Whilst staying on a picturesque island with beaches and rock caves un-accessible via foot or road, and ocean filled with beautiful sea-life, what better way to explore these surroundings than with a kayak!
In collaboration with Kayak Waiheke, we were lucky enough to be able to spend a few hours paddling around the secluded bay’s of Waiheke, stopping for lots of photo opportunities, beach fun, and a bite to eat of course!
We had our eyes set on two beautiful bright yellow kayaks, that we noticed sitting along the be ach when we arrived to Waiheke via ferry a week earlier. These kayaks, along with many many more, belong to Ross, the owner and adventure lover of Kayak Waiheke.
We contacted Ross via email letting him know that we were keen to head out on his kayak’s, and he encouraged us to come on down to his headquarters near the Matiatia wharf to meet with him.
We woke up early, the sun was shining, the ocean looked like glass, and the air relatively still with only a light breeze - perfect kayaking conditions!
Off we went to catchup with Ross, and despite his business not being officially open for the summer season just yet, he couldn’t have been more happy to help us out and set-us up with two of his wonderful expedition sea-kayaks. We explained to Ross that we were wanting to see as much of the island as possible during our half-a-day adventure. Taking into consideration the tide, current, and wind-direction, Ross helped tailor a route for us to follow, and assured us that we would not be disappointed with the views, wildlife, and landscapes to see, explore, and photograph.
After fitting us up with funky life jackets (Kirk scored one with lots of pockets for go-pro’s and snacks whilst Mish found one in her favourite colour, green!), we were given a quick run-down of utilising the Kayaks and getting the most of our trip, and off we paddled, big grins on our faces!
As soon as we paddled out of the main bay and wharf area (which only took around 5-10 minutes), we were instantly in an isolated paradise.
Two humans, two kayaks, thousands of wildlife above and beneath, the sunshine, blue skies, beaches before us, beautiful ocean below.
The ocean being so calm, it wasn’t long until we had made our way to our first little pit-stop, a secluded beach that was around 50 metres wide, only accessible by boat.
We pulled up along the shore where we sat and soaked up the sunshine and view, our toes in the water, the sea-birds singing us songs.. We could’ve stayed and enjoyed the serenity here all day long. We chatted about how awesome it would be to come back some day with a group of friends, paddle out to the beach, bring lots of food, drinks, & spend the weekend here, even setting up a campsite, fire & toasted marshmallows come dawn.. Maybe next time hey!? But it was time to head back out to the ocean & continue our paddling expedition!
“Penguins!” - after another ten minutes of hugging the bay, Kirk spotted a black and white little penguin, swimming along the top of the ocean. We were now on a penguin-searching mission! We kayaked out a little further, and there we spotted a few more little guys, just graciously making their way through the waters beside us, but much too quick for us to snap any photos of them unfortunately.
Ross had drawn our route out for us on a map, and marked spots of interest - one being “an archway” - we didn’t know what to expect, but we had our eyes peeled and on the lookout as he had told us that it can be easily missed.
Just when we were ready to turn back the way we came, Mish started to kayak towards a little beach that she eyed out.. and then there it was! A large rock which had been eroded by wind and ocean, an archway has formed just before the shoreline, which we were able to paddle through and around, the gateway to yet another beautiful & small remote beach - we had finally found our lunch spot.
We pulled up onto the shell beach, and before we could even pull out our sandwiches, Kirk was already up and climbing the archway of rocks. Unluckily it was low tide, which meant that we were unable to jump from the top, but could enjoy the views all the same :) But be careful of the oysters when climbing down - they wouldn’t be too friendly on the feet if you weren’t wearing any shoes!
After many enjoyable hours of sunshine, and our exposed skin a shade or two darker, dark clouds made their way in-front of the sun & we felt the wind start to pick-up.. We decided that this was our cue to venture back to base.
As purposefully intended, our kayak back to Ross’s was an easy and pleasant one as we ventured out wide towards the ocean, and let the wind and current of the waters guide us back - but still a great arms and abs workout all the same!
Once we arrived back to kayak headquarters, Ross was there to greet us & keen to hear about our morning. We were thankful for his recommendations, and couldn’t have had more of a blast on his kayaks.
We stayed and chatted for a while, and learnt more about Kayak Waiheke, which is more than just a business, but a base in a perfect location for anyone of any age to have the opportunity to have a great time!
For a bucket load of fun, there are hire options such as stand up paddle boards (which we were lucky enough to jump on later that afternoon), a massive water trampoline (which can fit up to 20 people on it at one time!), and human hamster balls.
For the more adventurous, there are a number of different kayak hire options, some being guided, and also the option to venture out for sunrise or sunset.
What really made our kayaking experience a memorable one, was the charming and personalised service that complimented our trip. We learnt about the history of Kayak Waiheke which has been trading here for 30 years. We learnt that Ross was the first person to introduce an adventure company on this island, that he built the first double sea-kayak in New Zealand (as pictured, the white one in the middle), and we learnt that there are up to 20 different species of mammals, including dolphins and orca whales, that will come and join you playfully straight into the harbour.
Thank you Ross for an absolute ripper of a day - a true highlight of our time spent in Waiheke, and one that we will recommend to our friends and other travellers as our opinion of the most enjoyable way to explore the wildlife and hidden beauty of this incredible island!