Kayaking with Family
We’re often asked if kayaking is suitable for families and the simple answer is a resounding YES!
If you’ve got kids who love the outdoors (or who need a gentle nudge to remember just how great the outdoors can be!) kayaking is the perfect activity for your family.
So, what do you need to know about kayaking with family? We’ve put together a list of handy tips and tricks to make sure your family kayaking adventure goes off without a hitch!
Good preparation is key
Like any family activity that involves handling multiple people and personalities, your kayaking experience will benefit from a bit of light prep-work. Talk to your children about your plans if possible and determine how comfortable they’ll be on the water. Address any fears or concerns they might have and show them pictures of some of the amazing sights they’ll see. Building the excitement without piling on the pressure will make sure they arrive rearing to go—and help you to avoid any last-minute changes of plan. Wear light clothing with long sleeves if possible or thermal wear over the cooler months and don’t forget the hats, snacks, water bottle and sunscreen!
Choose the right kayak
On guided family tours, you will use double sea kayaks with an adult in the back to control the pace and steering while the children are in the front sitting back and enjoying the ride! We recommend putting the strongest adult with the youngest (or weakest) child, just to be as safe as possible. Children under the age of 6 years are usually the perfect size to sit in the middle hatch of a double kayak meaning 3 people can paddle together. If you have odd numbers, no need to worry, your family can team up a with a guide. Interested in taking yourselves on your own adventure? sit-on-top kayaks are a great option too. They can’t fill up with water, they’re easy to recover if flipped over and you can easily jump off by choice, too!
Pick the right time and place
When kayaking in Kaikōura, we recommend morning starts for families. This way, you’ll have the best chance of interacting with marine life and getting back to solid ground before the pesky wind picks up. For families, calm water and minimal marine traffic are essential.
Keep it short and sweet
To avoid fatigue, keep the kids engaged and to make sure everyone has an enjoyable experience, we recommend keeping your first session short—around 60 to 90 minutes is about the perfect duration and the allocated time spent on the water taking part in family kayak tours. This gives you plenty of time to nail your paddling technique, explore your surrounds and get back to shore before any tiredness sets in. You can make the next session slightly longer and work your way up from there. Before you know it, you’ll be going on full-day adventures!
Take a camera
What you may or may not need to take with you will depend on whether you’re going on a guided tour or planning your own adventure. But a waterproof camera, a GoPro or phone in a waterproof floating case is essential no matter what your choice! Be ready to capture those incredible photos of seals and dolphins in their natural habitat, the stunning surrounding natural landscapes and your loved ones having the life of their lives on their family kayaking adventure.
Ready to book your Kaikōura family kayaking adventure? Check out the guided tour options on the Kaikōura Kayaks website.
Wow wow wow! We'd done whale watching the day before but this beat that hands down. Miles was great, just enough instruction and safety chat and getting us involved in prep. He mentioned that he'd seen spouting and splashing over the other side of the bay so we decided to head that way. Within minutes we were seeing loads of leaping...
Lesley H, UK
We did the trip with a 6 and 8 year old. Parents in the back of each kayak, kids in the front. This worked really well. Saw a huge number of dolphins & Seals. They were playing & doing crazy tricks. Had a lovely time, the staff were really friendly, helpful & enthusiastic. Great value for money and would highly recommend this...
Steve, Nelson NZ
Marine mammal megamix Spent a truly incredible morning around the Kaikoura Peninsula with Matt and Emma, two fantastic local guides. The whole operation was very professional, with high quality kayaks, equipment and a detailed safety briefing. Spent a good amount of time observing the seals, tried our hand at some kayak surfing in the big...
I would have to say this is up there with one of my best experiences in New Zealand! The kayak tour was incredible and I would really recommend this to anyone. The staff are great, friendly and funny which made the tour even more enjoyable. My team included Emma, Cam and Sophie. As I was on my own, I had the pleasure of sharing a kayak with...
Giorgio Favarulo, UK / Ireland
Third time with Kaikoura Kayaks! Have been in guided tours and hired a double kayak; all experiences were incredible. Great staff and equipment. Kaikoura is one of the most amazing places to kayak - so much wild life and you're surrounded by epic scenery.
Kiana Saltarelli, North America
Great Trip - even the oldies loved it! Had a really great trip with Cowan out to the see the seals and the reef on a beautiful morning. I was a bit worried getting in a kayak with my mother (67) and father (70) but Cowan kept us going at a leisurely pace and even convinced us to have a go in the open ocean! What a great experience and...
John R, UK
"To Matt and the Kaikoura Kayaks team, Thank you very much for a fantastic day of kayaking. Both our trips were very well organised by your friendly team. We found your lessons enjoyable, helping us all to be confident, expert paddlers! We were so lucky to have a beautiful sunny day, and we enjoyed fantastic scenery and wildlife out...
Kowhai Class, Hurunui College NZ
The experience of a lifetime! Having intuitive and professional guides who allowed us the opportunity to experience an outstanding and very memorable day. They knew just where the incredible action was happening. We saw an amazing array of dolphins playing right near us and also saw blue penguins and seals. We travelled for two weeks around...
Paula Kirby, Wellinton NZ
Sunset magic 10/10 thanks to Emma and her crew. We had a magical day on the water and got to see feeding seals, dolphins and wildlife. Thanks so much would 100% recommend to anyone looking for a unforgettable experience in Kaikoura!!
We had a truly wonderful experience; my husband and I went as a stop on our honeymoon trip. Our guide, Ru, was knowledgeable and skillful, and checked in with us often to provide the experience that would help us feel challenged, excited, and also safe and comfortable. From start to finish the team was so thorough and made sure we had all of...
Laura James, USA