The 9 Best Paddle Boarding Spots In New Zealand (Bring Your Dog!)
New Zealand is a fantastic country to enjoy paddleboarding. Over the past year, stand-up paddleboard (SUP) sales have doubled as more and more people have discovered the benefits of this popular new sport. And New Zealand’s sparkling lakes, long stretches of pristine coastline, and many islands provide perfect destinations for keen paddleboarders.
If you’re thinking of buying a stand-up paddleboard, or already enjoy the sport, here’s a list of 9 spectacular spots for paddleboarding in New Zealand.
#1. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island, off the north-eastern coast of the North Island, is famous for its huge number of successful and popular vineyards. But it’s also an island surrounded by 25 miles of beaches and tranquil inlets perfect for paddleboarding.
In 2016, Lonely Planet rated Waiheke Island the 5th-best region to visit in the world. Waiheke is sunnier than the rest of Auckland and boasts warm summers and mild winters. It’s a great destination for hikers, especially the Onetangi Reserve with its giant kauri trees and abundant birdlife.
#2. Lake Rotorua
Lake Rotorua and nearby Blue Lake are great places to take your stand-up paddleboard. Rotorua sits in the crater of a large volcano in the North Island. After its last eruption 240,000 years ago, the volcano’s magma chamber collapsed forming the Rotorua Caldera.
There are several other volcanic lakes in the area surrounding Mount Tarawera, which is an active volcano. Around Lake Rotorua, you can also see stunning waterfalls, geysers, and hot mud pools.
#3. Abel Tasman
Calm stretches of coastline alongside the Abel Tasman National Park at the north end of the South Island are perfect for paddleboarding. The park is famous for its golden beaches, lush forest, and bird sanctuaries.
The park is noted for its wildlife. You can enjoy hiking along the popular Abel Tasman Coast Track and see herons, terns, gulls, penguins, and shags. Or you can head inland on the Abel Tasman Inland Track and watch out for deer, goats, wild pigs, and possums.
#4. Akaroa Bay
Akaroa on the east coast of the South Island is the most unique place for paddleboarding in New Zealand. If you paddleboard at night on lit stand-up paddleboards, you’ll see underwater plants, stingrays, eels, and exotic fish.
Akaroa is a popular resort town. Many visitors flock there hoping to spot, or even swim alongside, dolphins in Akaroa Harbor.
The small town of Whangamata in the North Island is popular for its two safe ocean beaches and many visible off-shore islands. Clark Island, also known as Hauturu, can be reached by foot at low tide and is loved by people who enjoy exploring marine rockpools.
A particularly interesting island less than a mile from the beach is Whenuakura, also known as Donut Island. You can paddleboard into this hollow island through a natural archway, and there’s a peaceful beach inside the island.
#6. Poor Knights Islands
These islands are found off the northern tip of the North Island. The islands are a wildlife reserve, both for marine and land animals. But their most interesting feature is a large number of rock arches and sea caves that you can explore on your stand-up paddleboard.
One of these sea caves, Rikoriko Cave, is the largest cave by volume in the world. Its opening is large enough for you to enter by paddleboard.
#7. Tasman Lake
Tasman Lake is a glacial lake in the South Island and one of the natural wonders found in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Looming over the lake, you’ll see Aoraki, which is New Zealand’s tallest mountain. Tasman Lake is fed by a glacier running down from the mountains in the park, so you’ll sometimes see icebergs floating in the water.
Although there are restrictions over how close you can go to the head of the glacier, boat tours among the icebergs are popular. And it is possible to paddleboard through the icy water, as a recent Daily Mail article shows.
#8. Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui is a large lava dome looming over a suburb of Tauranga. Visitors love to climb “The Mount”, but it’s the marine life and hidden beaches that attract many paddleboarders to this beautiful area.
The volcano is situated on a sand bar linking the volcano to the mainland. This means that paddleboarders benefit from both an ocean beach and a harbor beach only a short distance away from one another.
#9. Lake Taupo
You can’t mention paddleboarding destinations in New Zealand without touching on Lake Taupo in the North Island. It’s the largest lake in New Zealand and also close to Huka Falls, the largest and most visited waterfalls in the country.
Paddleboarding across Lake Taupo enables you to see the amazing Mauri rock carvings on the lakeside cliffs, which are inaccessible by land. Much like Lake Rotorua, Lake Taupo sits in a caldera.
Grab a SUP and start paddling!
Now you know about all these wonderful lakes and beaches in New Zealand where you can paddleboard, what are you waiting for? Paddleboarding if fun for people of all ages and beneficial for your health.