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Kayaking New Zealand

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Kayaking is a fun and great experience and it’s a great sport that does not need any training beforehand. It’s very laid-back, and you can go at your own pace while sightseeing whilst getting a great workout for your upper body. There are some stunning places to go kayaking in New Zealand where you can enjoy spectacular scenery and see wildlife up close. When you visit New Zealand, there is a very high likelihood that at some point you will find yourself in a kayak!

If your visit to New Zealand is short and you find yourself only staying in Auckland there are still plenty of great sea-kayaking opportunities nearby. There are many great places to go kayaking in New Zealand in both the North and South Islands, but we’re going to tell you about the very best places for a great kayaking experience.

Best Kayaking in New Zealand

1. Auckland Rangitoto Island Day or Sunset Tour

6 hours. This is a long day but as well as a kayak adventure you get to explore Rangitoto Island, the volcanic island which is a landmark in Auckland. After 75 minutes kayaking across the Hauraki Gulf you arrive at Rangitoto for a 1 hour guided walk to the summit. After enjoying the view of Auckland city at sunset you paddle back to Auckland under the stars. Or if you go during the day then Auckland Sea Kayaks provide a good lunch by the water. (Fergs Kayaks (sunset) / Auckland Sea Kayaks (day and sunset))

kayak to rangitoto island kayaking in new zealand
Kayaking in New Zealand – Rangitoto Island

Equipment Hire – Both Fergs Kayaks and Auckland Sea Kayaks not only offer some fantastic guided tours in Auckland but you can also hire equipment from them and go on your own adventure. They do offer skills training if you need a bit of guidance.

2. Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

3 hours – 1 day. For one of the best kayaking experiences in New Zealand head to The Coromandel and Cathedral Cove. You’ll have an unforgettable trip out on the water with these guys, surrounded by stunning scenery. Choose their famous Cathedral Cove Kayak trip or if you want more adventure they offer a full day trip and a volcanic coast tour. (Cathedral Cove Kayaks)

cathedral cove coromandel
Kayak to Cathedral Cove Coromandel – iStock

3. Abel Tasman National Park

1/2 day – 5 days. Next on the list is the Abel Tasman National Park, located in the South Island. Abel Tasman has a lot to offer as far as scenery goes, it’s surrounded by forests, beaches, and bays. There is the Split Apple Rock where you will enjoy seeing the fur seals that call the Split Apple Rock home. Then there are also some lagoons, islands, beautiful beaches and bays.

These are all attractions that most people will never see but if you decide to go to this particular kayaking spot, you will be one of the lucky few to experience something like this. It really is a once in a lifetime kind of experience so don’t miss out! There are many locations at the Abel Tasman National Park that offer great kayaking experiences. These are absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend that you do visit the park just for the kayaking alone. (Abel Tasman Kayaks)

abel tasman national park
Abel Tasman National Park: Kayak in the ocean before starting your hike in the forest – do both in one day because everything is fairly close together. (James Cameron). CREDIT: Camilla Stoddart

4. The Bay of Islands

3 – 5 hours. The Bay of Islands is a subtropical region in New Zealand’s Northland area. It has beautiful beaches, pristine islands, bustling marine life, waterfalls, forests and so much more. While you have the option to cruise around the many islands, one of the activities that you can do on the Bay of Islands is go kayaking. The beautiful, historical towns of Paihia and Russell have become prime locations for kayak enthusiasts.

There are many, many guided tours that run between three to five hours in the water per trip. Relax, take in the splendid views and learn the history of this area by guides as well. Russell was the first NZ capital city so there’s a lot of history to tell about this place. (Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak / Coastal Kayakers / Bay of Islands Kayaking)

dolphin bay of islands
Dolphin, Bay of Islands

4. Marlborough Sounds

1/2 day – 5 days. Marlborough Sounds, which is 1500km on the coastline in the South Island of New Zealand, has a famous scenic spot on its route; a scene from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was filmed here. So, if you’re a huge fan of this movie, then this will be a must-do adventure.  Other than that slight fame, there are other great features of this kayaking spot. The scenery is mostly a mixture of trees that provide for quite a few different variations of the colour green.

Seals, dolphins, and penguins are among the sea creatures that you can see. One thing you can’t forget about this tour is the amazing and beautiful sea which can vary in colour from turquoise to green, and every colour in between. That, along with the prolonged hours of sunshine make it a beautiful and relaxing experience that you will surely enjoy. (Sea Kayak Adventures)


New Zealand is a country full of natural beauty, with mountains, volcanoes, lakes, forests and beautiful coast lines. It’s actually a perfect holiday spot for those who love nature. Because kayaking is great while sight-seeing, New Zealand also draws a massive number of people into the country just to seek out kayaking opportunities. With the above-listed places, you will surely satisfy your kayaking urge.

Kayaking Tips:

Kayaks come in either one-person or two-person layouts and you get an oar and the rest is, basically, self-explanatory. However, in case you tip over-make sure you put on your life jacket and it’s highly recommended that you wear travel shoes which offer an outer covering for your foot. Make sure that they also have a stiff bottom sole with a heel attached at the upper part of your shoe that covers all of the parts of your foot, like steel-toed boots.

Author: Josh Holt is a traveller and blogger who loves to explore new locations. He has been to 20 countries around the world and loves sharing his experiences with others.

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