All you need to know about kayaking

Read this helpful information to prepare for a wonderful time with us.

With local knowledge of tidal and weather conditions, your guide designs each day around your interests and abilities, taking care of your comfort and safety, with all the training you need.

Click here for our Kayak Trip Finder.

Useful tips to find the trip to suit your interests and abilities.

How hard is sea kayaking?

The Abel Tasman is renowned for its protected coastline but it is impossible to guarantee the conditions. When sea and weather are calm, sea kayaking is easy and very little skill or strength is required. However, due to the nature of the outdoors we are not always going to get favourable weather. It might be necessary at times to paddle against the wind to the nearest beach.

Our qualified guides provide full training and, if their instructions are followed, kayaking is safe and fun. Our boat crew provides full back-up so if kayaking becomes too difficult through the day you can leave your kayak at a beach and walk or take the boat. Double kayaks are used for stability, enjoyment and the advantage of having two people sharing the paddling effort.

What is included?

All the latest kayak gear:

  • Stable double kayak
  • Spray jacket
  • Buoyancy aid
  • Dry bags for spare clothing and camera gear but please note we cannot guarantee to keep sensitive electronic equipment dry
  • Maximum 8 people per Guide

What should I wear?

We enjoy glorious weather, summer and winter. Temperatures can be crisp in the mornings and cool in late afternoon with summer sea breezes. Bring a warm layer of wool or polar fleece to keep you warm when you stop for a break.  We provide a spray jacket and buoyancy vest that will keep you warm on most days when paddling. Bring a spare set of clothing and warm layer to be stored in the kayak so you can change into dry gear if necessary. Always bring some shoes you can walk in, in case weather causes you to land on a beach where some walking might be necessary.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Cotton clothing (especially denim) is very heavy and cold if it gets wet, and takes a long time to dry. Thermal, quick-dry fabrics are best eg. Polypropylene, polar fleece, wool.

Is it necessary to wear shoes in the kayak?

Footwear in the kayak is optional. Many people find it more comfortable to wear some foot cover to prevent their heels rubbing against the kayak. Rubber water socks or sport sandals are ideal. Some people just wear thick socks but be aware that any foot gear will get wet.  Always take some light walking shoes that can be stored in a dry bag in case some walking is necessary.

Is there an age age limit?

No maximum age limit. If you're keen, we will take you kayaking.
Minimum Age is determined by kayak safety regulations for guided groups.
For enclosed water kayaking, Kaiteriteri Highlights, minimum age 8 years.
For Split Apple Paddle, minimum age 10 years.
For all other open water and overnight kayak trips, minimum age is 12 years.
The minimum age can be lowered for privately guided groups. The final decision on minimum age will be at the discretion of the Guide after assessment of the child's abilities.

Independent vs Guided Sea Kayaking

To ensure your safety and make sure you get the most out of your visit to our spectacular coast, we only rent kayaks accompanied by our highly skilled guides.

Abel Tasman National Park is an idyllic sea kayaking region with some of the best weather in the country, but sea conditions can change rapidly. Tidal conditions along the coast require expert local knowledge to get the most out each day and to experience some unique features that cannot be seen on certain tides.

Whether you are a skilled kayaker, or never kayaked before, our expert Guides are trained to show you the best of the National Park while taking care of your comfort and safety.

Why Kayak with our team at Wilsons Abel Tasman?

  • Commitment to ecotourism best practice and care for the environment means we can get you closer to our region's incredible marine life without disrupting their natural habitat. Wilsons Abel Tasman is proudly the first of only 3 operators to hold a Tonga Island Marine Mammal Watching Permit from New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC).
  • Expert Guides. All guides are fully qualified and must pass our own internal assessment to ensure they operate to strict local and national safety guidelines.
  • Fun, friendly and authentic Kiwi hospitality: the Wilson family has been welcoming visitors to the region since 1841.
  • Operating year-round
  • Range of Services. Combine Sea Kayaking and Walking. Groups of different ages and abilities can choose different options and meet up on the Vista Cruise or at our Lodges along the way.
  • All modern kayak equipment supplied. We take care of the details. You switch off and enjoy.
  • No previous sea kayaking experience necessary. We give full instruction and use stable, double kayaks.
  • Safety, fun and comfort are our priorities.
  • Free transfers for day trips from Motueka. Reduced rates from Nelson. Overnight trips include all transport.
  • Sustainability by Design. We know how to show you the best of Abel Tasman National Park whilst preserving its precious heritage for future generations. Environmental Policy
  • If you'd like to stay overnight - do it in style. We operate the only Beachfront Lodge accommodation within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park: twin/double rooms, ensuite bathrooms and meals cooked for you.
  • Multi award winners. We win the awards so you win the best possible experience. We are current NZ Tourism Award winners: best Visitor Attraction and Experience (small and medium) at the 2010 NZ Tourism Awards, Innovating for Success.


Our friendly Reservations Team is waiting to answer your enquiries and take your booking. Please contact us using the details below or complete the online form on this page and one of our team will reply within 24 hours.

Freephone (New Zealand Only): 0800 223 582 (0800 ABEL TASMAN)
Freephone (Australia Only): 1800-139 341

Telephone (within New Zealand): 03 528 2027
Telephone (outside New Zealand): +64 3 528 2027 (calling outside NZ)