For the first time in the history of the World Surf League Championship Tour, New Zealand will be represented on both the men's and women's sides of the draw this year.

With Paige Hareb and Ricardo Christie flying the flag on the top stage in the sport, 2019 will be an historic year for surfing in New Zealand.

The two return to familiar territory among the world's elite. Hareb debuted on the Championship Tour a decade ago as an 18-year-old and heads into her eighth campaign at the top level. Christie heads into his second year on tour after re-qualifying at the end of 2018. Christie made his debut at the top in 2015, but was unable to maintain his spot for the following season.

The 30-year-old Christie returns to the tour with a new outlook from that of his last stint. In a noticeable change to his game plan, Christie's patience in heats has paid off in a big way.


Speaking to the Herald late last year, he said it all came down to a change in his outlook while competing.

"You get to a stage where you've got to find that reason for why you're doing it, and that's why I started surfing in the first place - because I loved it so much," Christie said.

"When I'm at home surfing, I'm just in love with it and that's when my best surfing comes out – when I'm at home with no one else around – so I just tried to take that into the contest scene and it really helped and I'm looking forward to having that same outlook (on the Championship Tour)."

The Tour gets underway on Wednesday with the Gold Coast's Snapper Rock hosting the first of 10 stops.

Hareb, who held a low seed last season which saw her receive the toughest draws, will be in a familiar position when she meets reigning world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the opening round of the contest, as well as wildcard entry.

Christie will open his campaign on the Gold Coast against Australian Wade Carmichael and Brazilian Michael Rodrigues in what shapes up as the most even heat of the opening round.