10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand
10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand

10 Best Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand

© Rob Suisted – Destination Fiordland

Where to Go Sea Kayaking in New Zealand

There’s a pretty common rule in New Zealand that where there’s a coastal town, there’s kayaking. Kiwis love to get out on the water and kayaking is an awesome way to do it! There’s nothing like the feeling of working for those stunning coastal views of pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, island and marine wildlife. With more than 15,000km of coastline in New Zealand, you bet there is a lot of sea kayaking to be done here. Nevertheless, we’ll make the decision of picking a kayaking location easier by listing these stunning spots for sea kayaking in New Zealand!

All kayaking tours in New Zealand include a quick introductory lesson for kayaking, which is great if you have never paddled before. Otherwise, there are often options to hire a kayak and explore at your own leisure.

1. Abel Tasman

The most popular activity in the Abel Tasman National Park (well, maybe apart from the Abel Tasman Great Walk) is sea kayaking. This national park is all about the coast with its pristine golden sand beaches backed by regenerating native forest. With lots of hut accommodation along the coast, it’s a great location to do a multi-day kayaking adventure. Otherwise, there are plenty of day options with water taxis taking you to the best kayaking spots. Kayaking trips depart from Motueka, Kerikeri and Golden Bay. Check out The Sea Kayaking Company on Viator and Tripadvisor to get you started.

Plus, don’t miss these 10 Amazing Things to Do in the Abel Tasman National Park.

10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand© Kaiteriteri Kayak - www.nelsontasman.nz

2. Milford Sound

Milford Sound was already on your New Zealand bucket list, right? One of the awesome ways to experience the towering fiord mountains and an obscene amount of waterfalls is by a kayak tour. Nothing else will make you feel smaller in this grand landscape. Book your kayak tour with Rosco’s Milford Kayaks (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Southern Discoveries (on Viator and Tripadvisor).

Plus, don’t miss these 5 Milford Sound Must-Dos.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Goat Island

Sea kayaking with a difference: the kayaks available to hire at Leigh’s Goat Island Marine Reserve are completely clear so you can see the underwater wildlife. Marine life is thriving in this reserve where fishing and disturbing the marine life is prohibited so it’s a great way to see what lies beneath without getting wet! Clearyaks can be rented from the Goat Island Marine Reserve or book rentals on Viator or Tripadvisor.

Find out more about Goat Island in our 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Queen Charlotte Sound

A paddle in the Queen Charlotte Sound in Picton is usually full of surprises, whether it’s the marine wildlife spotted or the stunning wilderness areas to enjoy within an hour’s paddle of Picton. Either take a tour from the Picton Harbour or hire a kayak from one of the many Queen Charlotte Sound Resorts and see what you discover! Check out kayak tours with Wilderness Guides on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Get some inspiration at 10 Awesome Activities in the Marlborough Sounds.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Bay of Islands

In a bay named after the fact that it has 144 islands, you know there’s plenty to explore by kayak! However, one of the more unique kayaking experiences you can have is at night. Check out the bio-luminescent algae creating little sparkles in the water with the stroke of your paddle on The Rock Adventure Cruise. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Check out more 7 Water Activities in the Bay of Islands.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Cathedral Cove

With vibrant turquoise water, white coastal cliffs, arches and caves, Cathedral Cove is a fantastic location for sea kayaking in New Zealand. Double up with a mate and see the Coromandel’s most popular beach by sea kayak.

And try out these other 15 Coromandel Must-Dos while you’re at it.

10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Whakatane

Either kayak to the island sanctuary of Whale Island full of native birds or in the unique ecosystem of the Ohiwa Harbour. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of opportunities to marvel at the wildlife and see the beautiful coastline in the Whakatane area.

Check out more things to do in the area using the 10 Whakatane Must-Dos.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Akaroa

The sheltered waters of the Akaroa Harbour are ideal for a kayaking tour or freedom kayak hire. See the awesome scenery of this harbour formed in the crater of an ancient volcano and watch out for Hector’s dolphins and little blue penguins which are abundant in the area. Book your Akaroa guided kayak tour on Viator or Tripadvisor.

Plus, don’t miss more things to do listed in The Complete Guide to Akaroa.

10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Auckland

Of the shores of Auckland is the body of water known as the Hauraki Gulf, dotted with volcanic islands. Check out Rangitoto Island and its lava fields on a sunset kayaking tour with Auckland Sea Kayaks (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), or get yourself to one of the 10 Islands to Kayak to From Auckland.

Plus, don’t miss these 10 Auckland Must-Dos.

10 Stunning Spots for Sea Kayaking in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Doubtful Sound

And last but certainly not least is the pristine natural wilderness of Doubtful Sound. This fiord in the Fiordland National Park offers an awesome alternative to kayaking in Milford Sound if you have more time. The fiord has less boat traffic and there are options for multi-day trips.

It’s definitely one to add to the Fiordland must-do list!

 Steve Cadman on Flickr© Steve Cadman on Flickr


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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