The colourful ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch offers pleasant suburban surfing beaches among its varied attractions.
New Brighton’s broad golden sands shift frequently at the whim of the sea and push up nice wave peaks in a 1.5 metre easterly swell. The other well-known surfing spot, Sumner, has a popular bar break, which peels nicely on an incoming tide backed by an easterly swell. Taylor’s Mistake has been a local surfing legend since the 1960’s, and can be found just around the headland from Sumner. It is deservedly popular as the beach breaks often push up solid peaks and tubes, which are a joy to ride.
Drive out to the rugged, shingle beaches of Bank’s Peninsula and you can really get amongst big breakers. A compact group of surf bays can be found on the exposed outer coast. Look for Stony, Hickery and Gough Bays and try out their beach breaks. You can then drive back to Little River and head down to Te Oka and Magnet Bays. Low tide is the best time to ride their beach and point breaks. You won’t find the summer crowds here, but you will discover the best powerhouse breaks and fast hollow rollers on this coast.
Down the South Canterbury coast around Timaru and Oamaru there is a surf supermarket of virtually untouched breaks, just waiting to caress your board. Almost every river mouth produces surf breaks, but the best locations are in the first 5 kms south of Timaru and between Oamaru and Moeraki. Patiti Point, near Timaru city, has a left-hand reef break, which operates very consistently in any swell from the east or south. Jack’s Point (3 kms south of Timaru) has both left and right-hand reef breaks at high tide, as does Lighthouse Reef, a short walk to the south. Southerly swells produce super-heavyweight monster breakers along the Timaru coast, which are only suitable for top-gun surfers.
From Oamaru south look out for less destructive but still heavy rollers at Kakanui River Mouth, Campbells Bay and Moeraki. At Moeraki you can also marvel at the fantastic natural spheres scattered along the beach. These are a famous geological phenomenon.