Canoeing VS Kayaking: What’s the Difference? | Canoe Safaris
What’s the difference between a kayak and a canoe? We discuss the key differences and explore why a canoe is perfect for exploring New Zealand’s waterways.
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.
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 manoeuvrability. Typically, but not always, they have a closed-top design, meaning the paddler sits inside the boat with the kayak covering their legs.
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.
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 manoeuvrability 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 manoeuvre and quicker over short distances. This greater manoeuvrability 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.
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.
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
to some groups who profile as suitable and capable, however we focus on our
on either the
– 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.
peaceful, primal, professional, Challenging, adrenalin - I experienced all of these on a three day trip down the Whanganui river with a group of 18 people and two amazing guides - Simon and Aiden. These guys worked tirelessly to ensure we were kept safe and well fed and were happy to share their...
SIMPLY SENSATIONAL. Just completed the 3 day trip. Our guides Wilson and Gregor were fantastic. Cool, clear, calm (even when I tipped the wife out of our canoe). Always felt safe, always felt informed. The food was sensational. From the time we were greeted to the time we departed, I was very...
Warren J, Christchurch, NZ
Did the 3-day guided canoe trip down the Whanganui river with Phil and Simon as our guides. Even though all of us were first-time canoeists and a few of us were non-swimmers, they looked after us very well and were amazing at teaching us the skills we needed to keep ourselves safe. The...
We were part of a group of 8 friends doing the 3 day trip with Phil and Wai as guides. They were both terrific and very organised. Phil is excellent explaining how to manoeuvre through the rapids and the safety control was first class.
A couple of good mates decided we'd do this trip some time ago and Canoe Safari's helped make it happen. Alex, Bailey, Lesley and Canon our guides / hosts were absolutely amazing. Scenery was stunning - seems like little has changed on the landscape in hundreds of years... still...
Absolutely amazing experience with Canoe safaris! We did a 4-day canoe trip in the Whanganui river with Canoe safaris. Our guides, Phil and Ian are highly experienced, professional and helpful. Almost everything we need were provided, including tent, 3-meals everyday plus snacks, life jacket,...
I would like to thank Mike, Stefan and Sophie for a great rafting experience on the Mohaka River. They were all such fun, very experienced and wonderful chefs too. Certainly a fantastic holiday and one to be recommended. So a big thank you for making it happen.
Had the most enjoyable trip in my life. Took the 4 day canoe safari down the Wanganui river. We thoroughly enjoyed it, couldn't have asked for better guides, Erin and Jordan. Their knowledge and expertise was invaluable. The scenery was out of this world, at times we felt as though no one...
This was the best family trip ever! Three course meals, a wealth of knowledge from our awesome guides, and no devices, were just three reasons we would highly recommend this adventure. Phil and Simon were amazing guides and worked from the moment we were collected for our trip to the moment we...
We did the 5 day, fully guided and catered river journey, with our four children and three other families. This was truly one of the best holidays we have ever had. Phil and Ian, our guides, organised every detail. It was enormous fun canoeing down the river, jumping off rocks and canyoning. We...