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Auckland surf & snorkel where to go

  • 3 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

Locations, in and on the water in Auckland

Discover Auckland, city of sails, surrounded by water. Surfing, snorkelling and swimming are great year round activities in the temperate subtropical climate.


Mangawhai Heads  – surf & paddle

107 km Auckland to Mangawhai

Mangawhai Heads offers visitors the opportunity to experience a well known west coast surf beach or paddle in a safe estuary. The famous local landmark, Sentinel Point is an easy clifftop climb to check out the surf beach and the estuary.

Omaha beach, Auckland, New Zealand
Omaha beach, Auckland, NZ

Omaha Beach – surf the Omaha bar

Omaha beach is a great family option when not everyone wants to go surfing. Located in the heart of the Matakana coast, wineries, golf, walks, a conservation reserve and markets offer plenty of choice for families and visitors. Omaha Beach is the perfect location to immerse yourself in the surf and offers excellent conditions to learn to surf or improve your skills, with something to offer for every surfing ability. At Omaha’s northern end resides the region’s most legendary surf break, the “Omaha Bar”. Just past the Bar is the entrance to the Whangateau Harbour, and the home of Omaha conservation reserve sand spit.

Te Arai – surf or snorkel a Marine Reserve

Te Arai, Tawharanui Peninsula, there are several spots to choose from for both right and left-handers. The local surf school is very popular; introducing visitors to both right and left handers. Check out and grab a lesson with the team with Aotearoa Surf School are the sole operator at Te Arai and cater to all ages and stages of surfers and even offer accommodation on site for those wanting to get away for the weekend and learn to surf. Tawharanui Regional Park – Best Bits has a marine reserve for snorkelling for those not inclined to surf. The location is south of Omaha on the Tawharanui Peninsula.


Tawharanui is the only example of New Zealand mainland pest free sanctuary and a marine reserve joined together.

Whangateau Harbour – snorkel an estuary

A quiet backwater with clear estuary water, filtered by the flourishing cockle community. Whangateau Harbour’s fully protected waters provide perfect snorkelling conditions, allowing snorkelers to witness the unique marine life associated with tidal estuaries and mature mangrove forests.

Goat Island Marine Reserve – snorkeling – top pick

Goat Island is New Zealand’s oldest and best known marine reserve. A gem of a location with Matakana shops, weekend markets and Leigh nearby. Goat Island is part of an Auckland east to west road trip. Snorkel with a local expertise to maximise your day out in the water. A great place to start is with Beginner Guided Snorkel Tours.

Piha & Auckland West Coast beaches – surfing hall of fame

Where you can surf on the West Coast Beaches:

  • Surf at Anawhata; it is a hike to the remote surf beach
  • Karekare is remote however to the site of an award winning film, The Piano and has a devoted surfing following. There is only a beach patrol at the weekend summer season, care is needed. Check out Karekare, Waitākere Ranges Regional Park.
  • Long Bay is popular when it has an easterly swell. Check out Long Bay Regional Park
  • Muriwai is popular for locals windsurfing above the gannet colony
  • Te Henga – Bethells beach is another favourite spot, check out Te Henga, Waitākere Ranges Regional Park
  • Piha, the classic location of a TV surf series. There are two well known surf schools, – Piha Surf Academy and Piha Surf School – and numerous fit, adventurous lifeguards at the ready. Piha is Auckland’s showcase when it comes to learning to surf. It is the most famous of Auckland’s beaches, and offers a good left-hander. This stretch of Wild West coast can be wild, so make sure you know your skill level before hitting the big waves.
Surfer standing at Piha Beach, New Zealand
Surfer standing at Piha Beach, Auckland, NZ
Little blue penguin, Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand
Little blue penguin, Hauraki Gulf, NZ

Rakino Island, Rotoroa Island, Hauraki Gulf – snorkel

Jump on board a ferry and spend the day swimming and snorkelling. Hauraki Gulf Islands. Favourite places to visit are Rakino Island, Rotoroa Island for snorkelling. You will need your own gear since there are no shops on the islands.

Raglan – Waikato

Raglan in the Waikato being a two hour drive from Auckland is serious competition in the weekend stakes for Auckland and elsewhere visitors. The Raglan Surf school is the master of New Zealand’s longest point break. The surf school’s three-hour beginner’s package starts with a theory lesson in their surf shed classroom. Not feeling the group instruction vibes? You can hire your own surf instructor to take you through your paces in a less… public way.

Travel pack information

Auckland region average seawater temperature

The warmest water temperature is in February with an average around 70.2°F / 21.2°C. The coldest month is August with an average water temperature of 58.3°F / 14.6°C from Auckland Water Temperature.

Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture NZ
Raglan, NZ

What to wear in the water in Auckland

Wetsuits even in summer offering protection from the cool seawater and underwater rocks.

Getting around and about surf beaches

Either rental / hire vehicles or guided tours with pick up and drop off services. Local public transport to surf beaches is occasional. For visitors who do not have access to a vehicle, Managawhai Heads with its beach camping grounds is a good place to start.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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