It can be quite overwhelming and look complicated indeed, but with a little knowledge under you belt, you’ll be able to pick your days quite easily!
🌊 SWELL SIZE (feet or meters)
- Generally speaking the perfect size for beginners is 1 to 2ft.
- For intermediates: 2-4ft waves are best as it gives you more face of the wave to progress your skills on.
- You should keep an eye on the ‘Swell Period’, because it’s a lot more indicative of the actual wave size (see the next point).
Te Arai Swell Size: you need waves, but not as big as other beaches. 1ft or even 0.3-0.5m is plenty for beginners.
Side note: a 2ft wave, whilst looks and sounds small, is measured from the back of a wave and when you are actually in the surf, can seem quite big and intimidating!
🌊 WIND DIRECTION (degrees, letters or arrows)
- The perfect wind is no wind.
- The second perfect wind is offshore: offshore = blowing from the beach to the sea.
- These provide cleaner, more rideable waves.
- A low onshore wave is even ideal for a beginner as it will crumble (create white wash) and much easier to get onto.
- Low winds are okay.
If it’s blowing from left or right (cross shore) go against the wind and find a sheltered spot.
The wind direction on the charts refers to the direction the wind is coming from, not going to.
Te Arai Wind: No wind is ideal, on the East Coast the perfect offshore is a W, SW and even a S (as the point protects it) wind. NW = The wind is blowing from the NW (cross shore) is not great
🌊 SWELL PERIOD (seconds)
- This is the time in seconds between each wave.
- Short period (4 to 10 sec) – small waves with less energy.
- Long period (10 to 25 sec.) – bigger, well organised waves with more energy.
Te Arai Swell Period: with regards to Te Arai, where there is a lot of time generally it is cleaner surf, when a short amount of time, the water is more of a washing machine. Over 7 is good, under 5 is poor, over 10+ is amazing, 18+ probably too big for a beginner.
🌊 WIND SPEED (kph, mph, knots)
- You want light winds. Anything from 0 to 10kph is ideal.
- No wind to very light wind means it doesn’t matter as much on the wind direction
- Note: 1knot – 1.8kmh.
Te Arai Wind Speed: Low to no winds is ideal 0 – 10kph.
🌊 TIDE (measured vertically)
- Every break has its favoured tides.
- As you get to know a beach and its sandbanks you will come to understand how tides play a big part – for now a good rule of thumb is not right on the low tide.
- When you find yourself in conditions you like and you’ve had a good session, go to the weather forecast app of your choice (we recommend Marine Weather), examine and try to remember the exact values retrospectively.
Te Arai Tide: An ideal tide for Te Arai is mid – high for beginners. A high tide means fatter, slower, more easily rideable waves but sometimes right on high can mean that they are too difficult to catch.
🌊 SWELL DIRECTION (degrees, letters or arrows)
- The direction from which the swell is coming can be expressed in degrees or cardinal points.
- As a general rule of thumb, a coastline facing west will get bigger waves if the swell comes from W, instead of NNW. That’s why the angle of a swell is so important.
Te Arai Swell Direction: Te Arai receives distant groundswells and the ideal swell angle or direction is NE. As a beginner this is not something vital to look at.
🌊 SAND BANKS
- Sand banks are important to keep an eye on as your surfing progresses.
- When the waves are breaking from either the right to the left, or left to right in a slow, clean manner, (as opposed to dumping / breaking all the way along the wave at once) this means a good build up of sand under the water or a good ‘bank’.
- Sand banks are moving and changing constantly, sometimes staying for months on end, other times lasting only a day or two, depending on the weather and tides.
Te Arai Banks: Te Arai’s beach break provides left and right handers. Look for an a-frame shape that peels either to the left or to the right.
A few last tips I found useful:
- A left hand wave is a wave peeling to the right when you are looking at it from the beach
- A right hand wave is a wave peeling to the left when you are looking at it from the beach
- Left hand waves are easier to surf for ‘natural’ footers (right foot at the back of the board)
- Right hand waves are easier to surf for ‘goofy’ footers (left foot at the back of the board)
- The above point is because you have your stomach facing toward the wave as you ride along the face, giving you more control of the board.
& MOST IMPORTANTLY – relax, smile and always have fun!
Te Arai Summary:
Te Arai has some of the most clean, consistent waves on Auckland’s East Coast (rideable swell with light / offshore winds).
The best conditions reported for surf at Te Arai Point occur when a Northeast swell combines with an offshore wind direction from the West-southwest or no to very low winds from any direction.
For now use Marine Weather (its handy, all in the one spot graphically for up to 8 days ahead).