Bartailed Godwit by kayak

The mysteries of the bartailed godwit, with its supernatural migration from the Arctic to the shores of New Zealand may never be explained. Each year we launch the kayaks to visit their feeding ground hoping to catch a sight of these ethereal and yet hardy birds.

Join us to welcome the godwits arrival in spring after their remarkable 8-9 day non stop flight from the Arctic Circle. In the autumn we visit them before they start their journey home for breeding, many already sporting their beautiful rufus breeding colours of rust and gold.

In kayaks you have a wonderful opportunity to get close to the 92 species of New Zealand birds which have been identified here, with minimal interruption  their natural behavior. By land they are always tantalizingly distant.

For Maori the kuaka or godwit are birds of mystery. They feature prominently in their mythology. It was believed that they passed by their ancestral home, Hawaiki and that the spirits of their departed flew home with them on their return flight.

Kua kite te kohanga kuaka? Who has seen the nest of the kuaka?


Per person NZ$100 per person
Person on private tour NZ$300.


Maximum number:
Six per tour
Eight by arrangement.


Three hours, plus thirty minutes preparation before the tour.



Experience needed:
A responsible level of fitness is required to enjoy this tour. Children must to eight or older. No previous kayaking experience is necessary.


Bartailed Godwit in breeding plumage.
Bartailed Godwit in breeding plumage.
Godwit in flight
Godwit in flight
Observe them close up
Observe them close up

Before booking this tour we recommend that you email us to check availability.

“Will was excellent company and imparted a great deal of knowledge throughout our trip.” Lynndall Dwyer, Australia


Times below are an example only, please contact us for the best time for your tour. We recommend that you allow one after your tour for other bookings.

9.30am safety and environmental briefing

9.45am Short lesson on paddling and practice paddle.

10.00am Kayak down the Opawa river which winds to join the Wairau River. On the Wairau Estuary we hope to see Godwit and other wading birds. If necessary a deeper exploration into the Wairau Lagoon maybe necessary.

12.15pm Return up the Opawa River.

1.00pm Make landing at Driftwood home base.

1.10pm Debrief and farewells.

Our tours are customised to our clients interests and fitness, the above schedule is a guide only.


• A 66% chance to see the bartailed godwit, master of long haul flight.
• 93 other bird species have been identified here.
• Stable double and single kayaks.
• An experienced guide who will make your tour both interesting and fun.
• One tree is planted for every tour to offset our carbon footprint.
• Department of Conservation Concessionaire since 2004.

Bartailed godwit with royal spoonbill in background

Because we like to customise our tours for individual preference, we recommend that before booking this tour that you email us to check availability and departure times.