Māori Waka (Canoe) River Journey

Navigate a South Island river to the South Pacific coastline.

Experience how our people traversed the oceans on a waka to discover and call New Zealand home.

Paddle your way upriver, then make your way back down to the Pacific Ocean.

As part of our coastal restoration program, you will transport and plant native harakeke (flax) as we make our way through native bush to a hidden white sand beach. Here you’ll get to explore the South Pacific coastline by foot before paddling across the estuary to our home base.

Included in your tour

  • Life jackets
  • spray jackets
  • water safety coaching
  • waka ama instruction
  • sunscreen
  • native harakeke (flax) to plant
  • complimentary refreshments

Need to know!

Wear clothing suitable for paddling and optional swim.

Shorts, towel, sandals and sun protection.

Dress for the outdoors and wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking.

Booking information

  • Tours are perfect for families and small groups; fully customised cultural experiences are available – please contact us for comprehensive planning and pricing options.
  • Tours can be arranged all year round and we offer flexibility to fit in with your travel plans.
  • Tour time is dependent on tides. Confirmation will be given at least one month in advance.
  • Tour length is approximate and varies according to weather conditions on the day. If you have specific time constraints please let us know.
  • Karitāne Māori Tours will cancel tours if the sea conditions put passenger safety and comfort at risk – in this event, we will advise customers as early as possible and refund 100%. We accept no further liability for cancellations due to unsafe weather conditions.
  • Language translators are available at additional cost. We are happy to  provide recommendations and advice for any aspect of your visit to our region, including accommodation in the area.
  • Prices are in New Zealand dollars and include all taxes.
  • Karitāne Māori Tours is closed on 25-27 December, 6 February (Waitangi Day), Good Friday, and 25 April (ANZAC Day).

Getting here

We’re an easy 40 minute drive north of Dunedin on State Highway 1.
We can also arrange transport to and from Dunedin if you need.

Meet your guides

Kāti Huirapa whānau
Kāti Huirapa whānau

Karitāne Māori Tours is owned and operated by the Kāti Huirapa whānau, the local Maori iwi (people) of the Puketeraki/Huriawa.

Their passion for the environment sees them taking an active role in habitat restoration, both on the land and in the water. Through Karitāne Māori Tours, whānau are able to share their love of being on the water with their passion for people and the environment.

The fleet of waka is a combination of old and new, double-hulled and outrigger. The revitalisation of waka on the river follows the strong cultural traditions of the past on the Waikouaiti River and links the people of Kāti Huirapa to the landscape.

"When people leave this place we hope they will look at their own environment with new eyes and remember our special place. We love sharing our stories and the tranquillity and slower pace of life that you find here, where the ocean meets the land."