Thanks to its stunning natural coastline and big breaks, New Zealand is also one of the world’s best-surfing destinations.
We have researched and put together a guide to the best surf camps in New Zealand, looking at what each camp offers and where they are based.
Whether you’re an experienced surfer wanting to hone your skills, or a complete beginner wanting to stand on the board for the first time, there is a camp for you.
Raglan has some of the most consistent surf in New Zealand. With world-class breaks, it is a town that has quickly become a hot spot for beginner and expert surf enthusiasts.
The first surf camp on our list is based in Raglan so already you can expect to have an incredible time.
Raglan Surf School is located right in the heart of the Raglan surf scene, offering a huge variety of tailored lessons and surf camp packages. The beauty of this surf camp is in its ability to cater to every surfer’s needs.
The highly qualified surf instructors are more than happy to teach any level of surfer from small children to elderly individuals.
The surf school runs daily private, family, and group lessons that look at working with you depending on your skill level. If you are new to surfing they will start right at the beginning, taking you through water safety and land-based surfing before you then head out onto the water.
For more skilled surfers private lessons will be great for honing your skills and taking your surfing techniques to the next level.
Raglan Surf School also runs excellent surf camps for school children from around New Zealand. This gives children the opportunity to develop a love for surfing and start a lifelong journey, it’s a shame they don’t offer this for adults too.
- Range of lessons – The variety of lessons on offer at this surf camp gives you a great opportunity to find a lesson that suits you.
- High-quality surf instructors – The surf instructors at Raglan are highly qualified and super friendly.
- Excellent location – Raglan is one of the best surfing spots in New Zealand.
- No adult camps – The only thing the Raglan Surf School lacks is a surfing camp for adults.
If you’re looking for a surf camp that will fit in perfectly with your schedule while in New Zealand then Aotearoa Surf School could be a great option.
Based in Te Arai, just 1.5 hours away from Auckland, this surf school offers great flexibility with its lessons thanks to its mobility.
Aotearoa Surf School provides mobile surf lessons to tourists and locals.
This is great for you because it means you’ll always have the chance to surf in the best conditions. Alternatively, if you don’t want to travel you can simply stay at the beach the surf school is based at which is one of the best on the east coast.
Surfing lessons are delivered by fun and friendly expert instructors who will work with you to get you up and running.
For more experienced surfers don’t worry the coaches will also be able to tailor your lessons to exceed your expectations. With this surf school, you can book anything from a one two hour lesson to a ten lesson package.
This is great if you want to immerse yourself in a full surfing holiday, making new friends whilst developing your skills.
To ensure they cater to everyone’s needs Aotearoa delivers their lessons on a 1-1 basis, in groups or in private groups. This allows families to book lessons on their own.
A nice touch from Aotearoa is the women’s wellness weekends. This weekend camp is designed to give women the chance to surf in an all-female environment with people they share similar interests with.
- Great packages – You can book up to ten lessons with this school.
- Equipment included – All the necessary surfing equipment is included.
- Programs for everyone – There is something for everyone here.
- No overnight camps – You can’t take part in an overnight surfing camp with this school.
Based in Whangamata the Surf N Stay surfing camp is perfect for anybody who has dreamt of taking part in a surfers lifestyle holiday.
This awesome surfing camp has designed one-of-a-kind packages that combine surfing, yoga, and accommodation to ensure you have the best time possible while in New Zealand.
Each surfing package is specifically tailored to suit your level making it a great choice for beginner and advanced surfers.
Available to all, the Surf N Yoga package is the most popular camp they deliver. It is perfect for families, couples, or single individuals.
If you choose this package you can expect two nights in beautiful private accommodation, two daily group surfing lessons, two yoga classes, and unlimited use of all the equipment during your stay.
If you’re interested in seeing more of New Zealand during your stay the instructors will also take you on a tour of the island. Whangamata isn’t just a surfers haven. There is also a lot of wonderful scenery on the island that you don’t want to miss.
- Overnight stay – You can stay at this surfing school.
- Additional activities – The addition of tours and yoga lessons add extra value to your holiday.
- Beautiful accommodation – You get the opportunity to stay in a gorgeous property in a great location.
- A longer stay would be nice – Currently, you can only stay for two nights.
The NZ Surf Academy provides surf schools and camps primarily aimed at children from primary and secondary schools. Alongside these camps, they also offer daily surfing lessons to adults, suitable for both beginner and advanced surfers.
The surfing camps with the NZ Surf Academy are available to both domestic and international students. Included in each camp is a fun-filled 5-night stay, 2 surfing lessons a day, full use of all the equipment, transportation, and food.
The camps are a great way for your child to make new friends, learn more about surfing, and explore New Zealand.
As well as surfing the academy takes guests on tours of the Northland beaches which are not only great surfing locations but also incredible sightseeing spots.
As if that wasn’t enough, more fun activities such as volleyball, sand-boarding, yoga, and hot pools are also on offer.
For adults looking to learn the basics of surfing or improve their technique, daily surfing lessons are available.
Private, group, family, and day-long surf lessons are run by friendly coaches who pride themselves on improving your surfing in a safe, positive environment that you will enjoy.
They encourage new surfers to get up on the board for the first time and work with advanced individuals to work on more advanced maneuvers.
- Fantastic children’s camps – This surf camp is a great choice for your child.
- Positive environment – Learn in a fun, friendly environment that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
- Day camps – Day-long surfing camps are a good alternative for adults.
- Not as many options for adults – This camp doesn’t have as many options for adults as other surf schools.
The last surf camp on our list is the wonderful Catlins Surf. Situated on the beautifully scenic Curio Bay, this surf camp is the perfect place if you’re looking for a quieter surfing spot and somewhere nice to stay.
Curio Bay has an awesome break that suits both beginners and experienced surfers. Unlike other destinations on our list, it is surprisingly quiet though. Though the waves are great many choose to surf elsewhere.
This is great for us though. It leaves us with the chance to surf in a more relaxed environment where we don’t need to compete to catch a wave.
Catlins Surf uses experienced surf instructors who have a strong passion for surfing to deliver their lessons. The instructors aim to create a long-lasting love for surfing by sharing their love for the adventure sport.
Take part in daily lessons before settling down for the night in the amazing accommodation which includes the quirky Gypsy Wagon.
You can quite easily spend 3 or 4 days at this surf school, developing your surfing ability, relaxing in a tranquil bay, and also experiencing some amazing wildlife.
Curio Bay has an abundance of wildlife such as penguins, dolphins, and New Zealand sea lions so keep your eyes peeled.
- Less popular destination – This surf spot is a lot quieter than the more popular destinations.
- Accommodation available – Catlins Surf has two brilliant accommodation options on sight.
- Equipment available – Don’t worry if you don’t have any surfing equipment. The surf school will provide it for you.
- Out the way – It will take quite a bit of traveling to get to Catlins Surf. We must say it is worth it though.
Here are some of the key things to consider when choosing a surf camp.
Some surf camps only offer daily lessons, whilst others offer extensive camps lasting 3 or 4 days.
It is important to choose a camp that fits into your schedule. Strongly consider how many lessons you want and if you want to stay over at the surf school you choose.
If you want a full surfing holiday then clearly you will want to book an overnight camp. If you want a quick surfing lesson then you need to choose one that offers single lessons.
Type of Package You Want
You need to consider the type of surfing package you are after before booking a surf camp. Surf camps offer a variety of different packages. Some offer packages including tours, and other activities such as yoga and paddleboarding.
Other camps simply offer surfing lessons. If you simply want to surf it makes no sense to book a camp that includes tours and other activities. Alternatively, if you want to try and see other things consider booking a more action-packed surf camp.
Your perception of your own surfing ability can greatly impact your experience. If you think you are more experienced than you actually are, you might encounter some issues during your lesson.
Most surfing camps consider an experienced surfer to be someone with at least 5 years of surfing experience. Bear this in mind when discussing which lesson suits you with the surf camp.
If you don’t have your own surfing equipment you will need to use the surf camps every time you go out to surf. As a result of this it is important you find a camp that provides equipment for their lessons.
Most camps include the use of equipment for every lesson, the cost of which is included in the overall price. However, some surf schools make you pay extra for equipment hire on top of the lesson cost.
To avoid this look for a surf camp that includes the use of the board etc in their lessons. Some even let you use the equipment outside of your lesson.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Surf Camp Worth It?
Yes, surf camps are totally worth it because of what you get out of them. Surf camps are run by experienced surfing instructors who know what they are doing.
Their expertise and knowledge of the sport give you the chance to dramatically improve your surfing ability in a safe and fun environment. On top of that most surf camps deliver entertaining additional activities and tours.
It is the tours that give you a good opportunity to see parts of New Zealand you may otherwise not have seen. Surf camps are also a great way to meet new people who share your interests.
Can You Surf In New Zealand All Year?
You can surf in New Zealand all year round but you might find it cold in winter. In fact, you can actually surf and snowboard at the same time.
The summer months in December through to March bring the nicest, warmest conditions to surf. The bitter winter’s surf can be super enjoyable but in all honesty, it does take truly hard-core Kiwis to give it a go.
How Big Are The Waves In New Zealand?
Waves in New Zealand like in most surfing destinations vary a lot. On a typical day, you can expect to experience waves approximately 3m in height, but it isn’t uncommon for waves to occasionally reach 10m.
On the North Island waves tend to average roughly 2m in height on the west coast and 1m on the east coast. Despite these estimations, it is worth noting that breaks change hourly so when planning to surf check online to find the best destination that day.
New Zealand is full of wonderful surfing destinations and surf camps, all offering something different. Most schools cater to the ability of every surfer so that everybody gets the chance to have fun and learn.
Some schools offer lessons on a one-to-one basis while others offer group lessons focused on not only surfing but also building new relationships.
It doesn’t matter if you are in New Zealand for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, there is a surfing camp out there for you. Some camps provide overnight stays that explore New Zealand too whilst others give you the chance to book lessons individually, helping you plan your surfing around your holiday schedule.
We have done the research for you so now it’s over to you. With our list narrow down the options further to pick the best surfing camp that suits what you are looking for. We know you will be happy with whichever camp you choose.