It wasn't his idea to enter but Whangarei's Derek Brunker is now a national champion after a top effort in Gisborne.

Brunker finished on top of the Over 55 division at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships after an impressive run in the final.

And it's really thanks to his wife.

"My wife had put my name down. She told me 'I've entered you' about a week before we went down so I knew I was going to have to compete," he said.

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"She roped me into it."

Brunker was heading down to watch his son Max compete in the Open Men's division. Max was knocked out in the second round.

Fellow Northlander Paul Moretti finished fourth in the Open Men's division.

The senior Brunker meanwhile held off a surging Phillip Griffin, who scored a 12.9, with a better run to finish half a point ahead of him.

Phil Wallis (10) and Noel Francis (8.67) completed the top four.

Brunker said while the level of competition was fairly strong, the weather conditions meant getting good waves was paramount.

"The first couple of days had really good waves but I wasn't competing until the back end of the week," he said.

"The surf dropped back and they were tricky and trying conditions. There were still decent waves at times.

"The level was pretty good, it was close all week. It all came down to who got the better waves at the end of the day.

"There were a few rounds to get through so there were plenty of competitors down there."

Brunker was one of many Northlanders who competed at the nationals, with the likes of Moretti, Max Brunker, Rupert Newbold (third in Over 60 Men) Tom Robinson (fourth in Under 16 Boys) all making it deep into their respective divisions.

Brunker proved he can still perform on the highest stage, but does he have any designs on defending his title next year?

"Nope, could be a one-off situation. Might be a one and done deal."