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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!

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.