Which Marine Reserves Are Best for Kayaking?

27th January 2015
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kayaking marine reservesWhen you take your boat to a marine reserve, you might not want to leave the waters behind the second you arrive. Kayaking is a relaxing experience in the right setting, and it provides the perfect opportunity for you to explore. Knowing which marine reserves are ideal for kayaking in advance can make your trip easier.

Westhaven Marine Reserves

The Westhaven reserves are inland, which means you don’t need a large boat to reach them. Featuring an estuary that is split into protected thirds, it covers just over 2,500 hectares overall. There is a nice combination of coastal channels and native forests, so you won’t get bored of the scenery as you’re exploring.

If you are new to kayaking or you are not a strong swimmer, consider taking someone with a lot of kayaking experience along to Westhaven. The tides are quite strong there, which means weak swimmers can soon find themselves in trouble. In addition, the tides tend to fall quite rapidly.

Once you get over those tidal humps, it is hard to find a more secretive or enticing marine reserve to explore. Many of the channels that branch off from the inlet are excellent for seeing a variety of bird species, including kingfishers and banded rails.

Kapiti Marine Reserves

The Kapiti Marine Reserves may be particularly popular with divers, but that doesn’t mean kayakers are excluded from the fun. If you want to see Kiwi birds in their natural glory, Kapiti is the place to do it. In fact, kayaking here is a great way to see some of New Zealand’s most popular birds.

If you were hoping to head to Kapiti alone, you may be disappointed. This is one of those Marine Reserves you can only access under the guidance of a tour operator. Fortunately, the Department of Conservation has approved plenty of them. If you want to travel during the summer, you should probably book well in advance. The summertime is one of the most popular seasons, so if you’re traveling to the area especially for a Kapiti visit you shouldn’t leave your booking to the last minute.

Long Island

Keen boaters will be delighted to know that you can only access Long Island by boat. Unfortunately, there are no jetties. However, there are flat landing areas on the western side for you to take advantage of.

Once you arrive, you will be faced with one of New Zealand’s most diverse landscapes. A combination of wet valleys and sands form Long Island, making it ideal for kayakers who prefer a calm experience to explore. To complement the serenity, there is a high chance you can spot bottlenose, dusky, or even Hector’s dolphins. Hector’s dolphins are particularly rare, yet you stand a higher chance of seeing them on Long Island than many other places in New Zealand’s waters.

While Long Island is excellent for those who prefer a calm kayaking experience, it is still relatively rugged. Once you leave your vessel and begin walking along the shore, you won’t find any worn tracks to follow. Still, walking away from your kayak is an excellent way to see shags fighting with mussels along the shore.

Before you set off to a Marine Reserve to go kayaking, do bear in mind your personal limitations. Many are relatively safe, but Westhaven does require more caution than most thanks to those fluctuating tides.

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