• Paul Clark

SUP New Zealand (Week 1)

Paddle boarding in New Zealand has been a dream of mine pretty much from the moment I started paddling. The dream has become a reality. After week one of a month long trip, here is the first trip report.

The purpose of the trip is to share the love of adventure paddle boarding. It will be a whirlwind trip, covering both North and South islands, meeting paddle enthusiasts, SUPing as many rivers and lakes as possible, and promoting the paddle board brand Hala.  

I arrived in Auckland after a 14 hour flight from the States then picked up the rental van from ModeRentals. It is a smaller rig than I had expected, but will do.  The Hala boards I will be paddling and demoing on the trip arrived via FedEx. Clever roof racking of the inflatable boards will be a constant art form as we road trip through the country. 

My paddling partner, Conal Hearps, would come from Australia a coulple days after me. That gave me the opportunity to make a mad dash up the Northland coast, visiting Whangarei, Paiha, and Kerikeri paddling with people including Bill Dawes of Northland Paddleboarding

Back in Auckland, rendezvoused with Conal, visited a couple paddle shops and the Vero Whitewater Park , then hit the road three hours south-east to the whitewater capital of the north island, Rotorua. National rafting teams train here on the Kaituna River. Andy Fuller of Day Two Kayaks & SUP Gear was our host. He put us up for two nights and showed us the area. Thank you, Andy!!

Okere Falls is the on the Kaituna and is where most of the rafting and kayaking in the area take place. There is a slalom  course. It was where we touched our first river of the trip. High water and heavy rains, along with the numerous low hanging gates made for an interesting initial challenge. 

After a couple days in Rotorua, we made our way south to Lake Taupo.  The town of Turangi is a fly-fishing destination, as well as the area where folks on the North Island ski.  We hit the Tongariro River, enjoying a fun run on the ClassII Red Hole Hut section.

Back in the car, on the road to Taumarunui where we are setting ourselves up for a three day SUP-support paddle on the Whanganui River.  This will be the only multi-day river we are planning and is one of the rivers I have been most excited about.

The Whanganui has been granted human rights and is seen as sacred. Paddling here will be an honor. 

Stay tuned for the second part of this Blog published next week after the Whanganui and on our way south.