New Labour leader David Shearer will be hoping he can ride a new wave of popularity after enjoying a surfing holiday.

Mr Shearer took his his wife and two children camping for about 10 days in Northland over Christmas.

He got in a few "sublime" days surfing on his nine-foot-plus Malibu board, which is now back on its rack in the garage in Auckland.

"It was great. I felt I needed a break and the break was good and so I'm raring to go actually. In some ways a bit of a rest kindles your enthusiasm for getting into it."


Today he will begin his first regional visit as leader with a trip to Christchurch to meet residents in New Brighton and the Parklands Action Group, and local officials.

Dunedin and Napier are also likely to see him in the next few weeks as will Taupo next week, when Labour MPs will hold their first caucus meeting of the year.

Mr Shearer said he wanted to be more systematic about how the party built up its presence in the regions - "rather than just drop in for three hours, be a little more systematic about it ... so it's a bit more than a flying visit". He could take MPs with relevant portfolio responsibilities to the area and would use the trips to help to build the party's grassroots organisation as well.

"The main focus will be on the province but there is going to be a key element as part of those visits around the party."

Outside of the greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch cities, Labour holds only two regional seats: Palmerston North and West Coast Tasman.

Phil Goff resigned as Labour leader after the election result in which Labour's 27 per cent cut its representation in Parliament from 43 to 34.

Mr Shearer won the leadership contest against New Lynn MP David Cunliffe.

He was back at his desk in Parliament last week and consulting daily with his new chief of staff, former MP Stuart Nash, about key appointments.


He is planning the regional visits, preparing for the caucus meeting and hiring key staff members for his office as Opposition leader.

He is now advertising for someone to head the Labour research unit.

Mr Shearer said the caucus retreat next week would be about how to build the party, how to connect with people who didn't vote Labour and how to be an effective opposition working with other opposition parties.

It would be less about changing policy and more about how to go about reviewing policy.

"The retreat to some degree is getting the right questions of things we need to be asking - how do we become an effective opposition in a more crowded oppositional space now? How do we work with other parties? What are the key messages we need to have to engage with those people that didn't vote for us?"

Prime Minister John Key is due back at his desk on Thursday.