Magnet Bay on Banks Peninsula: Surf, Wildlife and Caves

Magnet Bay is one of many secluded little bays around Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. Each one is beautiful in their own unique way and tucked away from the main road.

Magnet Bay, in particular, greets the southerly swell head-on, resulting in it being one of the famous Canterbury left-hand surf breaks when the conditions are right.

Around 1.5 hours drive from Christchurch, Magnet Bay is the first southern beach on the Banks Peninsula after Birdlings Flat. It’s a rocky beach but as with most locals, beauty comes with the right swell conditions rather than golden sand.

Getting to Magnet Bay

You can use the map on your CamperMate app to get directions to Magnet Bay. However, it is a gravel road after you reach the top of the hill. So, if you’re in a 4-6 berth campervan you will definitely want to avoid this spot! A backpacker/smaller campervan should be ok, but be prepared for a slow trip.

It’s also accessed via a working farm, so just be careful and drive slow as you head down to the end of the road. You’ll see a bunch of pine trees that you can park up next to. On a day with a southerly swell and a Northerly wind, you might be a bit hard pushed to find a good parking spot. In all honesty, that doesn’t happen all that often, so you should be fine.

Wildlife and Fishing in Magnet Bay

Driftwood, Magnet Bay
Driftwood, Magnet Bay

This place is full of wildlife! Seals, Kahawai, Rig and who knows what else. Bring your fishing rod if it’s calm and you might be able to catch yourself something to eat.

There’s also plenty of driftwood that can be used as firewood here. So, as long as you’re careful, you can light yourself a fire. You can also spend the night in one of the caves, if you’re keen!

View from inside one of the caves, Magnet Bay
View from inside one of the Magnet Bay caves. This cave only had space for one, so if you’re a lone wolf you’ll be sweet!

If that’s your kind of thing, bring a mattress or two as the ground is very rocky. Even then, you might find yourself heading back in the middle of the night to your car for the comfort of the back seat…

Even without any swell, Magnet Bay is fun for a day trip and more often than not you’ll be the only ones here. It’s wild with lots of marine life and not far from Christchurch.

Remember to check your CamperMate app for the weather forecast!

Blog post by Adam Hutchinson

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