Taranaki - The Surf Highway

May 30, 2016

This article was first published in Issue #24 of CURL mag in 2010.

Photos by Rob Tucker



Taranaki used to be a relatively unknown part of New Zealand, famous mainly for its majestic Mt Taranaki and rugged coastline. However, over the past few years Taranaki seems to have come of age. In 2003 Tom Cruise’s epic movie “The Last Samurai” was filmed there, drawing the worlds attention to what had been a somewhat remote part of New Zealand. More recently the rise to international success of local surfer, Paige Hareb, has once again put the focus back on Taranaki. 




Taranaki is an area shaped by volcanic activity, creating the distinctive volcanic peak of Mt Taranaki, surrounded by lush green pastureland. The area is an outdoor paradise of great diversity; where you can snow ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon. Taranaki boasts magnificent scenery, including the spectacular national park, marine reserves, lakes and coastline. 


Despite its obscurity, Taranaki is a well known destination for the serious surfer. With its semi circular coastline it contains more surf breaks per kilometre than anywhere else in the country. The Surf Highway 45 follows the coast for over 100km, allowing easy access to a huge variety of breaks. With the shape of the coast it is exposed to more than 180 degrees of swell aperture providing a swell somewhere almost every day of the year. Surprisingly (although maybe due to the cold water and at times persistent onshores) the surf population is still relatively small (by international standards).


In April, 2010, Taranaki will host the Taranaki Women’s Surf Festival and the ASP World Tour.  The best surfers in the world will hit the waves of Taranaki between April 11th and 16th. This will also give local girl, Paige Hareb the chance to shine in her own back yard. “I know a lot of the girls have never been to New Zealand before and have wanted to come here for a long time. The surf can be quite good around that time of the year so I can’t wait to show the girls what my coast has to offer. It’s going to be pretty exciting!”

This will be an historic event for both Taranaki and New Zealand, as this will be the first ever World Tour event to be held in New Zealand. 

We caught up with Taranaki local, Paige Hareb to see what it is that makes New Plymouth such a great venue.

You grew up in Oakura, Taranaki. Can you describe your home break for us?  

It’s pretty amazing there, I have the ocean on my front doorstep and the mountain in my backyard, surfing with a mountain in view with snow on is pretty surreal. There’s lots of lush green farms all along the coast with, yes you guessed it, my mates... cows and sheep! I have too many favourite breaks to describe but most of them are rock bottom point breaks. Super rippable and fun when they’re on!

What makes Taranaki such a great destination for the ASP World Tour? 

It’s quite different to anywhere else where the tour goes. Hardly any of the girls have ever been to my home town let alone New Zealand so it’s going to be exciting for everyone no matter what. 

What’s some other great things about Taranaki?

The people are really friendly and supportive, there’s a cool coastal walkway, the wind wand? Haha, Patea dam dropping and whip-ins on my jet ski!

Anything else you want to say to give Taranaki a boost?

New Plymouth is Taranaki’s main city/town and a little while ago it won the best city/town in New Zealand so I’ll claim that! Ha ha. 

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