At Kaiteretere Beach, near the top of the South Island, Waka Abel Tasman will offer you an on-the-water experience like no other, that showcases one of the most beautiful coasts in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise – but have you tried it from a double-hulled canoe in the middle of a stunning bay? 

Husband and wife duo Lee-Anne and Todd Jago founded Waka Abel Tasman as a way to share their Māori culture and values with visitors, as well as their love of the ocean. Whether it’s a sunrise journey or at a more polite hour, the experience they offer is so much more than just paddling out onto the water. 

Nelson Tasman
Waka Abel Tasman, Kaiteretere, Nelson Tasman

A cultural experience like no other

Along with their guides, Lee-Anne and Todd share karakia (incantations) and other rituals of engagement that demonstrate the close bonds between Māori and the natural world. After you leave, you’ll even be able to introduce yourself in the Māori language

Leanne and Todd are not descendents from the local tribal groups, Ngāti Rarua(opens in new window) and Te Ātiawa, but they have been given permission to share the stories of this remarkable area’s history, as you paddle together around the unique coastline. 

On your way to Ngaio Island, your guide will teach you a haka – a simple call and response chant to announce your approach to Toka Ngāwhā. This huge, impossibly round boulder emerges from a small island of rocks, and has been split straight down the middle (hence it’s less lovely English name, Split Apple Rock). Although it’s easy to imagine one of the ancient gods blasting it asunder, in fact, a weakend seam that has eroded over many centuries is the cause.  

At many points on your journey, your guide will blow the pūmoana – a great conch shell. It’s a moving sound that carries along the wind and speaks to a beautiful, primal part of your spirit. 

You’ll alight at a nearby beach for a snack and to stretch the legs. Typical of the area (such as neighbouring Golden Bay), the gleaming, golden-yellow sand will put you in mind of idyllic tropical beaches more commonly seen in the Pacific Islands. 

Nelson Tasman
Waka Abel Tasman, Kaiteretere, Nelson Tasman

All ages, all abilities

The great thing about Waka Abel Tasman is that no experience is necessary and they cater for all ages. They even have smaller paddles for your little ones. This is what working together on a waka is all about – everyone supporting each other to reach your destination. 

The fresh ocean air and the togetherness you’ll feel with your fellow paddlers leave you feeling warm both physically and spiritually. Not only that, your visit helps Lee-Anne and Todd with their work in the community, teaching young people about water skills, their Māori language and the area’s rich cultural history. 

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