New Zealand is known for its stunning natural landscapes, and what better way to explore them than by stand up paddle board? With its abundance of lakes, rivers, and coastlines, New Zealand offers an array of paddle boarding opportunities for everyone.
From the turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands to the picturesque scenery of Lake Wanaka, the country boasts some of the most beautiful destinations and best places to paddle board in the world. You can find remote paddle boarding spots across both the North Island and the South Island, along with some popular hotspots offering more of a social scene.
In this guide, we take a look at the 15 best places to paddle board in New Zealand. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddler, there is sure to be a location on this list that will inspire your next adventure or get your daydreams flowing. So grab your paddle boards and get ready to discover the natural beauty of New Zealand from a unique perspective.
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NZ’s North Island is a paddler's paradise, with an abundance of lakes, rivers, and coastlines waiting to be explored. From the bustling city of Auckland to the serene waters of Lake Taupo, there is a diverse range of paddle boarding opportunities for all skill levels.
So whether you are looking to explore volcanic landscapes or relax on pristine beaches, the North Island has something for everyone. What are you waiting for? Grab your touring paddle boards and have an adventure of a lifetime.
Lake Taupo is one of the most popular places to stand up paddle board in New Zealand, and for good reason. Located in the center of North Island, this lake offers calm waters and great accessibility. Lake Taupo is an ideal place for beginners to learn how to paddle board.
With several entry points around the lake, it is easy to find a spot to launch your board and start paddling. There are also several paddle board rental companies in the area, making it easy to try paddle boarding even if you don't have your own board yet.
There are a variety of paddle routes to choose from. Whether you are looking for a short paddle along the shoreline or a longer excursion across the lake's various bays to explore the fascinating Maori carvings, there is something for everyone.
Auckland Harbour offers a unique paddle boarding experience with its urban setting and beautiful views of the city skyline. The sheltered waters are manageable even for beginners to take to the waters. And as New Zealand's largest city, Auckland is a bustling hub that makes it easy to access the harbor and rent paddle boards, either from the city or from nearby beaches.
There is so much to explore from Aukland Harbour. With several islands, bays, and coves to explore, Auckland Harbour offers plenty of variety when it comes to paddle routes. Waiheke Island is a must-do route for explorers wanting to test their inflatable paddle boards.
The harbor is also home to several paddling clubs and groups that organize regular events and meet-ups. This is a great way to meet other paddlers and explore new routes.
The Bay of Islands is a stunning area of NZ’s North Island with turquoise waters, secluded bays, and beautiful beaches. There are many hidden coves only accessible by water, perfect for a mid-paddle break to enjoy the peace. While exploring these sub-tropical waters you have to keep your eyes peeled for the large variety of marine life, including dolphins, penguins, and seals.
Due to the remote nature of the Bay of Islands, this spot is probably best left for experienced paddle boarders. You need to be comfortable venturing into deep water and going solo in places. Make sure you pack your phone in a waterproof backpack to snap some photos and stay connected.
Leigh is a sleepy coastal town just north of Aukland and a fantastic place for coastal touring paddle boards. The rocky coastline is popular for diving and snorkeling. The region is home to some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in New Zealand, including Goat Island.
Paddle boarding is an excellent way to explore the natural beauty of Leigh from a unique perspective. It is suitable for intermediate to advanced paddlers who have experience navigating open water. Make sure to check the weather conditions and plan your route carefully before heading out on a coastal touring adventure in Leigh.
Raglan is famous for its world-class surf breaks. It is a great place to try a surf paddle board on one of the smaller days. In addition to the surf breaks, Raglan also has calm waters in the harbor and estuaries, making it an ideal destination for beginners or those looking for a more relaxed paddle.
The community is a vibe with several local paddle board shops, rental companies, and clubs. This makes it easy to rent gear or join in on group paddles. From a paddle board, you can take in all the stunning natural beauty, including rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and a harbor full of marine life.
Coromandel is a picturesque peninsula located on the North Island of New Zealand. The area is home to numerous stunning beaches, bays, and estuaries, making it an ideal location for flatwater and gentle paddle boarding.
If you are looking for a spot to try your yoga paddle board then this is the place for you. The tranquil turquoise water and sheltered bays are perfect for those looking for zen and balance.
Tauranga is a coastal city located in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand and is a great stand up paddle boarding destination. The sheltered harbor provides beautifully calm waters ideal for beginners to learn the basics.
Tauranga is also surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, including Mount Maunganui, Matakana Island, and the Kaimai Ranges. From a paddle board, you get excellent views and a unique perspective. So make sure you have your camera ready! We recommend paddling around Matakana Island and exploring the inner harbor.
Rotorua is the most unusual place to take your paddle board on New Zealand’s North Island. This central region is home to several stunning lakes, including Lake Tarawera and Lake Okareka, which are perfect for paddle boarding. These lakes have crystal-clear waters, and the surrounding natural beauty makes for an unforgettable experience.
Several paddle board rental companies in Rotorua offer rentals and guided tours of the area. Some tours also include opportunities to learn about Maori culture and history. Additionally, there are several paddle routes, ranging from calm lakes to challenging river paddles.
Be sure not to miss the incredible thermal hot springs in the area. Famous for its geothermal activity, the region is home to several stunning thermal lakes, including Lake Tarawera and Lake Okareka. These lakes have crystal-clear waters and are surrounded by stunning natural beauty. And guess what? You can also paddle board them!
Set your alarm early and catch a spectacular sunrise from the water at Gisborne. There are several stunning beaches, including Waikanae Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches for paddle boarding in the region. These beaches offer calm waters and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Known for its surf breaks, Gisborne is also a good place to enjoy the challenge of riding the waves. Or you can try out your paddle boards for rivers on the Waimata and the Waipaoa for something different.
The South Island continues as a paddler's paradise, with stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and a variety of paddle boarding experiences to choose from.
From the rugged coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park to the serene waters of Lake Wanaka, the South Island offers a range of paddling experiences for all skill levels. Explore hidden coves, ride the waves at popular surf spots, and enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the region. NZ’s South Island is a must-visit destination for paddle boarders!
Christchurch is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Banks Peninsula and the Canterbury Plains. Both areas offer paddlers the opportunity to explore hidden coves and scenic waterways, enjoying the stunning views.
The beaches and bays around Christchurch offer calm waters, making it a great destination for novice paddle boarders starting at basics. Sumner Beach and Taylor's Mistake are two popular spots for paddle boarding, due to the flatwater and easy access. Want a bit more of a challenge? Check out the nearby Avon River to explore the city from a unique perspective.
Akaroa is situated on the Banks Peninsula and boasts spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Paddle boarders can explore the scenic bays and coves, enjoying the pristine waters and breathtaking natural beauty of the region. Beginners can enjoy the calm waters while more adventurous paddlers can explore the rocky coastline and go further afield.
There are several paddle board rental and instruction companies in Akaroa, making it easy for visitors to rent equipment and get out on the water. You can also find nighttime paddle board excursions for a truly unique experience.
This park in the South Island has crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches, making it a super popular spot for paddle boarding. Abel Tasman National Park is home to some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in New Zealand, with crystal-clear waters, golden beaches, and lush greenery. Explore the park's stunning coastline, paddle through secluded bays and coves, and enjoy the abundance of marine wildlife, including dolphins and seals.
The waters of Abel Tasman National Park are generally calm and sheltered, making it a great destination for beginner paddle boarders. There are also opportunities for more experienced paddle boarders to ride the waves at some of the park's popular surf spots.
There are several paddle board rental and instruction companies operating in the Abel Tasman National Park, making it easy for visitors to rent equipment and get out on the water. Overall, we have to say Abel Tasman National Park is a must-visit destination for paddle boarders of all levels.
Lake Wanaka is a fantastic place to go stand up paddle boarding in New Zealand. The lake is surrounded by the Southern Alps, which offer a stunning backdrop. The crystal-clear waters of the lake provide an excellent opportunity to explore the water world and enjoy peaceful surroundings.
It is generally calm and sheltered, making it a great destination for novice paddleboarders. However, there are also opportunities for more experienced paddle boarders to explore further up the lake's shoreline and nearby rivers.
If you are searching for the perfect place to stretch out on your yoga paddle boards, then this is the place for you. Surrounded by natural beauty and complete serenity, you are sure to find balance at Lake Wanaka.
Queenstown is a popular tourist destination on the South Island and offers a variety of paddle boarding options, including Lake Wakatipu and the Shotover River. So whether you want an easy paddle on a lake or a more technically challenging ride down a river, there is something for everyone!
The town is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and crystal-clear waters. Lake Wakatipu is generally calm and sheltered, making it a great destination for beginners to enjoy. There are also opportunities for more experienced paddle boarders to explore the lake's shoreline and nearby rivers.
In addition to Lake Wakatipu, several other nearby lakes and rivers offer great a variety of paddle boarding opportunities, including Lake Hayes, Moke Lake, and the Kawarau River.
This beautiful area in the South Island is home to a network of bays, inlets, and coves, offering plenty of opportunities for paddle boarding regardless of experience level. As you explore Malborough Sounds you will be blown away by the stunning scenery, with crystal-clear waters, lush green forests, and mountainous landscapes. Paddle boarding in this area offers a unique way to experience the natural beauty of New Zealand and get up close and personal with the abundant marine wildlife.
The Marlborough Sounds are sheltered and calm, making it a great destination for beginner paddle boarders that want a taste of adventure. However, there are also opportunities for more experienced paddle boarders to explore the sounds and test their skills in different conditions.
Some beginner-friendly paddle boarding spots in New Zealand include Lake Taupo, Auckland Harbour, and the Marlborough Sounds. These locations offer calm waters and easy access for beginners. Head to the more popular locations for a wider range of paddle board rental availability if you do not have your own gear yet.
Some of the most challenging paddle boarding spots in New Zealand include the West Coast of the South Island and the Foveaux Strait. These locations can have rough waters and strong currents, so they're best suited for experienced paddlers. Along with here, the rivers around Christchurch and Queenstown offer some technical challenges.
Always be sure to check water levels and forecasts before heading to these harder paddle boarding locations. And never paddle beyond your skill level.
In New Zealand, it is legally required to wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) while paddle boarding outside of designated swimming areas. This applies to all water activities, including paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing.
It is important to note that wearing a life jacket can greatly increase your safety while paddle boarding, especially if you are in unfamiliar or changing conditions. Even experienced paddle boarders can get into trouble in unexpected situations such as sudden weather changes or equipment failure.
It depends on the location. Some places may have rental options available, while others may require you to bring your equipment. Make sure to research the specific location before you go. Exploring the more remote destinations of New Zealand is best done with an inflatable paddle board to reduce weight.
The best time of year to paddle board in New Zealand is during the summer months, from December to February. However, it's still possible to paddle board year-round, as long as you dress appropriately and take necessary safety precautions. Always check forecasts and remember to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
Yes, there are regulations that vary depending on the location. For example, some areas may have speed limits or require you to wear a lifejacket. Make sure to research the specific regulations for the location you plan to paddle board in.
Paddle boarding in New Zealand is generally safe as long as you take necessary precautions, such as wearing a lifejacket and staying aware of your surroundings. However, it's always important to research the location and weather conditions before heading out.
Yes, children can participate in paddle boarding as long as they are supervised by an adult and wearing appropriate safety equipment. Some locations may have age restrictions or require a certain level of experience, so make sure to research before you go.
It's best to wear comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing and water shoes or sandals. Sun protection is also important, so consider wearing a hat and using sunscreen. Remember to always dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
Yes, it's possible to paddle board with marine wildlife in New Zealand, but be sure to follow guidelines to protect both yourself and the wildlife. Respect the animals' space and avoid disturbing them, and consider taking a guided tour with a knowledgeable guide.
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