10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand
10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand

10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand

© Tourism Bay of Plenty

Where to Stand-up Paddle Board (SUP) in New Zealand

It’s true, the world’s fastest-growing sport has been lapped up quickly by Kiwis. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is just one other way to explore the great outdoors of New Zealand. With more than 15,000km (9,320 miles) of coastline and hundreds of lakes, there are plenty of amazing environments to hop on a SUP board and start exploring. However, since more of us don’t exactly travel around with a SUP board, here are some awesome places to SUP in New Zealand where you can hire a SUP board or do a SUP tour.

Apart from accessing some beautiful parts of New Zealand’s coasts and lakes, SUP is also a favourite pastime in New Zealand for fitness, yoga and even racing. Join in with the Kiwi culture through the sport of stand-up paddleboarding! SUP tours in New Zealand usually come with an introductory lesson that will get you stood on the board in no time.

1. Whangamata

All the action is out on the water in the little Coromandel town of Whangamata. While there are lots to explore along its 6km (4-mile) beach, the gem of Whangamata is Donut Island/Whenuakura. Paddle through an archway into the middle of a ring-shaped island with towering cliffs topped with forest. The island is steeped in Maori legend adding to its grandeur. For more things to do in the Coromandel, see 5 Fun Things to Do in Whangamata and 15 Coromandel Must-Dos.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Poor Knights Islands

These islands off the shores of Tutukaka, Northland, are not to be missed! Not only are the rugged cliff islands a spectacle to see, but the whole area is a reserve for wildlife both underwater and on the islands. (That’s why it’s also a top diving spot). Paddle through natural archways and into the world’s largest sea cave, Rikoriko Cave.

10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand© David Kirkland - Northland Inc

3. Rotorua

There’s no shortage of lakes around the Rotorua area! The two top stand-up paddleboarding locations are on the magnificent Blue Lake and Lake Rotorua itself, with trips taking you up a channel to a stunning waterfall. Check out tours like this with Paddle Board Rotorua on Viator and Tripadvisor. SUP is a great way to see some of the 20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua.

© Rotorua Paddle Tours - Destination Rotorua

4. Akaroa

For a unique SUP experience in New Zealand, check out the stand-up paddle boarding tours in Akaroa near Christchurch. It’s the only location where you can do SUP at night on light-up paddle boards. Why does that matter? The lights illuminate fish, eels, stingray and underwater vegetation below your paddle board!

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Waiheke Island

Aucklanders love their stand-up paddle boarding so it’s no surprise that SUP boards are so readily available to hire on Waiheke Island. Explore the beaches and inlets of this island of the Hauraki Gulf, also famous for its wineries. All in all, if you want a more laid-back SUP experience then do it on one of New Zealand most relaxing islands! Plus, don’t miss these 5 Waiheke Island Must-Dos.

10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Mount Maunganui

Any trip to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region is not complete without climbing The Mount – a volcano standing high in the Mount Maunganui suburb. It’s also worth hopping on a paddle board and checking out the hidden beaches and marine life around The Mount too! Book your trip with Eastcoast Paddler on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see more things to do in Mount Maunganui in our list of 10 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Queenstown

Queenstown is on every traveller’s list when they venture to New Zealand. For that reason, the town is alive 24/7! To escape the hustle and bustle and take a break from all the adrenaline activities offered in the Adrenaline Capital of New Zealand, hire a paddle board and see what the amazing Lake Wakatipu has to offer! You’ll away from the crowds in no time.

pxhere© pxhere

8. Napier

The calm waters of the Napier Harbour are a great place to learn to stand-up paddle board and practice your skills. Otherwise, check out some of the fabulous Napier beaches in the Hawke’s Bay region. It will be a welcome break if you’re a backpacker doing some picking work in the area.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Wanaka

SUP on Lake Wanaka or the moving waters of the Clutha River in a SUP adventure in Wanaka with Paddle Wanaka. With stunning mountain surroundings and a calm lake, it’s the perfect location for a taster of stand up paddle boarding. It’s also a popular location for SUP yoga! Find out more about Paddle Wanaka on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Wanaka NZ© Wanaka NZ

10. Abel Tasman

Paddle along the calmest stretch of the sensational Abel Tasman National Park coastline. This national park is renowned for its pristine golden sand beaches backed with native forest and dotted with bird sanctuary islands. Between all the beaches, stunning forested inlets and islands, who knows what wildlife you’ll encounter! By the way, don’t miss 5 Must-Dos in the Abel Tasman National Park.

10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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