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Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand

Updated on May 6, 2015

Kayaking in Australia and New Zealand, Really?

Haven't you ever wanted to kayak in either Australia or New Zealand?

If you have, then what are you waiting for? It's the perfect time of year to go. I'm going to list Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand

(Above) That's an aerial view of Sydney, taken by Rodney Haywood, from a helicopter

Besides being a great place to visit, I'll show and describe some of my favorite places for you to kayak on both continents. Each presents their own particular challenges and excitement for kayaking.

It doesn't matter whether you are a river, lake, stream or an ocean kayaker, there are plenty of places. I list my five favorite, starting in Sydney. I start there because that is where the famous "Sydney Opera House" is located PLUS.... it's also where most ~ major airlines fly to. best of all, it's easy to connect to New Zealand as well.

Starting with flying into Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, here are my five favorites

The First Stop of Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand

Starting in Sydney, not only is the city visible from the harbor but you can see the Airport Tower in the distance, the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge (which you will paddle under). Also, you will enjoy the serenity of the bay which is just a stone's throw from the airport so grab a sack lunch from a local shop and put in at Darling Harbor.

As you slow paddle, you will pass around the tip and head east and under the Sydney Harbor bridge, past the Opera House and out to Nielsen Park. What makes this trip so fun is all of the boats, water craft and/or conveyances and flotation devices everywhere. All full of people doing just what I'm doing, enjoying the water and people watching.

Fort Denison.

Paddling under the bridge and heading east, all manner of sea life is visible along the shoreline as well on the approach to the Fort Denison island ( A kind of one turret Fort with a not so famous past) and it's right smack in the middle of the harbor. It's a museum as well and warrants a visit.

Shark Island

Next up and (named for it's shape, not for the number of sharks near it) is Shark Island. It's a great little tourist spot. There is a local ferry service available. My last stop on the Sydney Harbor excursion will be to continue paddling east towards Nielsen Park. Paddling to the north side, you will find a beautiful white sand beach.

Nielsen Park

The beach and surrounding countryside are part of what used to be the "Wentworth Estate" which became part of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1911. The original residence "Greycliffe House" built in 1851 still stands. Currently it's used by the Park Service as their headquarters.

On a personal note, during tropical storms, this beach makes a great surfing beach.

Once at Nielsen Park, pull ashore and open your sack lunch for a quick bite, soaking in all of the sights. As you head back, paddle across the bay and take the opposite side of the harbor back to Darling Harbor..Depending on how many detours taken taken along the way, the trip from Darling Harbor and back should be roughly 15 to 20 miles. A respectable trip and enjoyable sightseeing.

There are too many sights to see along the way, so take your time and a camera on your trip.

Oceangoing or River Kayak Choices - Dagger Green Boat or Ocean Boat, you decide

I test and evaluate many items for camping, hiking, climbing and kayaking. Many times in far more adverse conditions than the manufacturer's recommend, so when I say something is good or stands up well? You can bet it does. Campingman--

Pelican Summit 120X Kayak, Red/White
Pelican Summit 120X Kayak, Red/White

The Summit by Pelican is another that offers great performance from a mid priced kayak. Lots of storage again, with adjustable footpegs and a comfortable seat. Evaluation: With the adjustable back rest on the seat, it makes for a comfortable day paddler. Plus, FREE Shipping to round out the deal.

 

Lake Burley Griffin, ACT - Our 2nd stop

kayaking in australia jpg 2
kayaking in australia jpg 2

This is a view of Lake Burley Griffin from a nearby rise, just to give you an idea of it's size and a bit of it's unique design.

We're going to now jump in the car and take a quick three hour putt to the town of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin. Now I know it sounds corny, but the lake is a little known secret as a place to kayak. Not to mention, it's the only place for getting wet in landlocked Canberra. The lake is right smack in the center of the city, and is a showpiece of the capital.

It's named for the American architect (Walter Burley Griffin) who designed the city of Canberra and the lake.

It's a man made lake built by damming the Molonglo River and as such, it's the perfect size lake for a day trip in a kayak Your point of contact here--is: the Burley Griffin Canoe Club. They can help you out with most any information you need with regards to the lake and the surrounding area. The lake is just over six miles long and paddling completely around the shoreline is right at 20 some miles. An easy day.

Make no mistake though, this is an enjoyable day trip with plenty to see. All around the lake, you will see numerous important institutions. They were built with the lake in mind and include such buildings as the National Gallery, the National Museum, the National Library, and such. That's not to say that the trip around the lake is just looking at man's monuments alone.

There are park lands also which are popular with recreational users, mainly boaters, as I didn't see many swimmers on my tour. But you will find again, all manner of watercraft with people enjoying the day, by fishing or sailing or just whatever. There are also six islands, the largest (Aspen) has the National Carillion donated by the British Empire to the people of Australia. Once you hear it's bells play, you won't soon forget the sound

Now it's on to my next favorite day trip location.....Innes National Park (Yorke Peninsula), SA

Kayaking Around Australia - One Woman's remarkable story.

This book "Fearless" is a "MUST HAVE" for all kayaker's. It's the true story of one woman, Freya Hoffmeister. She is a forty-odd-year-old woman who left her (then) twelve-year-old son behind to paddle alone and unsupported around Australia. Her trip exceeded 320 days and she covered over 9,000 miles, surviving not only huge, shark-infested seas, but wanting to do so in a shorter time. Buy the book.and read her remarkable story.

A Remarkable Story of a Remarkable Woman

Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent
Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent

Journalist and expert kayaker Joe Glickman followed Freya's 332-day voyage, including her daring 350-mile open-ocean crossing that shaved three weeks off of her trip. In the end, he says,

"Freya's vanity and pigheadedness paled when compared to her nearly superhuman ability to master fear and persevere"

This story is available in Kindle and paperback.

 

A Necessity For 'Sit on Ocean Going Kayak' owner's

Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back (Black)
Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back (Black)

If you own a 'Sit on Top' ocean going kayak, you are going to need one of these. Back support during a long day of paddling on a sit on kayak can be brutal w/o one.

Evaluation: Buying one of these will mean all of the difference in your back comfort during the trip and it includes FREE Shipping.

 

The first river you paddle, runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are. -- Lynn Noel

Mowarry Beach - Stop # 3 of our day trips

kayking in australia jpg4
kayking in australia jpg4

Here's a view across the bay from Eden, looking at the wood chip plant at Edrom.

After our visit to Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin, we jump in our car once again and head south again. This time towards the coast and the town of Eden, New South Wales, Australia just about 3 hours south. We are not going to Eden specifically, but to the Ben Boyd National Park. A park encompassing a massive length and number of beaches with an even larger variety of coast lines.

The town of Eden (an old whaling town) is known as one of the most southern towns in NSW, near Victoria. But, one of the best kept secrets, is that near there is a little known beach called Mowarry Beach. No one is going to write home about this beach, as it is a bit tough to get to except for the hearty of soul. If you choose to go as I did? You are going to be amazed at the beauty.

Pack yourself a decent lunch, head a few miles south and put your kayak in at Boydtown. As you paddle out of Twofold Bay, you will pass (on your right) a National Historic site of the old Davidson Whaling station from days past. Boyd National Park itself starts on the other side of Edrom. You'll see an old wood chip mill (again, on your right) as you paddle the shoreline and around the point.

If you stick close to the coastline, you can see all manner of sea birds including cormorants as they dive and eat the plentiful bounty of fish Rounding another point, looking to your right, you will see what looks like a lighthouse, but it's not. It's called "Boyd's Tower" and was built to let the whalers know when the whales were coming in but never finished. (the reason is another story entirely)

Continuing on you will see some magnificent and craggy coast line which will bring you to Mowarry Beach itself which you can recognize as it's near an open area that used to be a farm. Pull ashore and do as they say down south? A walkabout and then have lunch before heading back.

One thing for sure......check the wind and tide conditions before you set out.

Point Nepean National Park, Victoria - Stop # 4

kayaking in australis jpg5
kayaking in australis jpg5

Here is a picture of Port Nepean, taken from across the bay from the Queenscliff Tower (home of the dual lighthouses. If you look to the right of the base of land, you can see the entrance to Bass Straits----the Infamous and deadly 'Rip.'

First, a brief history of the park. Point Nepean is now a National Park, but it was not always so. The area was originally settled and inhabited by Aboriginals thousands of years ago. (There are numerous registered Aboriginal archaeological sites scattered throughout the park.) It was also one of the first or second sites in Australia that was used as a quarantine station beginning in 1852. Many of those original buildings still stand.

Now, to tell you a bit about why I like this place. First, you can stay in the sheltered waters of Port Phillip Bay and enjoy a great day of paddling or head straight away to Bass Strait, via the 'Rip.' But the one you choose will depend upon your skill set in a kayak.

The safe way to enjoy your day trip here, is to stay within Port Phillip Bay and paddle east following the coast. Not only will you encounter other boater's, but you will be delighted with the host of sites and towns to see along the way. (Not to mention the numerous places to stop and grab a bite to eat.) Do however.....mind the ferry.......it travels through there as well. One thing I encourage, is to chat with the locals where ever you do decide to stop and eat. Australians are amazingly friendly people

A view across the 'Rip' from Point Lonsdale

A view across the 'Rip' from Point Lonsdale
A view across the 'Rip' from Point Lonsdale

Innes National Park (Yorke Peninsula), SA - # 5 our last stop in Australia

kayaking in australia jpg4
kayaking in australia jpg4

Our final stop is about a days drive from Melbourne, (about 12 hours) so plan a long day trip or a casual overnight trip traversing the southern end of Australia as we head to the Innes national Park. It's on the south end of the spit of land, near Marion Bay. Once you get there, you can put in there, or follow Stenhouse Bay Rd..

I like to put in at Stenhouse Bay (halfway between Marion Bay and Inneston.) This is where the Parks and Wildlife offices are located. Put in and head west to see if the waves are lining up for the surfer's. There is some spectacular surfing here and it's always fun to watch. One thing to remember, if you planned on eating your lunch ashore and you wait until the swells are lining up for surfing? Just eat in your kayak as you're not going ashore any time soon so continue on your trip.

If you want to put in a bit further down, follow Pondalowie Bay Rd. all of the way to where it joins with Cape Spencer Rd. You can put in here and paddle up around the tip and see some magnificent rock cliffs. The entire trip changes from cliffs to white sand beaches in the flick of a wave it seems.

The Australian coast line is a magnificent coastline to see. It varies from white sand beaches, to vegetation right down to shore to cliffs and all teeming with sea life of all kinds, bays to explore and people to get to know.

Just keep in mind, that this coast line is some of the most beautiful you will find but it is also rugged and dangerous, so explore accordingly.

Next up: A short plane flight to Queenstown, New Zealand

In a Sunburned Country
In a Sunburned Country

Finally, if you are looking for a close up view of the real Australia? Bill Bryson's Sunburned Country takes you there. From the Gold Coast to the Outback and everything in between. Mr. Bryson infuses humor and wit as he tells his tales of his forays across Australia. Available in Paperback, Harcover, Kindle, Audio, you name it. It is a must have for travel down under.

 

Travel Guides - Buy a Fodor's or Frommer Guide

If you want some more in depth coverage of the places I wrote about today, there are a couple of sources to go to: Fodor's and Frommer's. All of their writer's live there and provide much more in depth coverage of these places and many more.. Plus, Bill Bryson adds a lighthearted view of travels throughout Australia that is NOT to be missed. Buy 'em, read 'em and enjoy.

Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete)
Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete)

Why Frommer's instead of another? The author's (and there are several) are ALL from Australia. The live there and travel to and see what they write about. First hand and accurate information.

 
Frommer's EasyGuide to Australia 2014 (Easy Guides)
Frommer's EasyGuide to Australia 2014 (Easy Guides)

A shortcut version of the standard Frommer's Guide If you want a book to carry with you on a daily basis, this might be the one for you. It is to be considered a backup to or in addition to the standard full size Frommer's Travel Guide. Available in Kindle and Paperback.

 

The Road Heading Into The Mountains of New Zealand

The road heading into the Mountains
The road heading into the Mountains

Milford Sound - Fiordland National Park

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kayaking in australia jpg6

The First of Two Stops in New Zealand

As we near the end of our Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand tour, we find ourselves flying in to Queenstown, New Zealand. Our destination is Milford sound and there are two ways to reach it. You can fly, or travel to Milford Sound in custom built glass roofed buses so you won’t miss views of the mountains, glaciers and rainforest. (I always prefer the bus ride for the magnificent views.

Milford remains the first stop for many wishing to experience Fiordland Nation Park. It is a popular spot for kayaking, (or boating of any kind it would seem) An area surrounded by ancient rain forests and granite peaks that seem untouched by man. Waterfalls that thunder down mountainsides to fill the 10,000 year old fjords that flow out to the sea. A more magnificent and beautiful place on earth would be hard to find.

With a plethora of ways to enjoy the sound, you need only choose. From sleek looking catamarans to kayaks to noisy helicopters and even airplanes. For me, the two day kayak trip was the way to go. We were not to be disappointed.

From stepping ashore and walking but a feet yards inland, you meet the towering cliff faces that mark the surroundings of the fjord. Long vines and thick vegetation that you would swear has been untouched for thousands of years. All arching towards the clouds.

Waterfalls thunder down the mountainsides and crash into the fjord below in a magnificent display of nature's power and abundance. The mist from the waterfalls extend far out into the sound and can be felt quite a ways from the source.

Then of course, there is the ever popular and the much photographed and iconic Mitre Peak. A mountain rising seemingly out of the sea for more than 3,200 feet straight up. If nothing else, getting to see Mitre peak is worth the trip.

Next up, my number one choice for kayaking in New Zealand.......Doubtful Sound.

Feel free to leave a small trinket to 'add' to the bounty - As you cross over Wilmot Pass

Feel free to leave a small trinket to 'add' to the bounty
Feel free to leave a small trinket to 'add' to the bounty

Our Final Stop In New Zealand - A truly wonderful place, Doubtful Sound

kayaking australia jpg 8
kayaking australia jpg 8

Doubtful Sound was named by Captain James Cook in 1770. He called the entrance "Doubtful Harbor" and did not venture in for fear of being unable to return from the harbor to the sea once he was inside.

I saved Doubtful Sound as my last stop in my favorite places to Kayak In Australia and New Zealand because it is a special place. Not only because it is a remote place and hard to get to but because of it's beauty which makes it well worth the journey. It is also one of the few places in the world where there are no known natural predators. You can camp with ease.

If you thought my description of getting to Milford Sound sounded like an adventure, then take a look at this. You may feel as if you are touching the end or even the beginning of the world

Since there is no direct road access, the sound is less crowded. The one and only way you can get to there, is by a cruising across Lake Manapouri. Once across, you then must take a bus trip over Wilmot Pass (the bus stops at the top so you can get a look at the lake before proceeding on). But think about it. This ensures that only those who WANT to get to Doubtful Sound go. Therefore, it is more pristine and you will appreciate the beauty even more so.

You may be reminded of the Movie "Lord of the Rings" or "The Hobbit with there majestic views when you gaze down from the top of Wilmot Pass. it is truly magnificent to behold.

Doubtful sound is only 25 or so miles long, but it is 3 times larger than Milford sound and you can count on one hand the number of other boats you will see. The remoteness of the area means you have a better chance of seeing the abundance of wildlife that live in the fjord, from bottlenose dolphins to fur seals to the elusive Fiordland's own Crested Penguin. There is just no end to what you are going to encounter including the sounds of birds whose cries echo off the granite walls.

The waterfalls, rivers and streams are rich with tannin (an astringent and bitter plant compound) Tannins are found in leaf, bud, seed, root, and stem tissues of many plants and since they are abundant in the area, they are naturally occurring. Rainfall also accounts for a portion of the tannins in the water and rainfall is abundant here.

When you pull up on that beach at the end of the first day, you feel as if you are the first person to ever set foot there, so quiet and peaceful it is. Lying on your back and gazing at the stars is an entirely new experience because it is so clear, like you are looking 'through" the universe. You may want to swim in the water, but let me forewarn you....it's cold.

When you reach the end of your journey and are back where you began, don't let yourself feel bad in the least. You have been able to experience fjords carved by glaciers nearly 2 million years ago and now you have the memories of experiencing something few people ever have or will in the entire lives.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the trail--

Fodor's New Zealand (Full-color Travel Guide)
Fodor's New Zealand (Full-color Travel Guide)

If you want to see New Zealand? This is the book to buy. Great maps, photos and descriptions allowing you to customize any and all of your travels with this full color guide. Available in paperback

 
Fodor's Australia (Full-color Travel Guide)
Fodor's Australia (Full-color Travel Guide)

Gorgeous Photos and stories to match. Fodor's let's out all the stops on this one. Lots of information in an easy to read and understand format. Nit too much on the maps though but all around? An excellent addition to anyone's trip. Available in paperback.

 

View from Wilmott Pass looking toward Doubtful Sound

Please share your experiences Kayaking in Australia & New Zealand

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    • CampingmanNW profile image
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      CampingmanNW 3 years ago

      @VspaBotanicals: Yes it is

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

      Simply beautiful!

    • CampingmanNW profile image
      Author

      CampingmanNW 3 years ago

      @favored: I have been most fortunate in my life to have traveled as much as I have. But the world I started traveling in all those years back, is NOT the world of today. But there are still many places to visit and some for a second or third time. Thank you for your kind comments. It is most appreciated.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I'd love to have the experience of visiting these beautiful places, but doubt it would be in a kayak. You make it all sound so exciting and give new perspective to traveling by water to see the land. I appreciate your sharing this with us. What lovely photos.

    • CampingmanNW profile image
      Author

      CampingmanNW 3 years ago

      @Aladdins Cave: Yep, the further north you go, the more the likelihood of croc encounters.Looking at the land from the water is indeed a fresh perspective. Fresh water crocs do not for the most part present an issue, just saltwater. I am how-ever working on doing just that as I write (kayaking North Australia) I have contacted a guide to check it out and will report back once I have more info. Thanks for you visit and kind comments

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      WOW. I've traveled Australia a fair bit. But Kayaking gives places I've been too a completely new perspective. Instead of looking out to water, your looking back at land. Would never do in Brisbane rivers with the crocs. Great lens, thank you.

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Oh yes, we have always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand. Not much into kayaking though. Breathtaking views, stirs up the urge to think seriously again about getting to see that beautiful country too.

    • CampingmanNW profile image
      Author

      CampingmanNW 3 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Hey there, thanks for your visit. While it's true, that there are salt water crocs in Queensland, you will notice that my kayaking spots did not include anything that far north and as we all know, fresh water crocs are usually not dangerous to humans. As for myself, I never recommend anything I haven't tried, and since I am a bit of an adventurer, I would travel to that area to kayak only with a local guide. Watch for updates and thanks for your visit.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      What an adventure! I wouldn't kayak in the north of Australia where the big crocs are.

    • CampingmanNW profile image
      Author

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      @TanoCalvenoa: Always glad to help.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Although I've only kayaked in Southern California, and I've never been outside of North America, I found the information here about Australia and New Zealand to be highly interesting to read about.

    • CampingmanNW profile image
      Author

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      @Old Navy Guy: First off, Thank you for stopping by today. Yes, there are many places not just in Australia, but New Zealand as well. For the sake of time and space, I simply limited this lens to my favorites. Thanks for the comments and if you do kayak down there, you will not be disappointed. After all, there is more to Australia than just Kangaroos. Cheers mate.

    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 4 years ago

      I have been to Australia several times and even New Zealand once, but never thought of Kayaking. Thanks for a great lens on the in's and out's of "Down Under" as you call it. Are there other placves down there that you have kayaked as well, or are these the best?