Surf travellers looking for the ideal beach to ride fabulous waves often head for the Bay of Plenty.
This broad bountiful bay was well named by its discoverer Captain Cook. When the big swells are running there are good waves at many surf hot spots along the bay from Matakana Island to the Motu River mouth.
Mt Maunganui (19 km east of Tauranga) is the big drawcard. This glorious beach is the perfect holiday venue with its golden sands and doozy waves in a north or north-east swell. ‘The Mount’ is New Zealand’s answer to Queensland’s Gold Coast and the first view of this beach gives good vibes. You’ll really be amped when you catch a good clean reef break off either end of the bay. A good wave from ‘The Blowhole’ on the south headland can carry you several hundred metres in to the surf club.
‘The Mount’ was in the forefront of New Zealand’s surfing boom, being the third Surfboard Riders Club to be formed after Takapuna and Raglan. Ocean Beach over the southern headland, extends to Papamoa and offers a series of good beach breaks, which can be accessed via footpaths off the main coastal road.
Across the Tauranga harbour entrance from ‘The Mount’ is the long exposed shoreline of Matakana Island. A powerful north-easterly swell on a high tide produces great tube rides and the waves here tend to be bigger and more hollow than those at ‘The Mount’. You need to hire a boat to gain access to the island.
Whakatane Heads (2 kms from Whakatane) has a consistent bar break on the northern side of the Whakatane River bar. The best conditions are a 1-2 metre swell from the north. You need to paddle across the river to get to the north side of the bar. Ohope Beach (6 kms east of Whakatane) is a popular holiday resort where northerly swells can form fast waves breaking on a shallow shoreline.
Maketu (16 kms east of Te Puke) has a right-hand bar break on the west side of the Maketu Point. Newdick’s Beach on the east side can deliver very good beach breaks in an east or north-east swell.