Stand up paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports on the planet and New Zealand is the perfect place to try it – hidden bays, mellow lakes and little estuaries make it a map for paddle boarding routes. You can find paddle board rentals and occasionally surf schools in each of these destinations across the country.
1. Russell, Bay of Islands
There are far more inlets in Kerikeri where you can actually find paddle boarding schools but Russell has a great post-boarding café culture. The inlets make it easy to build an easy-to-follow route too.
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2. Mission Bay, Auckland
This has to be the most iconic place to go paddle boarding in New Zealand, with the Skytower looking over the seaside playground of Mission Bay. Whilst it might be a lot of fun to paddle board around Auckland’s cityscape, this is one reserved for those who are confident dealing with on-the-water traffic too.
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3. Whangamata, Coromandel
This is one of the best places to go off-roading or paddle boarding, with a longboard and your favourite people. There are heaps of hidden coves and estuaries that are made even better by the lack of crowds and summer sunshine – try and find Whenuakura Island on your next journey.
4. Manu Bay, Raglan
Whilst Raglan is known as being the surf capital of New Zealand, it’s also ace for stand up paddle boarding. The beachfront is long and you can catch small waves in between the rips. That said, you might be battling the surfers for space so have a back-up plan in case it’s too crowded.
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5. Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman
This is a unique way to see one of New Zealand’s most beautiful National Parks. Take a stand up paddle boarding tour around the Marahau Inlet or jump on board one of the catamarans to see the local seal colony – great fun for the whole family.
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6. Akaroa, Christchurch
Why swim with dolphins when you can go stand up paddle boarding with them? Kaikoura’s dolphin and whale colonies have been known to appear around the seaside village of Akaroa, making stand up paddle boarding here an interesting experience to say the least.
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7. Taranaki, New Plymouth
This is a great back-up option if your attempt at SUP in Raglan didn’t go so well. Whilst the waves seem rough around the northern coast, there are a few inlets like this one where the swells are pretty small so both beginners and intermediates can enjoy it. Plus, the backdrop of Mount Taranaki is pretty epic!
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8. Shelly Beach, Tauranga
This is one of the best known family resorts for a reason but if you need a little bit of R&R, you can easily go paddle boarding around Mount Maunganui or the rest of Tauranga. It’s been made even easier by the surf schools and board rentals around the town.
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9. Titahi Bay, Porirua, Wellington
Ever fancied trying to do your downward dog on a paddle board? There are yoga SUP classes based around Wellington, complemented perfectly by the juice bars and breakfast cafes on Cuba Street – excellent for a weekend of watersports and relaxing.
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10. Lake Tekapo, Canterbury
Yes, you might need a super thick wetsuit for this one but Lake Tekapo is well-worth exploring on a paddle board. The Church of the Good Shepherd and the snow-capped Southern Alps make for a beautiful backdrop too.
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