With New Zealand’s two stunningly beautiful main islands, over 15,000 kilometers of coastline, and countless fjords and interior waterways, one of the best ways to experience the country’s natural wonders is from the water. Sea kayaking opens up the coast and larger bodies of water including the sounds and lakes. In line with New Zealand’s penchant for adventure, whitewater kayaking down rivers and narrow canyons is becoming increasingly popular as well.

The quintessential New Zealand kayaking trips are paddling through the turquoise bays of Abel Tasman or beneath the thundering waterfalls of Milford Sound. There are, however, numerous other opportunities for kayaking from whale watching to multi-day trips in the northern reaches of the country. For those new to the sport, hiring a guide makes it easy—they provide the equipment, transportation, and assistance on the water. For those with experience, kayak hire is readily available.

More on Kayaking in New Zealand

Seasons/When to Go

The summer months from December through March bring the warmest conditions; air and water temperatures in New Zealand decrease from north to south. Many kayaking companies stay open year-round and will operate anytime the conditions are settled. In Milford Sound, for example, the winter can be a beautiful time to kayak with snow-covered mountains, fewer boats on the water, and no sandflies. Check with the local guides/rentals shops for location specific weather information. 

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