Surf charts 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. Understanding surf charts + understanding your experience level is a must!
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 surf 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 Good Surf Now!), 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
(its handy, all in the one spot graphically for up to 8 days ahead)
Or alternatively head to our website and contact us OR call us on 09 431 5760 for help with the surf charts in our local area we are keen to get you surfing! Alternatively book into one of our many programs and lessons and we can give you some real life experience learning about how to read waves!