This is our most popular half day trip and is the perfect daytime activity for the whole family. The trip starts from The Boatshed and takes you across Lake Karapiro to a hidden inlet. The inlet offers access to two waterfalls which are only accessible via kayak.
The first waterfall takes you up a narrow section of canyon which is draped in native ferns and is the easier of the two to access. The second takes you further along the inlet to a place which at first glance seems like a dead end. After ducking under a few ferns it opens up to a hidden stream which takes you through the forest to the more spectacular of the two waterfalls.
• This trip is non guided and open to those aged 5 and over.
• You will be given a map of the area and shown the best way to get to the waterfalls.
• You will be given a brief kayak lesson and helped with the set-up of your kayak.
• The trip takes around 2hrs but you will have 3hrs to complete the trip.
• There are a number of great spots to get out and swim or to have lunch along the way so it pays to bring a towel and a change of clothes.
• Bookings are essential.
• Price for Single sea kayak $25 - 3hr hire
• Price for Double sea kayak $50 - 3hr hire
• Price for Stand up paddle board $20 - 2hr hire (if you have never paddle boarded before it might pay to talk to us first regarding this option).
With three girls aged less than four years apart I am a busy mum always on the go doing various activities with my children. As my oldest two have embarked on the big journey through primary school though and have a active after school programme of various activities and play dates and outings I find that the amount of one on one time I get with them has decreased substantially. Obviously as my little misses get older having a good relationship is going to become increasingly important so I am trying to identify ways of spending time with each of my daughters one on one. Being a very active person (who is totally in her element doing sporty outdoors activities) I really want my girls to embrace what our amazing country has to offer. When The Boatshed provided me with the opportunity to take a three hour kayak trip with their Karapiro Hidden Waterfalls Kayak Tour I immediately thought it would the perfect activity to do with my just turned Miss Seven.
She was very excited about the trip and more so when it was decided it would just be her and me. We discussed having single Kayaks, as Miss Seven has done a bit of kayaking, but decided that because of the distance she would share a double kayak with me. Having chosen a Sunday late morning set off we packed our essentials for the trip. Sunhat, sun cream, camera (don't forget your camera!) raincoat, change of clothes and lunch. We wore our togs underneath our clothes just in case we decided to take a dip!
From our house it was an easy 45 minute drive to The Boatshed. I had looked on their website to find directions and knew the road to turn off the State Highway. The drive to get to The Boatshed is wonderful.. I hadn't driven there before and it is beautiful. Drive slowly, appreciate the countryside and keep your eye out for The Boatshed signs. We found it easily and were immediately met when we got out of our car. It was fully explained to us what to do and the facilities at The Boatshed are fantastic. There are changing rooms and toilets which Miss Seven thought were very cool as well as a lovely restaurant with stunning views if you wish to stop for refreshments before or after your little adventure. We were joined by our kayaking companions and then we were set up with life jackets and given dry bags for our gear though there are fully waterproof compartments in the kayak. After filling out a disclaimer and analysing our map with instructions we were set up in our kayak. I have done a lot of river and sea kayaking but appreciated the very clear instructions about how to paddle and steer the kayak. Even as a beginner I would have felt confident with the instruction provided.
Miss Seven was well and truly ready to get going and loved the added excitement of the D Day celebrations occurring on the opposite bank of the river, which meant some pretty impressive planes flying over us. We also got to watch some pretty impressive waterskiing and wake boarding. Lake Karapiro is a very popular waterway so I did feel a little nervous of the speedboats. We kept close to the side of the river and saw some lovely bird life as we paddled up to the transmission lines which were our crossing point.
This was the most unsettling point of the whole trip so we all just paddled pretty smartly across to the little beach on the other side at the entrance to the stream. For all of us this was a good chance to stretch our legs, collect some pumice stone and eat our sandwiches. As it turned out this was really the only getting out point so was a good stop. We then got back in our kayaks and entered the very serene and peaceful inlet leading up to the two waterfalls. It really is a different world. The kayaking is very easy and as the stream narrowed at the entrance of the first waterfall I appreciated the rudder on our kayak which was a huge help in navigating.
The first waterfall was just brilliant. It made the whole day worthwhile in itself. We then turned around and paddled to the next tributary. This was incredibly overgrown and if you didn't know it was there you wouldn't know it was possible to kayak in. I got Miss Seven to put her paddle parallel to the kayak and I navigated the stream as its pretty tight. This was my most favourite part of the day as it really felt like we were intrepid adventurers. The waterfall at the end wasn't as spectacular as the first waterfall but the journey getting there was awesome! We turned around and headed back by which time Miss Seven's bladder had had enough. She decided to eat her snacks and I paddled fast back to The Boatshed. We were able to chat whilst paddling and I really appreciated that we had got the double kayak as it meant that when Miss Seven wanted to paddle she could but if she just wanted to talk (which she does a lot ) she could. I was also really pleased it was just us as if we had had the younger sisters along the trip would have been quite different.
I can't recommend this trip enough. It is a brilliant trip to do as a couple, as a family or as a group and is a very memorable and enjoyable outing. I am very keen to try the Glow Worm Adventure and look forward to trying that next year. In terms of a good experience with Miss Seven, she really enjoyed it and we have agreed to try and do a little adventure together at least every couple of months. Thanks very much to the The Boatshed for providing us with the opportunity to experience a hidden treasure.
It was a perfect day for a kayak on the lake... warm but not hot, overcast but cool, few boats on the lake, and an airshow thanks to the Armistice celebrations up the lake a little ways. So, 5 of us arrived at The Boatshed and got the run-down on how to use the kayaks, lake safety and protocol, directions and a map, plus some great advice. Since this was an unguided tour, and we all had kayak experience, we were given the gear, pointed in the right direction and set loose upon the water.
The round trip, if done in the most efficient way, is about 4-5km depending on the exact route you take. Your fee gives you 3 hours, plus a bit of wiggle room if you need it, and this proved to be plenty of time for us to make the journey. Of course, with one adult and one non-paddling child in each of the two double kayaks, going was slower than if it had been two adults paddling, so you can rest assured that you have time for detours and stop-offs at one of the little docks or "beaches" you discover along the way. We paddles down the lake a ways, then crossed over directly under the power lines, as the make for very convenient markers and the boats tend to slow down and often stop to reverse directions at that point, which makes it one of the safer areas to cross the width of the lake. Great advice from Eliott, the site manager.
Because we weren't really pushing ourselves, we decided to stop off at the little beach on the Western shore, slightly up-lake from the powerlines. It's beautiful, soft pumice sand which was nice on the bare feet, and gave us a great view up-lake to the Armistice displays. We had a couple of planes fly low right over our heads, which was a thrill for the kids. After grabbing a quick lunch, we set off to explore... it was an easy paddle through the inlet to the first waterfall. It was the easiest to get to, and the bigger of the two. I have to disagree with Eliott when he said this was the least spectacular waterfall, because for me it was by far the more scenic of the two... but I do agree with him when he said the journey to reach the other waterfall is so much better...
Heading up the other fork of the inlet, you reach what appears to be a dead-end, until you get right to the end see the passage through the greenery that leads you upstream - I was at the end of the line and to me it looked like the kayaks ahead of me just dived into the bush and vanished. The way gets narrow in places, and because it's all overgrown with trees and bushes, it's a very beautiful and peaceful trip. I kept waiting for fairies or goblins to poke their heads out and giggle at us. There was plenty of evidence that this area is also likely to have an abundant gloworm population, which would make this trip simply amazing at night, but I strongly recommend against it as the risk of getting hitched up on sub-surface branches was bad enough in full daylight. I would NOT want to risk it at night.
After seeing both waterfalls, the trip back to base was just as peaceful, but seemed a little tame, and since we had time we took a few detours on the way home. Another quick stop on the beach again allowed the kids to stretch their legs and grab another quick snack, then it was off across the lake once more and a steady paddle back down the lake to the Boatshed dock area. Funnily enough... the hardest part of the trip was actually the hike back up the gravel driveway to the carpark. I think they need a golf-cart waiting or something!
Overall, this was a stunning day out, and apart from sore arms due to muscles that haven't really been given a big workout since the last kayak trip we did, it was a great way to spend a Sunday. Well worth looking into while the weather is good, but unless you are well prepared, I wouldn't suggest it as a 3-hour trip during full-sun days. Make it the full 6-hour "day hire" and take your time... and plenty of water.
I have to say, compared to the Glow Worm tour done by the folks at "the Boat Shed", this tour excels in so many ways! I used to be a Boy Scout, so I had an adequate amount of experience with kayaks, and I loved riding in them! The kayaks used in this trip were a small step above the type I am used to, because these ones had a rudder on the back! The rudder was operated by two pedals. This system took a bit of getting used to, but after a while, I adjusted.
The duration of the trip was good, we started the tour at about 11:00am, and it ended around 3:00pm, so it wasn't too short as to be over far to soon, but it wasn't too long as to be boring. Since this trip happened in broad daylight, there was far more visible scenery, and it was easier to avoid obstacles in the water. The trip certainly felt like an adventure, because when we went down the route to one of two waterfalls in the lake, there was one point where it looked like a dead end, but in fact the stream was decidedly overgrown, so it was a bit hard to spot!
Crossing the lake was a bit of a worrying part, as there were people wake-boarding, which meant quite a bit of jet-boat traffic, and there were people on jet skis as well, so we had to cross in a bit of a hurry! The trip was social to a degree, there were only 5 people attending, including myself, so it was a small group, but it was still fun! The waterfalls were the best bits, I thought we were only going to see one, so it took me by surprise when we saw the other one!
I think that Lake Karapiro was an awesome destination, while there was a mild current in the main lake, the water was calm and easy to navigate in the streams. The scenery was truly wonderful, it's a great example of New Zealand's natural wonder, so if I ever get a kayak of my own, then this is a spot to remember! Overall, I have to say that this trip is well worth the price. The appeal factor was high, I very much enjoyed the trip, and kayaking is now a hobby I wish to take on. To sum things up, this is a trip I won't soon forget, and it is one I highly recommend it to anyone who loves scenery and kayaking!
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