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In addition to walking, biking and climbing, kayaking is another great option for intrepid exploration of the amazing West Coast, New Zealand. Rated as one of the top 5 kayaking destinations in the world, there are an abundance of rivers, lakes, caves and coastal areas suitable for paddling independently or with the help of a eco-tour company. For something a little different, see the West Coast by kayak with these popular canoeing trips.
Glacier Country Kayaks
The half day kayak tours offered by Glacier Country Kayaks provide the greatest panoramic views of Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and 14 glaciers including the famous Frans Josef. Enjoy a morning tour over Lake Mapourika while the waters are calm and the air is fresh; for a little more adventure, the afternoon tours take place in slightly choppier waters. In addition to mountains and glaciers, the tour also offers fantastic views of rugged native bush, exploration of the Kiwi sanctuary and many opportunities to witness native wildlife. During the trip your experienced guides will endeavor to ensure your eco-tour is safe, informative and a highlight of your trip to the west coast.
Okarito Nature Tours
The Okarito nature eco-tour is suitable for those with no kayaking experience and is great for kids. It takes place on the shallow, open waters of the Okarito Lagoon which is famous for it’s abundance of bird life with over 70 species present on and around the lagoon at any given time. Enjoy watching glorious Heron’s and Spoonbill’s feed as you are surrounded with amazing shrub-lands and forest. Take a step back in time as you paddle down each river channel which boasts untouched rainforest, native bird calls and fabulous examples of New Zealand flora. Kayaking on a clear day will also offer views of the Southern Alps and Mount Cook.
Opara Basin Kayak Tours
The Opara Basin tours take place between December and April when Blue Duck breeding season is over and river conditions are optimal. Seen on the trip is some of the most impressive limestone formations New Zealand has to offer, with various walls, cakes, peaks and cliff faces. As the trip continues participants can admire the surrounding bush, which is luscious and bursting with beautiful native birds, flora and fauna. The kayaking trip will lead you to the Honeycomb Hill Caves & Arch which has been made world famous for it’s astounding collection of Moa bones. This tour is only available via a permitted and experienced guide and is suitable for beginner, through to experienced kayakers.
One of the most popular independent kayaking spots is Grey River in Greymouth. This historic area provides kayakers of varied levels with a fabulous trip filled with amazing landscape, racing waters and flourishing wildlife. The further you get up the river, the more challenging the waters are, making kayaking on the Grey River perfect for those looking for adventure! Enjoy stunning gorges, racing rapids, phenomenal scenery and beautiful river banks as you navigate your way through the windy river way - Be prepared to get wet!
There are many other scenic rivers, lakes and streams that can be explored via kayak independently. Always be sure to check the river grade, layout and conditions before entering any waterway. Kayaking is a peaceful, yet adventurous way to explore the untouched paradise known as the West Coast - Enjoy!
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