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South Island

Canoe & kayak tours

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.

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

4. 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.

From Queenstown: 2 Day Fiordland National Park Adventure

5. From Queenstown: 2 Day Fiordland National Park Adventure

The ultimate small group Fiordland combo experience combining a premium Cheeky Kiwi Travel tour to the top Highlights around Te Anau & Milford Sound, a Milford Sound boutique cruise, your choice of a Milford Track day walk or a Milford Sound kayaking experience, Overnight accommodation in Te Anau and a picnic lunch all from Queenstown. This tour is the ultimate way to do the Fiordland region right. Itinerary: Day 1: 1. Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu - Your tour starts in the stunning city of Queenstown. Your guide will point out highlights while setting the scene for the day. As we wind our way around Lake Wakatipu, with amazing views of ‘The Remarkables’ Mountain Range and the lake, stopping for photos is a must. 2. Lake Te Anau – After more amazing views we arrive in Te Anau, home to Lake Te Anau, NZ’s second largest lake. Here we stop for a break before starting the Highlights Tour and making our way to Lake Te Anau, exploring the edges and visiting our favourite spot. 3. Te Anau Bird Sanctuary - We continue to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary for a guided tour and to see some of the rarest birds in the country including the Takahe and Kaka. You will learn about these animals and local environment while exploring this Te Anau asset. 4. Dead Marshes & Rainbow Reach - We visit our first famous LOTR attraction, a viewpoint looking over The Dead Marshes from an elevated position. At Rainbow Reach a cable bridge over the Waiau River (known as The River Anduin in LOTR) leads us into the forest and Kepler Track. 5. Lake Manapouri - Gateway to the Doubtful Sounds, explore the shores of this crystal-clear lake and hearing about its history including the construction of the Manapouri hydro dam, the largest in the country. Then have a quick break at a local coffee shop. 6. Mavora Lakes - Next we make our way to one of the most famous LOTR sights and hidden gems of the region, Mavora Lakes. Enjoy free time to explore, eat lunch or act out some LOTR scenes! 7. Te Anau - We return to Te Anau to check you into your accommodation and free time for the afternoon. Day 2 8. Fiordland National Park - Visit Eglington Valley, Mirror Lakes, Lake Gunn, Hollyford River, Falls Creek, the Darran Mountains and Homer Tunnel on the way to Milford Sound. 9. Milford Sound - Board your cruise with Cruise Milford, TripAdvisors No. 1 Cruise operator in Milford Sound. Offering a boutique cruise on a smaller, less crowded boat and with a crew that gives an informative and personal tour, this tour brings you closer to wildlife and nature. Unbeatable 10. Mitre Peak - While on the boat cruise you will be able to marvel at the awe-inspiring Mitre Peak, the iconic Milford Sound mountain. 11. Pop's View Lookout, Te Anau and Queenstown - - After your cruise, do not fear the adventure is not over, there is the return journey with many more amazing stops.

Franz Josef: 3-Hour Kayak Tour on Lake Mapourika

6. 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.

Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

7. Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

Join your guide as you kayak during sunset to experience the stunning glow of the seaward-facing Kaikoura Mountains. Have the chance to watch seals dive and maneuver around and under your kayak as the sunsets. Paddle with them as they swim around the peninsula hunting for octopus. Along the way keep an eye out for blue penguins or albatross and have a possible encounter with dusky dolphins. Your kayak is enclosed, safe, stable, and easily steered using a rudder. It's fast on the water, but still keeps you warm and dry. Your qualified and experienced local guide will teach you how to handle the kayak and paddle you through areas used years ago by local Maori and early whalers. Enjoy watching the light change as the day draws to an end.

Queenstown: Kayaking or SUP Experience on Moke Lake

8. 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.

Akaroa: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

9. Akaroa: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

Discover the award-winning Wildside of Banks Peninsula and its unique fauna and flora on this 24-hour tour.  Start your adventure in a four-weel drive mini-bus from Akaroa and travel over the crater rim of the ancient Akaroa volcano to the Akaroa Head Lighthouse. Marvel at the scenic reserve that stands on high cliffs and take in the views of the endless Pacific ocean.  Enjoy a self-guided bush walk through Tutakakahikura scenic reserve, an ancient forest with 400 years old native trees to finally arrive at Pohatu marine reserve where you will spend the night. Settle down and use the time to relax. Enjoy safe swimming beaches before your evening penguin tour in season.  The following day you can go on an additional adventure if you would like. Join the sea-kayaking safari and discover the wildlife of the Pohatu marine reserve. See New Zealand fur seals, many species of sea-birds, and the frequent visit of Hector's dolphins. The tour runs from midday to midday but specific departure times can be arranged.

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.

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What people are saying about South Island

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 35 reviews

As a family of 4 adults we thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Staff without exception were wonderful and the great provided by the operator was very good. The setting was truly beautiful, even the rain we experienced on the funyak portion of our day only added to our memories of a day well spent.

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

Great outing with a good experience of the different settings from misty to clear sky and a Shalom settings with such quietness in an open lake that is unbelievable experience.

What a beautiful place for an afternoon of kayaking! Miles was great and the crew had absolutely everything we need for kayaking (right down to shoes!).

My young adults love the kayaking tour. Wonderful, beautiful and the experience of such peaceful quietness is unbelieveable.