You did do well catching the snapper. I have done most of my surfcasting and sea fishing in Canterbury, Otago, Southland and Fiordland. Twenty odd years ago I regularly went surfcasting at Birdlings Flat on average about twice a month. Only more recently have I been doing more surfcasting in Marlborough and Nelson. The thing that stands out to me is just how different the the top of the South Island is to Canterbury in terms of fish species you can catch. The kahawai fishing in Canterbury, and other places, has improved considerably in the last few years. In Nelson, and the Sounds, it isn’t unusual to catch 10 different species while fishing from shore during a single trip to the beach!
The beaches in Nelson are shallower than what we are used to in Canterbury. The water is also cleaner I think. You can get snapper in surprisingly shallow water.