Australia/New Zealand - Oct-Nov

Wannabee

Grom
Jun 12, 2019
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My wife and I are planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand and am planning on 5 weeks in each country. My game plan is to fly into the north east side of Australia and spend 5 weeks in a camper van working our way down the eastern coast. And from there, we're headed to New Zealand for another 5 weeks where we'll try to do the same. I'm reading and asking as much as I can but if you have any good surf / travel books that you would recommend, please let me know.

Thanks for your help!
 

potato-nator

Michael Peterson status
Nov 10, 2015
2,799
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so manyseaside "caravan" parks (campgrounds) and cheap too. a great trip. NSW is stuffed w/surfing beaches.
less surfspots in NZ but wonderful touristing in a beautiful country. an RV/camper is a great way to see it.
 

Wannabee

Grom
Jun 12, 2019
10
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Yeah, we're very excited. It's just such a massive country, it would be good to do as much research and get as many recommendations as possible.
 

jkb

Phil Edwards status
Feb 22, 2005
6,513
87
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Oceansuck
When in NZ, my recommendation is to pick one of the islands and tour the entire thing, rather than trying to do both islands in 5 weeks.

I recommend the South Island. Tons to see and 5 weeks would be perfect to see it all.
 

Iceman

Phil Edwards status
Apr 1, 2002
5,958
2
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NorCenCal
Download the Campermate app. Went to NZ for a month and used the app almost every day just to scope out sites on the fly, plus it gives you all the contact info so you can call ahead and make sure there is a spot available.
 

Wannabee

Grom
Jun 12, 2019
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That thought crossed my mind but not sure if we're going to have the cash to make that kind of purchase. And then buying a used car might be a crapshoot. I'll have to give that some thought. Thanks for the suggestion!

I'm surprised that I really haven't found any good surf travel books for the east coast from someone who has done what I want to do. Maybe I should take some notes on my trip!
 

freeride76

Nep status
Dec 31, 2009
780
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Lennox Head.
There were books written 30-40 years ago that still do the job just fine.
Mark Warren's Atlas of Aus surfing and Nat Young's guidebook are plenty good.


Not sure how much surfing you intend to do on this trip but Oct-Nov is by far the worst time of year for the East coast Australia.

It's highly likely you won't get go outs at the prime breaks, no matter how long you camp up there. They are likely to be flat and onshore, or if you do get a swell, onshore.
So you'll be pulling up to the some of the best waves in the world that will be onshore and flat and unrideable for weeks at a time.

The coastline south of Sydney is probably your best bet this time of year, few little coves and sneaky reefs that will make the best of it.

If you don't care about surfing the coastline will be nice and late spring is usually good weather, albeit windy. Water tends to be cold due to spring wind upwelling.

New Zealand is a better option as far as surfing goes, but if all you want to do is drive around and look at mountains it doesn't really matter what time of year you go.

If you are intending to drive around in a camper van please don't be an annoying Cnut on the road, pull over and let traffic go through if you are lollygagging.
 

dan2ft

Grom
Dec 1, 2018
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https://www.amazon.com/Zealand-Surfing-Guide-Peter-Morse/dp/0476009421

Good book for NZ
 

opunake

Grom
Nov 3, 2018
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Kia ora wannabe,

NZ is home for me, 40 years surfing most of it. Presumably you will hit NZ in November, which is spring time, and that means wind, and lots of it, predominantly from the nor west and sou west. Of course with wind at home, anything is possible! So for the north island that means east coast breaks will be lacking swell, as they require late summer east nor east swells. Gizzy and mahia will get some south swells, but the glamour waves are unlikely to be on - as a rule. So that leaves the NI west coast - tons of swell, typically 12 second period, but not often over 14, plus lots of short period swells, all from the south west. That means Ahipara, Raglan, Taranaki. And, the south coast of the NI, which has a great burst of south swell late October, early November, and certainly a road less travelled. The south island runs with a similar pattern - the west coats is WILD and cops the same sou west swell and wind pattern, plus rain, and well, more rain, especially in spring. The east - Kaikoura down to Christchurch, really needs east and nor east swells, which are more likely in late summer off cyclones, although big south swells can wrap in. Dunedin to Invercargill has a ton of south swell options, but the glamour breaks on the Otago peninsular also need swells off cyclones.

So 5 weeks, I guess you need to plan on which airport you fly into first, and where you depart from, and what temperature water you want to deal with after all that warm oz water! You also want to see if you can book your tickets within a week of departing oz, so you can make the call to start north, or south, depending on the weather, which changes all the time. My surf picks would be Dunedin / Otago - epic beachies, awesome town, lower numbers of van lifers, and lots of south swell, Taranaki, cause its home and it has a ton of wave options, and usually the van lifers stick in the same places cause they all use the same app, Ahipara because its warm, handles south west wind and its an easy drive to the east coast (but its a LONG drive from Auckland airport), and if the weather gods cooperate, the south coast of the NI. You gotta figure this one out yourself, but there are some gems to be had, and its easy driving from Wellington, which is an awesome city to hang out in.

But as I say, the weather changes - you might strike a big random east swell and get amazing waves at whangamata and other spots close by - anything is possible!


And please be careful in your van - visitors in vans are not loved by all (its the van accommodation with no self contained toilet that's the issue, not the people), especially when they park up in large numbers. Plan to stay in spots away from heaps of other vans. There are 50,000 tourists on an average day living in vans in the queenstown area alone - avoid!

Have an awesome trip!
 

Wannabee

Grom
Jun 12, 2019
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That's a lot of really good information! Thank you! We now have our tickets booked and I get that we're not going anywhere near prime time but this is the time that we can do it. Been on the bucket list for years. Since the wife isn't really a surfer and we're not going at a great time, I'm readjusting my expectations to enjoy the experience and if I'm lucky enough to score a few good sessions, I'll be happy. There isn't much about it that just doesn't sound amazing.

Haven't read as much on NZ yet but what I do know about it sounds killer. We have a good friend who lives there. We'll be spending some time with him in November and it sounds like he is gearing up to show us around as well.

Tips on travelling in the van are well taken and I'll do my best not to be the ugly tourist!
 

opunake

Grom
Nov 3, 2018
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To be clear the visitors are cool - its just the accommodation style! Hell there's plenty of kiwis in vans too, and often they are the ugly ones. Good things about November to add - schools not out yet, and its varsity exam time, and its not Christmas mayhem! That means lots of opportunities to surf uncrowded spots mid week!
 

Wannabee

Grom
Jun 12, 2019
10
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OK, so the next thing I'm trying to figure out are phones. In my current plan I can add an intl. package which allows me to call to AU but I can't call back to the US unless I have access to wifi. Someone suggested possibly buying a burner here and then activating it there? I'm hoping to have access to google maps and ideally have a hotspot. Any suggestions that have worked well for you?

Thanks
 

Iceman

Phil Edwards status
Apr 1, 2002
5,958
2
38
NorCenCal
The last time I was there I just bought a local sim card at the airport. The guy at the kiosk changes it out for you and you're good to go for the trip. Local number, local network access, and if you're going to be using it everyday, it beats paying the daily fee of your US carrier over the duration of the trip. Fee depends on how much data you want.
 

jkb

Phil Edwards status
Feb 22, 2005
6,513
87
48
Oceansuck
Burner phone, bro.

That way you can sell drugs on the side and pay for the entire trip.

Win win!