Abel Tasman National Park (South Island)
Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s most popular national parks and its reputation is well-deserved. For kayaking, the conditions are stable, the weather is warm, and the beaches are ideal for camping and swimming. Few kayaking destinations are as beautiful or carefree.
Milford Sound/Doubtful Sound (South Island)
Despite its remote location, Milford Sound gets almost one million annual visitors and the vast majority stick to boat tours. Getting up early and being the first on the water on a kayak truly is an unforgettable experience. For those looking to get off the beaten path, nearby Doubtful Sound is three times larger and gets a fraction of the visitors.
Marlborough Sounds (South Island)
The Marlborough Sounds don’t feel as tropical as nearby Abel Tasman but are considerably bigger and wilder. The three main areas for kayaking are Queen Charlotte Sound, Kenepuru Sound, and Pelorus Sound. All have unique characteristics but are wonderful kayaking destinations. Dolphins and orcas frequently are spotted in the Sounds.
Kaikoura (South Island)
Kaikoura is one the South Island’s most scenic venues with the Pacific Ocean just a few kilometers from the snow-capped Kaikoura Mountains. It’s also a haven for whales and other marine life: the unique makeup of the coastline and underwater Kaikoura Canyon creates a rich feeding environment. Kayaking options include guided trips, independent rentals, and even kayak fishing.
Bay of Islands (North Island)
The Bay of Islands in the Northland Region of the North Island is a world unto itself. All told, there are several large inlets, over 150 islands, 800 km of coastline, and plentiful marine life. Kayaking trips range from half-day guided tours out of Paihia to multi-day trips to the Cavalli Islands Conservation Reserve. The Bay of Islands suits all ages and abilities.