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South Island

Canoe & Kayak Tours

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Our most recommended South Island Canoe & Kayak Tours

Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

1. Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

Your tour starts off with a cruise along the entire length of the sound and out to the Tasman Sea on a Nature cruise. Each cruise has a different focus and explores a different part of the sound, so pick the one that's best for you! Towards the end of your cruise you will be dropped off at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory to journey through the history, geology and wildlife of Milford Sound and visit New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory to view rare black coral. Then, your specialist kayak and nature guide will take you over to the kayaking pontoon to enjoy up to 90 minutes of relaxing kayaking in serene Harrison Cove. Gaze through the glacier-fed waters as you kayak in one of the most majestic places in the world. This is an intimate experience with a maximum of 8 kayaks per tour including a specialist kayak and nature guide to point out the fjord features and wildlife. No previous experience is necessary and we even have an automated lift for easy entry and exit from the kayaks.

Queenstown: Dart River Canoe, Jet Boat & Paradise Day Trip

2. Queenstown: Dart River Canoe, Jet Boat & Paradise Day Trip

Combine wilderness jet boating with unique ‘Funyak’ inflatable canoes for a fun way to explore the Dart River located in the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park. Your full-day adventure begins with a courtesy transfer to Glenorchy from Queenstown.  Admire lakeside scenery as your local driver shares entertaining commentary about Lake Wakatipu and its legends. The spectacular 46-kilometer drive is considered one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives. Meet your friendly, experienced guides at the Dart River visitor center who will kit you out with all the equipment you’ll need for the day. Enjoy 1-hour of high-speed wilderness jet boating through the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area and your Funyak launch site.  Start your paddle, soaking in the tranquillity as you float downstream on sparkling water. Explore hidden side streams, rock pools, and dramatic chasms under the expert guidance of your guides. Savor a delicious picnic lunch, which marks the midway point, before continuing downriver. At Paradise, climb aboard the bus for a back-country tour through the valley to Glenorchy. Immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Your adventure concludes with your return to Queenstown. 

Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

3. Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

Begin your adventure in the town of Kaikoura where you will meet your professional guides. Receive a short safety briefing and paddling lesson before being allocated all the necessary equipment for the tour. Head out on the waters of the beautiful ocean surrounding the city. Kayak along the Kaikoura coastline, where you will take in the magnificent views of sheer cliff faces, craggy rocks, and mountain ranges while searching for chance encounters with Dusky Dolphins and Blue Penguins. Experience the excitement of watching cute fur seals ducking, weaving, and diving around your kayak. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to paddle gently along with these beautiful animals as they swim around the Kaikoura Peninsula hunting for their favourite feed of octopus. This tour is suitable for all ages and abilities while operating year-round, and doesn't require any previous kayaking experience. Encounter a diverse range of wildlife on the New Zealand coastline and see some of the country's most beautiful animals.

Franz Josef: 3-Hour Kayak Tour on Lake Mapourika

4. Franz Josef: 3-Hour Kayak Tour on Lake Mapourika

Gear up for an incredible, three-hour guided kayaking experience. Begin your adventure by meeting your experienced team at the local partner's office in Franz Josef. Join them and your small group on a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Glide effortlessly across the water, taking in panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Tours depart at various times throughout the day. Mornings are often the calmest time of the day on the lake, a perfect choice for photographers looking to capture the beauty of the area. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an experience not to be missed during your visit to Franz Josef.

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

5. Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

Enjoy a memorable sea-kayaking experience from Akaroa with two departure options. No experience is necessary because the trips are run in settled safe conditions by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  Depart from Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Learn about the region from your local guide and, during the afternoon trip, stop for photo opportunities along the way. Then, it is time to gear up and climb into the double kayaks. Your safety is the top priority and the experience can be mind-blowing with the right sea conditions. Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch can be reached in settled sea conditions. Marvel at the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various seabirds, and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin.

Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

6. Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

Hop into a kayak and paddle around the beautiful coastal waters of New Zealand for up to 2 hours. Take in the unique landscapes as you go or enjoy the thrill of getting right up close to New Zealand's unique marine life. Spot the curious fur seals swimming and diverse range of birds, fish, and more. Listen to a short briefing explaining how to gear up, paddle, and steer your kayak. Then with full confidence, embark on this adventure. The highly stable sea kayaks allow children to safely enjoy the kayaking experience with an adult paddling right behind them. Professional, qualified guides will remain close to you throughout the kayaking time. Take photos of the amazing mountainous region around you, absorb the sheer sublime rocks, and meet some playful New Zealand Fur Seals.

Queenstown: Kayaking or SUP Experience on Moke Lake

7. Queenstown: Kayaking or SUP Experience on Moke Lake

Explore the Queenstown backcountry through this kayak or SUP adventure on the beautiful Moke Lake, located only 20 minutes from Queenstown. This stunning location will let you see another side to Queenstown: a quieter, more peaceful side to the "adventure capital of the world." Your guide will collect you in a minibus from Queenstown and transport you out to Moke Lake. During the journey, you'll chat about the area, a great opportunity to ask any questions you might have for a local expert. On arrival at Moke Lake, one of the team will run through the safety briefing as well as any top tips before setting you up in the kayak and sending you off into the lake to paddle around at your own pace. Explore this horseshoe-shaped lake and admire the lush natural surroundings as you breathe in the fresh air and tranquility.  When you're done, return shore where there will be some traditional kiwi refreshments waiting for you.

Lake Rotoiti & Hot Pools Guided Kayak

8. Lake Rotoiti & Hot Pools Guided Kayak

Combine a kayak tour with a soak in the spectacular Manupirua Springs Hot Pools on Lake Rotoiti whilst visiting Rotorua.  On arrival at the base, you'll be kitted up with paddling gear before a short drive to the lake. After a safety briefing, you'll paddle across the scenic Lake Rotoiti to an amazing spot only accessible by boat. Situated right on the lake edge there are a range of hot pools of varying temperatures, all fed from a natural hot spring. There is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the hot pools or swim in the lake before enjoying a leisurely return paddle. During your time on the lake, your guide will tell you some of the history of the area and discuss local Maori legends. You will also have the option of visiting a cave where you may be able to catch a glimpse of some glow-worms.

Franz Josef: Kayak & Walking Tour to Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

9. Franz Josef: Kayak & Walking Tour to Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

Enjoy a scenic kayaking tour across Lake Mapourika and onto the ancient soils of the protected Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Begin your adventure by meeting your experienced team at the local partner's office in Franz Josef. Join them and your small group on a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Head out onto the water and take in panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Discover a prehistoric rainforest, abundant birdlife, and the home of the rarest Kiwi on the planet. Throughout your tour, enjoy complimentary tea and coffee. Enjoy multiple fantastic photo opportunities, and have your guide take complimentary photos of you as you paddle and hike to the sanctuary.

Akaroa: 3-Hour Guided Sunrise Sea Kayaking Safari

10. Akaroa: 3-Hour Guided Sunrise Sea Kayaking Safari

Experience the best of nature on a 3-hour guided kayak safari from Akaroa town. Venture into an eco-paradise and view wildlife along the way. Stop at a remote beach for refreshments, a swim, or just to explore. After a briefing session at 07:30 the tour heads out on a gentle paddling excursion. After about an hour, you’ll stop for a break at the beach. No experience is necessary for this adventure. It’s easy and fun and suitable for anyone 12 years of age and older! The early morning trip can make for spectacular sightings. The guides say that these are the best trips of the day, as there’s no one around, and it’s just you and nature and your silent kayak. What you’ll actually see on the safari depends on a number of factors, but often guests report seeing cormorants diving, gannets feeding, and fur seals and flippered penguins playing. There have even been sightings of the rare, small Hector’s dolphin. Included in the tour at no additional cost are photos that your guide will take, refreshments, a personal picnic blanket, a remote beach stop for a swim or relaxation, and brief stops on the water to hear about interesting events, and facts about the wildlife and points of interest.

Frequently asked questions about South Island Canoe & Kayak Tours

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What people are saying about South Island

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 35 reviews

That the most wonderful time. Ben our guide was an absolute gem & made the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable. We saw seals, penguins & many varieties of sea birds. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable & I certainly learnt a lot. Would thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting Akaroa

Had a great experience and a very nice time with our guide Sophie. Thank you for that! Nice chatting, lots of interesting facts about wildlife and the area, meeting some seals, penguins and even got a glimpse at a passing pod of dolphins.

It was beautiful to be on the water in the kayaks that were easy to paddle. The scenery and wildlife spectacular. The guides were fun friendly and informative in all aspects of the trip.

A great trip, our guide was really knowledgeable. We saw lots of seals and some penguins. The drive over was also spectacular.

Good customer service. Paced to your own abilities. Highly recommended