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“Freedom kayaking at its best”
Review of Kaikoura Kayaks

Kaikoura Kayaks
Ranked #2 of 26 Tours in Kaikoura
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Voted "TOP CHOICE" Lonely Planet! KAIKOURA'S ORIGINAL KAYAK OPERATOR EST.1998 100% Success rate for Seal viewing! - catch up with the locals of the marine kind in a real Sea Kayak with us today. Curious NZ Fur Seals, Blue Penguins and Dusky Dolphins are only a few paddle strokes away and our local Kiwi Guides would love to introduce you to them around the Kaikoura Peninsula. Stay warm and dry in our enclosed stable sea kayaks with all equipment provided including GORE-TEX dry pants in winter, wetsuit booty's for your feet and dry bags for camera's. Our eco-friendly 1/2 day guided "Seal Kayaking" tours offer a safe, enjoyable, interactive experience, with little effort and a whole lot of good fun. No experience necessary, suitable for all ages and abilities. Family's are most welcome. If you want to tick off a real Kayaking experience from your bucket list with the help of our qualified Guides amongst a multitude of marine life while in New Zealand, come paddling with us! (:
Reviewed April 18, 2013

Benign weather allowed us to enjoy the Kaikoura Peninsular to its utmost.
Being in Kaikoura for one day we were hopeful that we could get out on the water to see the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Matt was extremely helpful, assessing our ability levels and advising us of the best spots.
We appreciated that we could get on the water really quickly, separte to teh guided tour group that was going out.
In a half day paddle we went around the peninsular and back, zig zagging through rocky reef areas festooned with seals. We also encountered many pods of dolphins that seemed to enjoy interacting with us, swimming around and under us, as well as trying to ride our somewhat pathetic bow wave and following us when we started to paddle off. They also put on an awesome show, pirouetting out of the water, and tail slapping along the surface.
All in all it was an experience that will remain with us for a long time.

Thank dmtl15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"sea kayaking"
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"kayak tour"
in 29 reviews
"double kayak"
in 13 reviews
in 33 reviews
"blue penguins"
in 27 reviews
"kayaking experience"
in 13 reviews
"saw seals"
in 37 reviews
"experienced kayakers"
in 7 reviews
"great guide"
in 18 reviews
"these guys"
in 29 reviews
"great trip"
in 27 reviews
"great fun"
in 22 reviews
"sea life"
in 19 reviews
"local wildlife"
in 7 reviews
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"on the rocks"
in 29 reviews
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508 - 512 of 607 reviews

Reviewed April 16, 2013

Being in Kaikoura for only one sunny day, we weren't sure which main activity to try and we are so glad we picked Kaikoura kayaking! The people we talked to when we rang up were really helpful and our personal kayak guide was relaxed, enthusiastic and great fun. They had booked in just one person for the tour when we joined up so there is no minimum group size. The activity is ideal for all skill levels as the tour guide quickly runs you through kayaking for beginners and the gear is all great quality and easy to use. I appreciated the safety run through as well and never felt uneasy out on the water. The guide was knowledgeable about the best/safe places to go (they drive you right to the beach) so I think for a short trip in Kaikoura it is well worth going on a tour rather than going on your own and potentially spending a lot of time deciding where to head and potentially not seeing much.

So heres the time where I just add the disclaimer that all we were expecting to see was a bunch of swimming, eating seals and that even as students we decided to pay for the tour for this would be worth it due to the above reasons. However boy did our trip far exceed our expectations. We ended up kayaking out to a massive pod of hundreds of dusky dolphins (which you cant even see from the shore so might not be able to do this yourself or feel comfortable going that far out on your own) which swam around us doing acrobatics for about an hour, we got so many photos and thought that was an amazing experience. On top of that our guide then spotted a whale watching tour boat in the distance so out of curiosity we kayaked over to that and ended up spending another hour hanging out with a blue whale. AMAZING. It was the most incredible and lucky day. After this we all went back to the kayak headquarters and had a big chat and shared all our photos. We will never forget this experience thankyou so much Kaikoura Kayaks! :)

Tip: They have waterproof bags so take a camera- you never know what you will see! You can clip things down to the kayak so even take a jersey if it's windy. We borrowed a cap and sunscreen from the guide but if you have a big group do not forget these essential items on a sunny day (and tie your hair up!), don't expect to fall out but you probably won't stay 100% dry.

1  Thank Imogen N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2013

I hate to be the first one to give this place a poor review but unfortunately I didn't get the experience I was under the impression I would get.

I initially went to this tour operator to enquire about hiring a kayak for the day as I have some experience kayaking and wanted to spend the day exploring the coastline and checking out the scenery. I was told that due to the rough conditions out on the water, they couldn't hire out kayaks that day but the operator suggested we join the guided tour going out later. After some more discussion and the gentleman showing us on a map the area of the coast we would explore, we decided we would give it a go.

We showed up for the tour 10 minutes early as advised, then we spent the first hour completing paperwork, driving to the water, helping unload the kayaks off the truck, doing a complete dry run of "sit in the kayak, put your spray skirt on, practice taking your spray skirt off, practice your different paddle strokes". After all this, I thought it was finally time to get in the water then instead we spent another 10 minutes playing a game with our paddles trying to learn each other's names.

When we finally got in the water, the pace was predictably slow as there were 10 people to 1 guide (in double kayaks) of all different abilities and some with little English. The furthest we paddled out is to a small rock island with some seals on it maybe 300 metres from shore. The guide then suggested we go to the slightly more exciting looking rough water a little past the rocks but then when we got there he decided it was too rough so we went back to our little rock island to look at the same seals again. We didn't spot any other wildlife on this trip.

The guide then decided it was time for photos and we went in to a little bay where we spent a good 15 minutes getting action shots of everyone. Since my partner and I didn't want a photo, we paddled out maybe 50 meters to try to catch a wave but the guide immediately started yelling at us (by the wrong names as well!) and told us to get in closer to the group. Since we didn't want a photo, we sat there and did nothing. Then another one of the groups got stuck around some rocks so we had to wait a while for that to get resolved. All the meanwhile, the guide is calling us by the wrong names, calling us Americans (we're not) and telling us to not ride the waves. By the time we knew it, it was time to start paddling back in.

Like I said, the experience wouldn't be so bad if this is what you were told to expect. My disappointment lies with the fact that we discussed what we wanted to do with the tour operator in the morning and presumably because he only had one tour going out that day, he saw it as the only opportunity to make $ from us that day so he pushed us in to it. All in all, it was less that 2 hours of kayaking, at a tremendously slow pace, with little ground actually covered, not at all what we were after! Not at all what was shown to us on the map either. I would have been happy to share my thoughts with either of the staff present after the conclusion of the trip but no one asked!

If this is what you're after, you'll have a great time, it just wasn't what we thought we were paying for!

5  Thank lia_p_aus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KaikouraKayaks, Owner at Kaikoura Kayaks, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Gutted! and hurt is how Tylar and I are left feeling about your review Natalia.

We bent over backwards to show you two a good time and are just left speechless after your comments on Trip Advisor.

14 people took part on the tour that afternoon all with mixed ability's and all but two paddlers told us at the end of the tour what a great time they had. Alot of them had already taken part in other activity's that morning with not much success and remarked on how much more exciting and fun kayaking with the Fur Seals was, also that it was the highlight of their trip to NZ!

Initially when you inquired about hiring a kayak for the day we read you the marine forecast which wasn't good and restricted the paddling area for that day. I showed both of you the area that could be used for GUIDED TOURS ONLY on a map and explained that for your safety it was to risky to hire kayaks with the large swells and possible increase in wind on the Southern side of the Peninsula. You then both agreed to take part in the guided tour that we were running that afternoon knowing full well the restricted area for kayaking.

When signing up for group activity's consideration for other peoples ability's is always a factor to be taken into account and most people accept this as part of an experience. Over the many years I have worked as a guide find most people help others out to enjoy the activity.

You asked how long the tour would take and I explained to you that your paddling for around two hours and covering 4 - 6 kms with half an hour either side spent on a safety briefing, learning paddle strokes, filling out a trip plan / customer declaration, adjusting your kayak to fit your body shape / size and getting to know the other happy paddlers. This is all standard procedure with most reputable operators.

Tylar and I also unloaded all the kayaks off the trailer at the start of the tour so all anyone had to do was help carry them down to the waters edge, 20m that four people can manage easerly.

Most people enjoy the relaxed paddling pace when kayaking in Kaikoura as it gives you a better chance at spotting marine life, for example little Blue Penguins which are only the size of your fist and can be easily missed when paddling to fast.

We had two guides on the water that day, my self and Tylar with Seals swimming close to happy paddlers. Albatross around the end of the reef, White Faced Turns darting in and around us while the Oyster Catchers searched for food amongst the rocks.

All the paddling was kept to the Northern Side of the Peninsula for every body's safety as 3 m South swells were crashing on the Southern side and wouldn't have been to conducive to staying in your kayak if ventured into that area.

We always give our customers the opportunity to have some photos taken of themselves kayaking using their own cameras which they really appreciate most of the time.

Tylar and I both observed that you guys were paddling into an area that had breaking waves while the rest of the group was in a safe zone. That's when I called Tylar up on my radio and asked him to signal you to paddle out of that area for your safety as we have had people in the past capsize in the surf break which is not a good thing!

Tyar is sorry for the confusion with names and nationality mix-up this was a human error and we apologise.

I am however 100% confident that the whole tour, paddling area and general running was explained to both of you in detail and that the reasons for not hiring kayaks that day were obvious.

I was definitely not out to make more $ out of your booking as at the end of the day it would have been more economical not to put an extra guide on for that tour and if the sea conditions had been more favourable less running costs would have been incurred hiring you a kayak.

The opportunity at the end of the tour was also made available to approach us about your concerns as we always say our goodbyes to every one who paddles with us individually, asking them what they thought of the tour and finish with a shake of the hand.

Natalia & James it seems that while in NZ you have given a lot of Operator's and Accommodation providers bad reviews.
Our little friendly country of 4,500,00 million people try hard to please traveller's while on holiday and leaves us to wonder are your expectations too high?

Sincerely Matt Foy, owner / operator Kaikoura Kayaks since 1999.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2013

We had a brilliant time with Kaikoura Kayaks. Excellent friendly, super-informative guide. The equipment was well kept and comfortable. We felt safe the entire time, and saw some awesome panoramic views. We were taken to some really secluded spots where we saw all sorts of marine life. There were also seals galore. We watched a seal eat a jellyfish, and it was epic! Definately recommend!

Thank Nicola H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 28, 2013

We had a fabulous time. Although March may have have not been the best time to see marine life, we did come across the Little Blue Penguins and the fur seals. It was good fun, with a great guide who really looked after us. We had a pre-water briefing and safety lesson, before we got going. The water was clear, sea calm and very little wind. We were able to paddle right up to the seals. Our guide kept us informed about the area and marine life, he took photos of us and the other double kayaks as we were paddling along. My wife has never been on a kayak before but absolutely loved it. I am sure that anyone who goes on this adventure will be impressed as we were.

Thank JeffGoldCoast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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