Stab Magazine | Five Reasons Why New Zealand In Autumn Is A Desirable Experience

Five Reasons Why New Zealand In Autumn Is A Desirable Experience

A convincing photographic argument from Kiwi lensman, Rambo Estrada.

full frame // May 29, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

From Cape Reinga to the Catlins, New Zealand is a country of coastline – 1500 Kilometres of it, to be precise. Coupled with a broad spectrum of waves and a quiet surfing populace, a tour of the nation is something every wave rider should undertake before the bucket is kicked.

New Zealand’s known to get wet. Like real wet. The weather is as bipolar as it gets (see: fickle), with wind and swell capable of flipping 180 degrees at the drop of a hat. Although those who see a half full glass, see the opportunity here. Especially when the opposing coastline is accessible in a half day’s drive.

Watching charts and Stab’s social feeds over the past handful of months, it’s been blaringly obvious that New Zealand’s had its fair share of swell. After noticing a lively blob recently bump past Australia’s window, we decided to investigate further.

Rambo Estrada is our go-to Kiwi lensman. We’ve run countless frames from his exploits in the land of the Long White Cloud, even having him host us and run point on a Stab Concept Shoot with Ethan Ewing around a year ago.

We dropped Rambo a line, with a simple request: Show us why Autumn in New Zealand is so special. He packaged up a handful of world class imagery from the past few months accompanied by verbal support and fired back.

Slide down and allow a moment for his convincing argument:

rambo estrada new zealand surf autumn 2018 0150

Behold the many shades of Kiwi green.


Towards the tail end of Summer, the southern hemisphere’s weather patterns shift. Intermittent tropical lows dissipate in regularity, replaced by more classic winter systems spinning off Antarctica whipping up cold winds and long period south swell. It’s cold but not deathly cold… yet.

“During Autumn the weather in New Zealand is generally pretty settled and it’s the most consistent season for swell on both coasts,” says Rambo. “The water temp hasn’t dropped yet (around 12C/54F in Winter), some kiwis are still surf in boardshorts, so unless you’re of the sensitive kind, you shouldn’t need to pack booties and gloves.”

rambo estrada new zealand surf autumn 2018 0156e

Backdrops can resemble its northern hemisphere relatives, think Vancouver Island, or California’s far north.


Just take a look at the map. New Zealand is basically a pair of slender islands, with a breathtaking (and highly active) mountain range running up the middle. What this means is each side has a variety of waves, exposed to different aspects.

When the wind swings or energy looks more inviting on the other side side, simply pack a day bag, fill up the tank and hit the road.

“To travel from the east coast to west coast in New Zealand can take between one to four hours depending on what part of the country you’re in. You can easily surf the east coast in the morning and the west coast in the afternoon. During Autumn both coasts can pump on the same day.”


rambo estrada new zealand surf autumn 2018 0162

Rambo has certainly fine tuned his empty game, likely because there’s minimal talent on hand to decorate.


According to a brief Wiki visit, Auckland, in the country’s north-west, houses one third New Zealand’s population. Obviously that opens up a lot of opportunity to stumble upon a deserted lineup outside the city.

The further one travels south, the less likely their chances of having to share waves. Though, having a buddy in the water can ease the marine predator thoughts that may enter the mind.

“With just 4.7 million kiwis and 1500 kilometres of coastline, if you go a bit of the beaten track it’s not hard to find waves to yourself.”

Waves on offer.

“There’s a wide variety of waves on both Islands. A lot of beach breaks and rocky point breaks, but if you hunt hard enough you might find a psycho slab or wedge.”

Rambo’s images tell the story well themselves. New Zealand’s Hollywood-approved landscape allows for any kind of wave imaginable; whether your preference be for sand or stone bottom rides, short, long, steep or cascading.


rambo estrada new zealand surf autumn 2018 0163

A little of that rugged landscape that one might expect to see in a J.R.R Tolkien film.


Anyone who knows a Kiwi is aware of the warmth in their personality. A super accommodating bunch, especially when compared to some other nationalities. Throw them a “churr bro”, let the locals have their fill first, respect their land and you won’t face any cringe moments.

“Like anywhere in the world if you turn up to a popular spot on a busy day, there’s going to be the odd cranky local. But in general, kiwi surfers are a friendly bunch and if you get chatting they might just give you a tip off of which gravel road to drive down or paddock to cross for some uncrowded perfection.”


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