Royal Spoonbill by Kayak Tour

This post is also available in: German

Kayak Tour to see the royal spoonbill

This easy two hour kayak tour in Marlborough is ideal if you are new to kayaking and want to get close to New Zealand birds like the beautiful royal spoonbill.

You will be given a short lesson in paddling skills and you can choose from double or single kayaks. Your kayak guide will soon have you at home on the water. The tour is on a slow moving tidal river and stays within the protection of Wairau lagoon.

Meet the majestic birds the royal spoonbills in their wetland home, watch them feeding and preening. They are an ideal bird for wildlife photography. On your tour you will have the opportunity of seeing some of the 93 other New Zealand birds identified in this area, your guide will point these out and help you identify them. Kayaks are the best way to get close to birds in a wetland environment.

Enjoy sweeping views of the hills and mountains of the Wairau Valley. This is a wonderful photographic opportunity.

At the estuary you are welcome to take a short walk and a cup of tea and a home made muffin.

On your tour will be given a brief history of some of the stories of early Polynesians and European settlers. The Wairau bar is the first known site of human occupation in New Zealand.

If we decide that the weather is not suitable a guided wetland walk is offered as an alternative or a refund.

Per person NZ90$
Person on private tour NZ165$

This is a scheduled tour. The tour departs every Saturday, bookings are essential.


Departure time: We will advise you as it depends on tide.

Maximum number:
Six per tour
Eight by arrangement.

Two hours, plus thirty minutes preparation before the tour.

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

What to bring:
When you book the tour you will receive an email about what to bring, otherwise see frequently asked questions.

Launching the kayaks

Kayaking in New Zealand

See birds like Royal Spoonbill on our kayak tour.
Royal Spoonbillsve
Royal Spoonbill
Royal spoonbill




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

“Definitely one of the highlights of my trip to New Zealand.” Connie Nelson, Fremont, CA


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. See Royal Spoonbill and other wading birds.

10.45am Make landing at the sand island or near the cormorant colony for a break and a cup of tea and muffin.

11.05am Return to kayaks for return paddle up the Opawa River.

12.00pm Make landing at Driftwood home base.

12.10pm Debrief and farewells.

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


• A 95% chance to get close to the dazzling Royal Spoonbill.
• One tree is planted for every tour to offset our carbon footprint.
• Department of Conservation Concessionaire since 2004.
• Driftwood is an audited tourism provider.
• You can bring your own picnic, visit our eight hectare wetland and meet our alpaca family.

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.