For quite a few years now my mates and I have been talking about doing a surf road trip in a campervan down the West Coast of New Zealand and this year we finally got around to doing it. We started the trip in Auckland and made our way down to New Plymouth over a week and it was awesome! If I had my way, this would become an annual trip – I reckon Australia might be on the cards next.
Our first stop was Piha Beach, about a 45-minute drive out of Auckland. After picking up the campervans and loading them up with all our gear, we headed for the coast. For being close to a city the waves at Piha aren’t too crowded and it's a cool little, laid-back place.
The water was a bit chilly, so depending on what time of year you’re there you’d probably want a decent wetsuit. After a brew in the back of the camper and a stop at the Piha store for one of their legendary pies, we headed south to Raglan.
We got to Raglan late afternoon, it's about a 2 hour drive from Auckland. On our first night, we stayed at the Raglan Kopua Holiday Park. We parked the van up and spent the night sitting around singing along to my mate’s guitar.
We got up first thing and headed out for a surf at Ngarunui Beach, about 5km west of town. We were pretty excited, Raglan’s waves are known worldwide for being some of the best. Ngarunui Beach is better for people who aren’t too serious but if you’re a dedicated surfer Manu Bay and Whale Bay would be where you’d want to head.
Once we got back onshore, we cooked up a mean breakfast, you know life's good when you’re sitting outside your camper with a nice bit of bacon and eggs, bright and early after a morning surf.
Raglan is a funky little town - if you get the chance, the Shack is an awesome place for good coffee & food and a good place to chat with locals. If you head around to Whale Bay, there are some good places to pull over and take some nice photos on top of the cliff overlooking the ocean.
Over the next few days, we made our way down the coast stopping at places where locals had told us there were some good waves. Because there are so many ‘little known’ breaks down the coast, it's best to talk to the locals who, if you get them on a good day - will let you in on where the best spots are. They’ll generally be able to point you in the right direction for the best fish and chips in town too. Our days pretty much comprised of getting up, surfing, eating a cooked breakfast (yup, every day – why not we’re on holiday) surfing, driving, eating some more, surfing, singing the nights away, and generally exaggerating how awesome we were out in the water.
Our last stop was Oakura Beach which is about 15 minutes from New Plymouth, we stayed at the Oakura Beach Holiday Park. Our site was right on the beach, it was so nice waking up in the morning and looking out at the ocean from the cosiness of my sleeping bag before venturing out for a wave. They have quite a few surf comps here so if you’re planning on heading this way it might be good to check if there is anything on.
Overall, I would totally recommend doing a campervan road trip like this, you get to meet some awesome people along the way, and quite often it's just you and your mates out in the surf in the middle of nowhere at a beautiful beach. Doing a road trip in a campervan was awesome, it made it so much easier having your accommodation sorted, and it's heaps cheaper and easier being able to cook your own food. We did our trip in the Double Up which sleeps 4 people, it suited us perfectly because it had a toilet and shower, space to store the boards and you can hang your wettie in the shower cubicle.