Author Archives: Phillip Collins

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Why Canoeing is Great for Family Getaways | Canoe Safaris

Posted by Phillip Collins on June 09, 2022


Why a Guided Canoe Holiday is Perfect for the Whole Family


There’s no better way to get out on the water and away from it all than a Guided Canoe holiday. Canoeing is an excellent outdoor adventure for the whole family. Leaving the everyday hustle and bustle behind, canoeing is a great way to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with your loved ones. Here we discuss why you should be packing paddles for your next family trip.

Beginner Friendly

For those of you that feel like a fish out of water when on the water, a canoe is a great beginner-level activity and gateway into other water sports. The large design of canoes makes it more difficult than Kayaks to tip over, and with our expert tuition and guidance on our multiday tours, we ensure even the least experienced paddler can pick up the skills, and enjoyment of a Wilderness Canoeing Experience.

Never paddled a day in your life? No problem!  With our guidance and instruction, it only takes about 30 minutes to learn the basics of how to paddle a canoe. We like to break the roles into two, as the rear paddler will dictate the direction; the front paddler will be responsible for most of the power and momentum. With a little bit of practice and a lot of teamwork, any family is more than capable of learning how to paddle canoes along our Whanganui River.

It Won’t Break the Bank

When compared to other once in a lifetime adventure holidays, Canoeing the Whanganui River is a relatively inexpensive summer activity making it ideal for families that want a one-of-a-kind experience without breaking the bank. Unless you plan on making canoeing a staple in your summer holidays, there is no need to purchase your own equipment, instead rental shops are never far from any large body of water or river. Guided canoe tours offer hiring options for your second holiday with us at affordable prices, like our Whanganui canoe hires.

Discover new Worlds

Experience New Zealand’s waterways like you never have before. Reaching into nooks and crannies larger boats cannot reach, traveling by canoe will show you spaces and places you may have seen before but never from this angle. After living in London for two years, I will never forget my first Canoe trip through the city on a Canoe, the perspective was a revelation as I saw more things with a differing view and after over 200 trips on the Whanganui River, I still see something new every time.  If your family loves nature or you’re trying to instill an appreciation for the natural world, there is no better way to do so than with one of our Guided Canoeing trips as you can connect the path of water from the Mountains to the Sea, the relationship between river, bank, rainforest and all the wildlife that calls this fascinating and unique ecosystem home! 

Reconnect with the Family

Getting out onto the water is an excellent way for the family to unplug. Tell the teens and tweens to put their phones on flight mode and tuck them into the dry bag, as they are now just expensive cameras. This is usually a hard sell, but the risk of getting them wet makes it an easy decision. Disconnecting from our devices, even for a short time, makes it easier to focus on each other and enjoy time together. The rhythmic motion of the paddling and the teamwork required makes for a potent cocktail of relaxation and bonding for the whole family.  We have seen great outcomes for families working, laughing and paddling together out here. 

Explore New Zealand like Never Before

If you’re looking for a fun family trip, the search is over! Canoe holidays are a fantastic way to reconnect with each other and the world around you. Whether you’re a group of beginners, a company of budding adventurers, or experienced paddlers, Canoe Safaris New Zealand have something for you. Get in touch with our team today and book your next adventure.

Canoeing VS Kayaking: What’s the Difference? | Canoe Safaris

Posted by Phillip Collins on May 20, 2022


Canoeing VS Kayaking: What’s the Difference?


Despite the fact that many use the two words interchangeably, there are actually clear differences between a kayak and a canoe. The boats are different. The gear is different. The way they are used is different. But few know what those differences actually are. Our aim is to explore these differences in detail and explain why a canoe is a perfect vessel for exploring New Zealand’s waterways.



Difference in Design


Canoes tend to be much heavier than kayaks, with a wide frame and an open-top design akin to a rowboat. The spacious design allows for multiple passengers to sit on bench seats and can hold a lot of additional gear. They are considered Expedition craft, more suited to longer journeys. 


Kayaks are smaller, nimble boats designed for speed and maneuverability. Typically, but not always, they have a closed-top design, meaning the paddler sits inside the boat with the kayak covering their legs.



Row Row Row Your Boat


Since canoes tend to be a lot heavier than kayaks; paddling them requires a good deal more effort. In fact, paddling a canoe will more often than not require two people since the boat is larger and the paddles are shorter and have only a single blade.  More effort does not mean more hard work though, as using good Canoe paddle techniques, and teamwork makes them a really enjoyable -and responsive – watercraft. 


Paddling a kayak, on the other hand, is far more straightforward. The paddles have two blades, one on each end, and since kayaks aren’t typically as wide or as heavy – meaning less cargo - a single person can easily operate a kayak, and this makes it instinctively easier for a novice, or solo paddler. 



Don’t Rock the Boat


A canoe’s wider hull allows for greater stability on the water, ensuring that even the most inexperienced paddlers can stay dry. This security does come at the cost of some short-term maneuverability and acceleration, so don’t expect to be setting record times through the rapids anytime soon in a canoe however, over longer distances they become invaluable.


Kayaks are far smaller and lighter, making them easier to maneuver and quicker over short distances. This greater maneuverability comes at the cost of less stability and higher chances of taking an unwanted dip in the river. The initial learning curve for using a kayak is much simpler than a canoe, and you can get away with less technique.



Canoes and Kayaks – What are they Good for?


Both kayaks and canoes can be used for a wide range of activities — but each does carry certain benefits. It can be helpful to think of a kayak as a sports car and a canoe as the minivan of the paddling world. Kayaks are better suited to big rapids or ocean and estuary trips, Whereas canoes are better suited for those looking for longer expedition style trips over multiple days, down a winding river with the family.


Experience New Zealand Like Never Before


Now that you know how to tell the difference between a kayak and a canoe, you will also be able to choose the best boat for your next adventure. Why not make that next adventure a trip down the Whanganui River? At Canoe Safaris, we do offer Whanganui canoe hire to some groups who present as suitable and capable, however we focus on our all-inclusive guided tours on either the Whanganui River or the Rangitikei River– just bring your sleeping bag and personal items, we do the rest.  Come and experience New Zealand like never before with Canoe Safaris New Zealand!

Discover the Whanganui River History | Canoe Safaris

Posted by Phillip Collins on May 05, 2022


Long and Winding History of the Whanganui River


Time stands still on the Whanganui River. On the river, you are slicing through a storied past that reaches back hundreds of years, from Taumarunui through the deep gorges of Whanganui National Park, until bush-covered hills fall into the sea at the town of Whanganui.


In this blog post, we float through the Whanganui River’s history, spanning back to the first people discovering it, through colonial times right up into modern history, painting a vivid picture of one of New Zealand’s most unique rivers.



Tamatea, Captain of the Takitimu


The Whanganui River was initially discovered around 1350 when Tamatea, captain of the T?kitimu canoe, brought some of the first Polynesian migrants to the island. Ever since, the Whanganui Iwi have lived by, travelled on, and drawn sustenance from the river.


Tamatea named many famous locations still seen along the river today, such as Te Punga where he cast anchor, Tangahoe where he cut paddles, and Tamatea’s Cave, where he sought shelter.



Early Maori Settlements


The river once sheltered a large population of M?ori settlements. The river's low gradient and straightforward navigability, along with suitable defensive locations for fortified 'pa,' led to the formation of many villages along its lengths. Remnants of early M?ori influence can still be seen as you traverse the ancient waters of the Whanganui.



The Plaited Rope of Hinengakau


In time, the river became linked by a series of p?, called ‘the plaited rope of Hinengakau’. This name symbolises the unity of the Whanganui River people and refers to the children of Tamakehu and the three major settlements. Hineng?kau of the upper river, Tama ?poko of the middle, and T?poho of the lower Whanganui. Throughout time, custodianship of the river has been passed down to the descendants of these three siblings.



European Influence


The arrival of European missionaries in the 1840s had an immense impact on the river. Steamboats started taking over the river as settlers used it for transport. Many locals began to convert to Christianity, and chapels began to dot the banks of the Whanganui River, many of which still stand today.



Becoming a Person


In more modern history, Whanganui made waves across the globe in 2017 by becoming the first river to be recognised as a person. As a result, the river can now be represented in court situations, treaty negotiations, and other disputes. Decisions that affect the Whanganui River must now recognise its health and well-being under its new legal status as a person.  Whanganui’s legal personhood is a landmark ruling, a hopeful step in the right direction concerning the way we view our natural world.



Experience the History of Whanganui First-hand


Every twist, turn, and rapid along the Whanganui River tells a story, peaking back into the past while offering a hopeful visage for the future of our natural world. If you want to learn first-hand what this river has to offer, a Whanganui River journey guided tour is the ideal way to do it. Book your trip back to the past with Canoe Safaris.

The Essentials you need for your canoe trip

Posted by Phillip Collins on February 25, 2022

The Essentials You Need for Your Canoe Trip 

Looking to go on an exciting river trip but don’t know how to get started and what you will need? Canoe Safaris provides guided tours that take a lot of the stress out of planning a canoe trip. There are however some essentials that you should bring along with you even on our guided tours! We go over some essentials that you should pack for your canoe trip.


A Variety of Clothes 

A good range of clothing is essential for safety and comfort during your stay on your Whanganui River Trip. Weather in New Zealand can be temperamental and being around water poses the threat of getting a bit damp, so it’s wise to pack waterproof clothing and clothing backups.


Swimwear, shorts, poly props, light long pants, hat, waterproof jacket, woolen socks, gloves, campsite casual clothes, and comfortable shoes are all things you should look to bring on your trip. For a comprehensive list of clothing, check out our What to Bring guide.



On your Canoe Safaris guided Whanganui River trips, we take care of keeping you fed throughout the exciting journey. We cater three meals a day, including three course dinners and provide plenty of snacks to graze on during the day in between meals.  This takes the stress off you lugging around cooking equipment all trip long, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the natural experience.


However if you have some particular “favourites” it can be a good idea to pack some for a quick pick-me-up when needed on the trip.



The New Zealand sunshine is significantly different to sunshine in other parts of the globe. New Zealand’s sunburn time can sometimes be as low as 7 minutes! Don’t get caught unaware and ruin the trip with a nasty sunburn. Bring a bottle of high SPF (marine friendly) sunscreen to apply in the mornings and several times throughout the day.


Make sure to check the brands and reviews of your sunblock as well, as some sunscreen manufacturers have been found to provide insufficient protection against New Zealand’s harsh rays.


Bug Spray 

Being out in nature is a beautiful and soul-filling experience but it also comes with a few easily solvable downsides. Bugs, sandflies, and mosquitoes can be a nuisance at times for the unprepared. Pack some spray-on or roll-on insect repellent that can be applied when you go through or stay in a spot with more bugs than usual.


Sleeping Kit 

We provide you with high quality tents and superior inflating sleeping mats on our guided trips already, so all you need to bring is a high-quality sleeping bag. A sleeping bag that packs down small but is also thick enough to keep you warm will be best, as you want to travel light and sleep comfortably. For night-time, you should also bring a headlamp or a torch for finding things in the dark. A good book can also enhance the experience, giving your mind some stimulation before heading to bed.


Physical preparation 

Whatever your fitness levels, there are a number of ways to prepare specifically for a canoe trip.  Below are links to some easy movements that once repeated, will build your endurance, and performance for multi day tours. 

Shoulder rotations

Torso rotations

Swiss ball sitting

Back stretches

Sitting to standing


Book a Guided River Tour Today 

Book your Whanganui River trip today to be guided through one of New Zealand’s most pristine natural and historical environments. Our guides are knowledgeable and friendly, ready to make your trip one to remember.

We pride ourselves on being able to teach anyone the correct canoe skills and techniques to get you not just down the river, but in a more relaxed and competent style so your muscles can enjoy building on them the next day.  Mult-day options are available so that you can make the most of your time in the area. Experience New Zealand at its best.