This guide had been designed by 0800 80 surf to help you chose the right board. It is designed for the BEGINNER to INTERMEDIATE surfer who surfs mostly in the Christchurch region.

Size Does Matter

The Bigger the surf board the more stable it is and the easier it is to ride. Most beginners need a board over 7 ft in length.

It’s not just length however it’s over all volume. The width and thickness of a board are important too. Most beginners are looking for a board at least 19 inches wide and at least 2 ½ inches thick. You will normally find the dimensions of a board written in small letters on the base of the board near the tail along the stringer line.

e.g. 8’6’’ x 19 ‘ x 2 ½ ‘ means the board is 8 foot 6 inches long, it is 19 inches wide at its widest point and is 2 ½ inches thick at its thickest point.

How Long is too Long

There is a compromise between the stability of the board and how easily it turns. The bigger boards are more stable but turn more slowly. A short board does not offer much stability but is extremely manoeuvrable.
Longer boards are also heavier and can be more difficult to get out in larger waves.
The longer boards paddle faster though and go well in smaller surf where as the shortboards are more difficult to paddle and are suited to steeper more powerful waves.

How Big you are

The heavier the person the larger board they will need.

How Strong you are

Big boards are great but you still need to be able to carry it easily to the water. If you do not have much upper body strength then you will need a smaller board. Your arms need to be long enough to reach around the board. Check how easily your board fits under your arm.

What style of surfing. Short boarding or Longboarding

One thing you need to decide is what style of surfing you like.
Longboarding is the traditional surfing style. It’s is about grace and style, hanging ten and cruising. Trimming and graceful turns. Christchurch waves are well suited to Longboarding. If you like this style of surfing then you are best to learn on a Longboard straight away.

The shortboarding style is all about high speed turns. Radical changes of direction, aerials, vertical re entries, swooping cutbacks and barrel riding. This style of surfing is best in steep powerful waves. If you like this style of surfing, then you will need to start on a bigger board and then gradually progress using shorter narrow boards as you improve.

Don’t limit yourself

Surfing is all about fun. Some days the surf is better for longboarding other days shortboarding. Try to learn to use as many different boards as you can.

Types of Board

There are four main categories of surf board.

  • Shortboard
  • Normally less than 8ft
    Narrow pointed nose
  • Good for intermediate to advance surfers.

    Good for small children who are learning.

    Low stability

    More difficult to paddle.

    High manoeuvrebility

    Suited to steeper larger waves.

    Suits shortboard surfing style

    Easy to manage when paddling out and in larger waves.

  • Funboard
  • 6-8 ft
    Slightly rounded nose
  • Good for smaller sized beginners or someone progressing from a larger board.

    Fair stability

    Paddles slower than longer boards

    Good manoeuvrebility

    Suited to most wave types

    Suits shortboard surfing style

    Easy to manage when paddling out and in larger waves.

  • Mini Mal
  • 7-9 ft
    Wide rounded nose
  • The ideal beginner board


    Paddles easily

    Medium manoeuvrebility

    Suited to most wave types

    Suits both short and long board surfing styles.

    Can be difficult when paddling out and in larger waves but not as hard as a longboard

    Good for small to large surfers

  • Longboard
  • 9 ft plus
    Wide rounded nose
  • Good for all skill levels

    High Stability

    Paddles easily

    Slower turns

    Great for small or soft waves but good in big waves too.

    Suits the longboard style of surfing

    Can be difficult to manage when paddling out and in larger waves.

    Great for larger surfers