Taranaki webs the surf

The ‘surfing the web’ cliché has been turned on its head in Taranaki, where surfers can now go online to suss out current conditions at their favourite breaks – even before they get out of bed.

The new online Surfwatch offers a mix of real-time and forecast data covering wind, swell, tides, weather and water and air temperature at nine key surfing locations spanning the entire Taranaki coastline, with live webcams at some.

Surfwatch is at www.taranakisurf.nz(external link)and functions as a smartphone app when users save it to their home screen. The new online tool is the result of collaborative effort involving the surfing community, data providers and web developers, led by the Taranaki Regional Council.

It incorporates the Council’s own real-time wind data, as well as forecasts or data from NIWA and MetOcean Solutions’ SwellMap covering swell conditions, air and water temperature and weather. Some sites also feature Primo Wireless webcams.

One of those involved in its development was Craig Williamson, a Taranaki Regional Councillor who is also Chief Executive of Surfing Taranaki Inc. “Surfwatch is a one-stop shop that’s very useful for surfers,” he says. “Someone in New Plymouth, for example, isn’t going to want to drive 45 minutes down the coast if they’re unsure what the conditions will be like. Surfwatch will give them certainty as they plan their day.”

The Council’s Director-Corporate Services, Mike Nield, says Surfwatch is already getting good feedback.

“A small focus group of surfers gave us invaluable feedback as we developed this new feature, and a wider group tried out a prototype, which allowed us to make more improvements before it was launched,” says Mike. “We’re keen to hear from more users, so take a look at it and tell us what you think.”

He says the Council is keen to collaborate with others and share its data in a way that the community finds accessible, useful and user-friendly.

“We intend to develop online tools for more sectors in the region,” says Mike. “Surfwatch is a first step and it’s been an enjoyable project. We got great input from the surfing community and we appreciated it very much.”

See Surfwatch at www.taranakisurf.nz(external link).