Discover the Best Canoe Trips Across New Zealand

Forget the roadie this summer and swap your steering wheel for a paddle. Aotearoa has an abundance of beautiful lakes and rivers; you’re only ever a stone’s throw away from a breathtaking paddling expedition.

Slow life down or dive directly into adventure with the fantastic canoe trips New Zealand offers. Discover our favourite NZ canoeing destinations from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South.

Whanganui River

Well, It goes without saying that Canoe Safaris top choice is Canoeing the Whanganui River! Paddle along New Zealand’s longest navigable river and one of the famous New Zealand Great Walks by exploring the Whanganui River over a 3 Day Journey, a 4 Day Guided Tour or a 5 Day Whanganui Guided Trip. Not for the faint of heart, this multi-day canoe trip takes you twisting and turning throughout the picturesque Whanganui National Park from Taumaranui or Whakahoro in the heart of the North Island, to the finishing point in the historical and fascinating Pipiriki. In an area long forgotten and reclaimed by the landscape, look closely; you’ll see relics left behind by early Māori and European settlers. The calm waters of the Whanganui River are punctuated by challenging rapids awaiting their next challengers, ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy on this canoeing trip. This is a great option for beginners and is generally classed as a bumpy and fun Grade 1 River.

Rangitikei River

Canoeing the Rangitikei River is Canoe Safaris second choice of amazing New Zealand Rivers to paddle (If not joint first with the Whanganui!). We also offer 1 to 4 day guided tours along the exciting Rangitikei River. Beginning in the upper gorge, where rapids can be turbulent and technical, this canoe trip is suited to those after an adventure and are keen to put their canoeing skills to the test. As you navigate rapids, you’ll find it hard to not get distracted and be consumed by tall papa cliff faces of lime and sandstone, with the rounded Whitecliff boulders making an appearance near the end of your trip. On this multi-day river journey, you can look forward to fishing in the clear waters (If you have a license), wild camping, open fires and three-course dinners after a long day of paddling, ensuring you’re re-charged and ready to go the next day. This is a great river for beginner to mid level canoeists with it being a Grade 2-3 River.

Tongariro River

Now this is where the Canoe Safaris Team go to play on their hard earned day off! (Yes, you heard right, we love to canoe on our spare time too!). On top of being a thrilling New Zealand River to paddle, 3 times a year the Rangipo Dam is released which  creates the ultimate playground for the seasoned kayaker, canoeist & all round adventure seeker. Located in Central North Island New Zealand, The Tongariro River is a Grade 3 river and only recommended for experienced paddlers. 

Clarence River

This gem of a New Zealand river is found flowing through the beautiful Kaikoura Mountain ranges on the Northeast of the South Island. Being the 8th longest river in Aotearoa, you will need 5-7 days to fully appreciate and take this journey in. The Clarence river sits on a tectonic plate meaning the landscape and river can change after an earthquake and the Geology in this area is just fascinating. A bonus of canoeing this river is you get to finish up in the picturesque town of Kaikoura.  What better way to finish up your multi day adventure than with a spot of Whale watching and taste some locally caught crayfish.  The Clarence is a Grade 3 River, shallow & braided - best completed with an experienced guide!

Milford Sound

Despite its remote location deep in the South Island, thousands of keen paddlers flock to the dark inky waters of Milford Sound to enjoy one of New Zealand’s premier canoeing trips. Canoeing in Milford Sound will have you calmly drifting through fjords that reflect the snowy peaks of the surrounding mountain ranges and play host to countless gushing waterfalls. The inquisitive nature of the bottlenose dolphins that call this place home may even result in you having company on your journey.

Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough sounds are a must if you have an affinity for all things Tolkien! Fans of the hobbit can disrupt the calm Pelorus river just as Bilbo did, but with fewer barrels and more comfortable canoes. This canoe trip is a must for fantasy film buffs and anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of the South Island like never before. With paddle in hand, be prepared for an unexpected journey!

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the mecca for all things water sports related. On the lake, your options are about as endless as the lake itself. Explore local Māori rock carvings, enjoy volcanic hot pools, or try your hand at a series of turbulent river rapids. Lake Taupo canoe trips have something for everyone. Come see for yourself!

See Aotearoa Like Never Before!

There are so many others that we haven’t had time to mention! The Clutha, The Mohaka, The Rangitaiki, The Mighty Waikato,..the list just goes on and with so many canoe trips to choose from in New Zealand, the hardest part is making a decision! Whether you want a lazy cruise or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, we have the trip for you at Canoe Safaris. For 

Whanganui canoe hires and guided tours and more information on canoeing the Whanganui River and Rangitikei Rivers as they are our speciality, get in touch today. 

Posted by Canoe Safaris on March 25, 2023