airport so you might catch a glimpse if you fly in to Gizzy.

Makorori Beach

Untouched, picturesque and a wicked spot to watch the sunrise while you are out there catching some waves. There’s overnight campervan parking available too. The southern part of the beach gets plenty of surf and has some of the most consistent surf in Gisborne. Keep a look out for visiting seals in the winter months.

Wainui Beach

Consistent waves you can count on throughout the year. Good variety of beach breaks, both left and right, and just beautiful barrels. Ground swells are more common here than wind swells. This ride can be quite heavy and dumpy so you could end up slammed into the sand if you get too near the shore. Lots of good places to access the beach so you can find yourself the perfect spot.


Wainui Beach

World-class beach break, with sandy beach breaks and several peaks down the beach. From barrels to hollows, waves come in fast and powerful here. Wainui can be a tough paddle when it’s big and packs a bit of power compared to other breaks.

Black’s Beach

Black’s Beach on the Mahia Peninsula delivers super consistent right hand reef breaks onto a stunning black sand beach. Waves crank here at least twice a week and are best at low tide in a southerly swell. Just keep a watch-out for the shallow reefs here.

The Island

A secret spot and a bit of local knowledge. Make friends with locals and see if they will share some tales about The Island with you. Really for advanced surfers only, since it can take between 15-30 minutes to paddle to The Island on a shortboard — depending on weather conditions and your fitness levels.

Top tips

• Watch out for the summer sea breeze so get out there early

• Breaks all have great potential so the trick is to find the right spot for the tides and swell

• The water can be cold in Gisborne so even in summer, a wetsuit is good

• Never drop in or snake

• Never surf between the flags at a patrolled part of the beach

• Never surf in the competition zone if there is a surf event on

• Paddle to the inside if someone is on a wave when you’re paddling out so you don’t get in their way

• Only go out in spots that are appropriate for your ability

• Have fun, stay safe and don’t take yourself too seriously.

— Courtesy of Tairawhiti Gisborne

Off for a sunrise surf at Midway Beach.Picture by Brook Sabin/Tairawhiti Gisborne
A lone surfer at Makorori Beach.New Zealand Herald picture
Waikanae Beach is good for learners. Gisborne Herald file picture
Midway Pipe is ideal for intermediate surfers.Gisborne Herald file picture
Black’s Beach, Mahia, is pro surfer territory.Gisborne Herald file picture