The coastal road between New Plymouth and Hawera is known as the Surf Highway, though to be realistic, the road mostly passes through green Taranaki farmland. To see the actual surf generally involves short detours, albeit attractive ones, a kilometer or so down side roads. Nevertheless, it is a pleasant rural journey. Note the little grassy mounds scattered across the farmland, the result of volcanic debris avalanches pouring from Mt. Taranaki. Oakura, a village 17 km (10 miles) southwest of New Plymouth, has good surf as well as cafés and crafts shops. Its environmental efforts have been recognized by the international Blue Flag program, dedicated to developing sustainable beaches and marinas. Closer to New Plymouth, Fitzroy, East End, Back, and Bell Block beaches are all popular with surfers. Opunake, in South Taranaki, has an artificial surf reef.
Beach Street Surf Shop. Local legend Wayne Arthur will give you the lowdown on the hot surf spots in Taranaki. The shop rents equipment and organizes lessons for beginners and advanced surfers. 39 Beach St., Fitzroy Beach., New Plymouth, Taranaki, 4312. 06/758–0400. www.taranakisurf.com.
Vertigo Surf. At Oakura surfing village, this is the spot for the latest in surfing gear and advice on local conditions. A webcam shows what the Oakura Beach surf is doing at that moment. 605 Surf Hwy. 45, Oakura, Taranaki, 4314. 06/752–7363.