Surfing Reefs

Surfing Reefs (and other marine recreational activities and facilities)


Since 1996 we have been involved in research on artificial surfing reefs as part of the development of New Zealand’s first artificial surfing reef at Mount Maunganui.  The focus is the environmental impacts, particularly social impacts, of such reefs and the tensions and contests between different uses of coastal/marine space and recreation and tourism.  The fundamental question is “What is the nature of coastal and marine recreational space(s) and how are these provided for by planning and regulatory authorities?”

Research includes wider aspects of recreational use of beaches, other types of reef, marine protected areas and charter boats.  There are few researchers with a long term involvement in this type of research in New Zealand. While the focus at Lincoln University is on the planning, environmental management and human geography of recreational use, we work collaboratively with biophysical geographers, oceanographers, engineers and biologists at Waikato University, the Surfbreak Protection Society, and ASRLtd as opportunities arise.

Those involved include:
Hamish Rennie (Lincoln University),
Brad Scarfe (Auckland Council),
The Late Prof Terry Healy (Waikato University),
Robert Makgill (North South Environmental Law) and
The late Matthew Skellern (Auckland University)
Bailey Peryman (Lincoln University)
Carrie Moore (Lincoln University).

This research has provided the base for evidence presented on behalf of the Surfbreak Protection Society to the hearings of the Government's Board of Inquiry into the Proposed New Zealand Costal Policy Statement in October 2008.  The submission resulted in substantive provisions for surfbreak protection in the final New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement released on 28 October 2010 by the Minister of Conservation.

Current research includes how to implement the NZCPS surfing policy, evaluating its effect on decision-making, and how to develop policies and protection for surfbreaks of regional significance for regional policy statements (Hamish Rennie, Bailey Peryman) and on spiritual associations of surfers and scuba divers with their activity, places and environmental activism (Hamish Rennie, Grant Cushman and Carrie Moore (MNRMEE)).


Skellern, M., Peryman, B., Orchard S., Rennie, H.G. 2013 Planning Approaches for the Management of Surf Breaks in New Zealand Auckland: Auckland University, Auckland Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Surfbreak Protection Society of New Zealand. P. 98.

Rennie, H.G. 2013 “Surf tourism, activism and science: From creating to protecting surf breaks in New Zealand” p. 89 in Andriotis, K. (ed.) Book of Abstracts of the International Conference on Tourism (ICOT 2013): Trends, Impacts and Policies on Sustainable Tourism Development Limassol, Cyprus: International Association for Tourism Policy. P.116

Peryman B 2011 Surf Break Identification and Protection in the Gisborne District Gisborne District Council: Gisborne.

Peryman, B. And M. Skellern 2011 “Planning tools for surf breaks” Coastal News 46(April): 1-3

Moore C., Rennie H., Cushman G., 2010 “The Influence of Spirituality on Surfers : Implications for the Marine Environment and Coastal Policy” presented to the Annual Conference of the New Zealand Coastal Society, 17-19 November 2010, Whitianga.

Scarfe B.E., Healy T.R., Immenga D.K.H., and Rennie H.G., 2010. Charting of the coastal environment – a case study on mapping surfing breaks. Hydrographic Journal 143: 35-53

Johns, H.K., 2009. “From creation to partial completion – the social impact of the Tay Street surf reef, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand” MAppSc(Envt Mgt) dissertation, Department of Environmental Management, Lincoln University.

Scarfe, B.E., Healy, T.R. Rennie, H.G., and Mead, S.T., 2009. Sustainable management of surfing breaks – An overview.  Reef Journal, 1(1), 44-73.

Scarfe, B.E., Healy, T.R., Rennie, H.G., and Mead, S.T., 2009. Sustainable management of surfing breaks: case studies and recommendations. Journal of Coastal Research, 25(3):684-703

Scarfe, B.E., Healy, T.R., and Rennie, H.G., 2009. Research-based surfing literature for coastal management and the science of surfing – a review. Journal of Coastal Research 25(3): 539-557

Scarfe, B.E., Healy, T.R., Rennie, H.G., and Brooks, S., 2009. An approach to hydrographic data management using customised GIS and geodatabases. Hydrographic Journal, No. 128 & 129: 23-34.

Scarfe B 2008 "Oceanographic Considerations for the Management and Protection of Surfing Breaks" PhD dissertation, University of Waikato.

This project is linked to LEaP research in the Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Skellern, M., Rennie, H.G., Davis, M. 2009 (March) ”Working towards the protection of surf breaks” Planning Quarterly 172:12-15

Towards Surf break protection (PDF 620 KB)

Page last updated on: 28/01/2014