At 17, Mount Maunganui surfer Luke Griffin is competing in his fourth nationals - and he has high hopes for this year's event.

Griffin is one of 330 entries - including 19 from Mount Maunganui, seven from Pāpāmoa, three from Waihī and six from Whakatāne - across 29 divisions competing at this week's Health 2000 National Surfing Championships 2019, being held between January 6 and 12 along the Taranaki coastline.

The competition is the longest running surfing event in New Zealand and is this year based at Stent Rd - the first time the event has been contested in Taranaki since 2007.

Griffin has had a good start to the competition, placing second in both his Open Men's and Under 18 Boys Division heats on day one to advance to the next rounds. It was just his second time surfing at Stent Rd.

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"Day one was, it was a bit tricky. The surf was good in my open heat because we had good waves and we had priority," Griffin said.

"The conditions were good in the morning."

On day one, Stent Rd offered up highly contestable 1m-plus waves and light onshore winds.

Conditions weren't the same in the afternoon for the Under 18 heats but he is hoping for perfect surfing conditions as he gets ready for the second round of the open men's division heats today and the quarterfinals of the Under 18s division today or tomorrow.

This year is Griffin's fourth competing at the nationals, but his first in the open men's division.

"I want to make the final, it's my goal.

"I definitely want to win, everybody wants to win but to get top three would be my goal."

Griffin started surfing competitively at the age of 12 - something he picked up watching his dad Phil and older brother Jordan.

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While enjoying a rest day in the competition yesterday, he and his dad headed out into the water for a surf. Every other day, Griffin says it's rare he's not out on the water with his brother.

Gisborne surfer Ricardo Christie has returned to competition to defend his title at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships but it wasn't without struggle, having to gain clearance from the World Surf League (WSL) to compete in the event. That confirmation only arrived on the morning of the first day, when he stormed his way to the highest heat score of the day.

The Open Women's Division as well as the junior female divisions was held on Monday. Among those competing is defending champion Raiha Ensor from Mount Maunganui.

In the 55 year history of the event the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships has grown to encompass 29 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups making for a largely inclusive event, filled with high level surfing.

The Health 2000 National Surfing Championships forms the first leg of the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series which provides a vital pathway toward the ISA World Surfing Games, a key Olympic qualification event in 2019.