We’ve tried to answer as many FAQs as possible. If you still have a question please email info@paddlewanaka.co.nz or call 021 926 949. We’d love to help.

What are your age/experience requirements?

We have trips that cater for all ages and all abilities. If you’re not sure that the trip you are interested in is right for you, just call or email us and we can help organize a trip that you are going to love!

Can I go if I have medical conditions?

We try our hardest to get everybody enjoying the water, and have many products to suit all kinds of needs and abilities.  Give us a call and we can chat through the different options we have to suit you.

What if I’ve not kayaked/stand up paddleboarded before?

Everyone needs to start somewhere, and beautiful Lake Wanaka is an awesome place to try out kayaking or stand up paddleboarding for the first time. If you want to get out and go, our beach rental team will brief you on the basics before setting you free on the lake. Or if you’d like a little more instruction, you can take some of our guided tours.

What clothing should I wear? 

Comfortable clothing suitable for outdoor adventure, and preferably non-cotton materials. Paddle Wanaka will supply life jackets but you may get splashed!

Where will you pick up & drop off?

For beach rentals, come along to the beach front trailer (opposite The Lake Bar – follow the Paddle Wanaka signs) and we’ll set you off from there. For the tours, our usual pick-up/drop-off spot is the Wanaka I-site (103 Ardmore Street, Wanaka) but we can arrange other pick-up and drop-off locations too.

What equipment do I need? 

All you need to bring is clothing that you don’t mind getting wet, and anything else you might want to deal with the current weather (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, raincoat, fleece, water bottle, snacks, etc.) If you are going out for 2 or more hours you should also bring a cell phone that works in New Zealand as an emergency contact. 

Do you have wet suits available? 

We don’t keep wetsuits on the waterfront, but if you would like one just give us a phone call or email when you make your booking, and we’ll bring one down for you. Wetsuits cost $15 per hour to rent. 

Can I take camera? 

You can definitely take a camera, it will just be at your own risk. We usually have some dry bags available to help protect small electronics like cameras and cell phones. 

Will we get wet? 

That all depends on your boat! In our big double kayaks you stay quite dry, usually the only water is from small splashes your paddle makes. In sit-on-top kayaks or on stand up paddleboards you will get a bit wetter, simply because you are not enclosed in your boat. 

How often do you fall in? 

Our kayaks (both sea kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks) are all quite stable, and our staff will help you find the right boat for your experience level, which means falling in is unlikely. Our stand up paddleboards are also relatively stable, but you can expect to fall in if you are just learning. Its all part of the fun! 

Do you operate in the rain? 

Yes! A little rain is no reason not to go paddling! We’ll only really shut down operations of the weather becomes too windy for us to safely operate. This generally means winds around 30km/h. 

When are you open? 

Our summer hours are generally 9:00-6:00, and in winter it is 10:00-4:00. These hours may change to be longer (if its really nice weather out!) or shorter (if it gets really windy). If you are not sure, you can give us a call at 0800 926 925 to check in. 

Can I take my dog? 

If your dog likes water and has been on a boat before, go for it! 

How old do you need to be? 

We have life jackets to fit most ages! Paddlers under 18 years of age will need a parent/guardian to sign the risk waiver before heading out on the water. 

Do you need to be able to swim? 

You do not need to be able to swim. Our kayaks (both sea kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks) are all quite stable, and our staff will help you find the right boat for your experience level, but there is always a risk that paddlers might fall into the water. We have life jackets which will help you float, and we ask non-swimmers to stay close to the lakefront so we can help if you get into difficulty. Just make sure you let the staff at the beach know!

Can I paddle to the Wanaka tree?

Absolutely! A return trip from the lakefront will usually take about an hour.

How much time do I need?

This depends completely on how far you want to go and how leisurely you’d like your paddle to be. The bay is beautiful, and there are plenty of spots to explore – we usually recommend a two-hour rental if you’d like to head to Ruby Island, and ‘The Mission’ rental (4 hours) if you’d like to head further afield. If it is your first time paddling, a one-hour rental is a great way to try it out without getting too tired.

How far in advance to you need to book?

To guarantee a kayak or SUP at a certain time it’s best to book the day before so we can provide enough equipment for you. In the summer time our lakefront rental team gets pretty busy so if you haven’t pre-booked you may have to wait for fellow paddlers to return.

Where do I find you?

You’ll find us on Ardmore Street on the lakefront opposite The Lake Bar. Look out for our Paddle Wanaka signs!

Can we hire multi day?

Unfortunately we can’t offer multi day freedom rentals, but if you do want an overnight trip with one of our guides please get in contact with us for more info and prices, or check out or Mac Daddy trip information.

Where do we start/finish? Where can we go?

You’ll start from our beach rental van Ardmore Street on the lakefront opposite The Lake Bar. Look out for our Paddle Wanaka signs. You’ll paddle up to Ruuby Island (about 45mins) and then we’ll pick you up by powerboat and wizz you back to where you started.

What happens if the weather changes?

We’ll always give you a thorough briefing of what to do if the weather changes and what your options will be. You’ll have our phone number and can contact us at any time during your trip if you have any questions or concerns.

What should I bring?

All you’ll need is active clothing, a mobile phone sunscreen and other sun protection, a water bottle, and maybe your camera and your togs and a towel if you want to swim at Ruby. You might also want to bring a snack as there are some awesome places for picnics on Ruby. We provide all safety equipment and a dry bag for your phone. We suggest packing a warm jumper too.

Why is this different from a rental?

This trip is an awesome way to explore deeper into the lake and includes one way transport. It’s great for families or people who want a relaxed way to visit Ruby Island. It is a one hour kayak rental and leaves you 2 hours to hang out on Ruby Island. If you want a bigger adventure, The Mission may be a better option for you.

How much experience do I need for this?

You’ll be paddling on your own (or in your group) so it’s a good idea to be fairly confident on the water, but you don’t need to have had much previous kayaking experience. Kids love this and love exploring Ruby Island.

Where do we start/finish? Where can we go?

There are lots of routes available for this trip, which is why the Mission is so exciting! Routes differ depending on the weather and your preferences. Options include exploring the tranquil bays of west coast up to Glendhu Bay, or checking out Stevenson’s Arm peninsula and quiet Dublin Bay on the east coast, but we’ll brief you before you head out with weather updates. You will either start or finish at the lakefront and you’ll have a 4 hours on the water. 

What happens if weather changes?

We’ll always give you a thorough briefing of what to do if the weather changes and what your options will be. You’ll have our phone number and can contact us at any time during your trip if you have any questions or concerns.

What should I bring?

All you’ll need is active clothing, a mobile phone sunscreen and other sun protection, a water bottle, and maybe your camera. You might also want to bring a snack as there are some awesome places for picnics. We provide all safety equipment and a dry bag for your phone.

Why is this different from a rental?

This trip is an awesome way to explore deeper into the lake and includes one way transport. You’ll either start at the lakefront and head out into the lake where we’ll pick you up from several locations, or we will drive you out to a location where you’ll paddle back to the lakefront.

How much experience do I need for this?

You’ll be paddling unsupervised so it’s a good idea to be fairly confident on the water, but you don’t need to have had much previous kayaking experience. You can paddle a wee way and picnic for 3 hours, or you can live out your Captain Cook fantasies and explore the vast coastline of Lake Wanaka. How far you go is up to you! All you’ll need to keep us updated while you are on the water.

How many people to book?

  • A minimum of 2 people are needed for this trip.

What do I wear?

Make sure you’ve got swimwear, or something else you can wear under a wetsuit that is not cotton. You can bring a thermal layer as well if you are worried about being cold. We will provide wetsuits, booties, lifejackets and helmets for all participants.

What should I bring?

You should bring your swimwear, sunscreen and a water bottle. Cameras are great too, but be aware that they will get wet and could potentially be lost. You can purchase a set of photos that your guide can take, just be sure to confirm this with them before you get on the water so that they can get lots of sweet action shots for you!

Do I need to be experienced?

This is a great trip for those who have kayaked a couple of times before, or if you are pretty fit and enthusiastic. This is not a good trip for those who have never kayaked before and are potentially nervous about it. The Tiki Tour is a great option instead for anyone who wants to try kayaking for the first time!

Kayak the Mighty Clutha is best for people over 13 years of age. Please contact us if you are hoping to book a tour with a child.

How long does it take?

You should allow about 4 hours from the time you are picked up to the time you will be dropped off. This includes 15 minutes of transport by van each way, time getting changed and learning about the river, and about 2.5 hours of paddling on the river.

Do I need to be able to swim?

On this trip you are much more likely to fall in, so being able to swim will make you much more comfortable. Non-swimmers will likely enjoy the Tiki Tour more as an alternative trip.

Can we have a private tour?

Yes! If you would like a private tour, please contact us by phone or email for prices and to book.

Will I fall in?

The short answer: probably! Taking a “swim” is all part of the fun! Your guide will teach you how to self-rescue before you get on the water, and will be nearby if you do tip out and need extra assistance. All guides are trained in swiftwater rescue and have done hundreds of rescues in their time. 

Will I get wet?

Definitely.

What type of kayak do you use?

This depends on the river flow. We used double sea kayaks or single sit-on-top river kayaks specially designed and rigged for whitewater kayaking.

What about the weather?

Kayak the Mighty Clutha runs rain or shine! If its chilly out we’ll give you some extra thermal layers to keep you nice and toasty!

How far do we kayak?

The stretch of river from Outlet/Albert Town to the Luggate Bridge that we paddle is approximately 22 kilometres.

What grade is the river? What are the rapids like?

This is a grade 2 stretch of river. The whole river is very fast flowing, parts of it will be quite flat, especially at the beginning when you are still getting to know your kayak. Further down the rapids get more intense, with bigger waves and more exciting dynamics. At every rapid you will have the option of taking an easier “cruisy” route, or pushing yourself to take on some of the bigger features. Your guide will give you a solid explanation of each option

What is the difference between a Tiki Tour and a Lake Escape?

The Tiki Tour uses sea kayaks and the Lake Escaoe is on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs)

What do I wear? 

You will want to wear clothing that you don’t mind getting a little wet. You won’t get soaked, but a little bit of splashing is normal. Dress in clothing that is active and appropriate for the weather. On the Lake Escape, bring togs as there is the option to wear wetsuits.

What should I bring?

All you’ll need is active clothing, sunscreen and other sun protection, a water bottle, and maybe your camera. We provide all safety gear, plus a splash jacket and spray skirt to keep you as dry as possible on the Tiki Tour, and a wetsuit for the Lake Escape.

Do I need to be experienced?

Not at all! Both the Tiki Tour and Lake Escape are great for first time paddlers and families. The pace and the route will be adapted by your guide to fit the needs of the group.

How long does it take?

From the time we pick you up, until the time we drop you off, you should anticipate about 4 hours. Transport by water-taxi is usually about 20 minutes each way, and we’ll spend about 2.5 hours on the water and picnicking. 

Do I need to be able to swim?

You do not need to be able to swim, but please let your guide know so that they can make sure you are comfortable on the water.

Can we have a private tour?

Yes! If you would like a private tour, please contact us to book it. The cost for a private Tiki Tour is $220 for adults and $95 for children under 13.

Will I fall in?

The kayaks we use for our Tiki Tours are very stable, so it is unlikely that you will fall in. Your guide will be there to help you learn to use your boat and show you how to manouevre it safely, as well as to assist if you have any difficulties. On the Lake Escape it is quite possible that you will fall in, which is all part of the fun!

Will I get wet?

On the Tiki Tour we will try and keep you as dry as possible, but getting a little wet from the splashing of your paddle is normal. On the Lake Escape, you are likely to get wet!

What type of kayak / SUPs do you use?

We use a double sea kayak with a simple rudder system called a Mission Eco Niizh. They are very stable and great for first time kayakers. We use Red Paddle Co inflatable paddleboards which are ideal for beginners.

What weather do you kayak in?

We go rain or shine! If there’s a lot of wind around making the lake choppy, we know some great sheltered spots where we can still go kayaking!

How far do we kayak/SUP?

How far you go depends on how fast your group decides to paddle, but typically Tiki Tours go a total of 5-8km and the Lake Escape 3-5km.