There are so many kayaking options you will be spoilt for choice (or if you’re anything like me, completely unable to pick) - from hourly hire off the beach, half day, full day or overnight with guided and freedom options.
After much dithering over the map we decided to go all in and do the ‘Big Tonga Marine Reserve Tour’, which is a full-day guided kayak ($199/person from 9am - 4:30pm) tour. They provide all the equipment, including lunch and dry bags for your camera and extra gear. You need to be over 14 years to do the Big Tonga, but there are other options if you have younger children.
We started on the beach with the signing of all the usual forms, safety information, handing out of life jackets and other gear and being introduced to our guide for the day (an eclectic bunch of characters).
Then we all bundled onto the water taxi for a scenic tour up to the start of the paddle. Once in our double kayak we visited the seals on Tonga Island and then back down the coastline for views of spectacular rock formations and beaches.
After a much deserved rest and lunch stop on a lovely beach we headed back to meet up with the water taxi, which would drop us back to Kaiteriteri.
They say no experience is necessary and the pace is pretty leisurely so only moderate fitness is required, but I did sleep very well that night.
Departure point - Kaiteriteri Beach, can pick up from Nelson ($9 each way) or Motueka (free)
Price - $35+
Duration - 1 hour to overnight
Phone - (03) 527 8383 or 0800 2 KAYAK (within New Zealand)
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.seakayak.co.nz
Wheelchair accessible - No
Kid/families - Yes, all kids must be over 6 and accompanied by an adult over 18 years
What to bring - Hat, sunscreen, warm top, quick drying shorts, swimsuit, camera, snacks and drinking water.
Bookings - essential