Local company KG Kayaks lets us explore the beauty beyond the shore

It’s easy to fall in love with the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Many of our visitors return to holiday here time and time again. Some of those visitors end up moving here to experience the beautiful lifestyle permanently. 

That’s exactly what Kenny McCracken did after he visited the Eastern Bay whilst hitch hiking around New Zealand. The instant attraction to our glistening Ohiwa Harbour saw him returning in 1995 to live and in 2001 begin his Kayaking Company, KG Kayaks. He wanted to live somewhere sunny and was taken by the hospitality of the local people.

Kenny feels that nowhere in the world is quite like the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Being out on the water gives him a feeling of seclusion that is so unique to the area. Knowing the coastline better than most, one of Kenny’s favourite spots is Pipiko Bay, a special place hidden near Kohi Point that can only be accessed by sea. He often stops here for morning tea with his tour groups.

One of the things Kenny loves most about the area is the rich culture and history. He feels lucky to have connected with local Maori who share centuries-old stories about the land and sea. He loves to share the stories with his tour groups.

It’s the once-in-a-lifetime moments that draws Kenny out to the water time and time again. A few years ago, he bumped into a whale while kayaking on the ocean. After thinking it was just a rock, Kenny was surprised when a whale appeared about two meters in front of his kayak.

KG Kayaks has grown into a stand-out local business in the area. Offering year-round tours of Ohiwa Harbour, our coastline and the many islands in the area, KG Kayaks is a busy operation with an exceptional reputation.

“I’ve lived on the Harbour’s edge for over 20 years and sharing knowledge and stories is what appeals to our visitors” says Kenny.

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See the best of the bay on a guided tour

The team at KG Kayaks have intimate knowledge of the local marine. No one knows what’s beyond the shore as well as they do. With stories to share, KG Kayaks are well-known for taking paddlers on unforgettable guided adventures. With safety and comfort a priority, guided tours can be enjoyed by paddlers of all skill levels. And you’ll even enjoy a home-baked picnic on your journey!

Whale Island

From anywhere along the Eastern Bay’s coastline, Moutohora, or Whale Island, can be seen on the horizon. Shaped remarkably like a whale, it’s clear to see where the island got its name.

Tours depart from the Whakatane Yacht Club Wharf where the kayaks are loaded on board the sailing cartamaran Centaurus, owned by local legend Barry Cutfield. On board you’ll be briefed on kayak safety during the 45 minute ride to the island. When you arrive, the kayaks are launched from the rear of the catamaran and you’re guided around the island past some stunning scenery. Two hours later after a visit to the hot water beach, its back to the boat for morning tea and perhaps a swim!

For paddlers, Whale Island is a kayaking paradise with sea caves to explore. Wildlife such as fur seals, penguins and dolphins make regular appearances. Whale Island’s seals are known for playing and entertaining and you never know what you might see while you’re out there. A couple of years ago, a member of a guided tour had an Eagle Ray jump right over her kayak!

Local KG guide Moses Paul says, “I’ve lived here all my life but I was humbled by the beauty of Moutohora when I first saw it from a kayak.”

“I can't recommend this trip enough. Such an experience to get up close to the caves and wildlife. It really is must do! Loved, loved, loved it! (and Lizzy's cakes)”

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Ohiwa Explorer

Ohiwa Harbour is known as the jewel of the Eastern Bay of Plenty and it’s not hard to see why. The natural inlet is a unique, tranquil environment abundant in wildlife and history.

The harbour has many islands to explore and what better way to see them than by kayak. On a 2.5 hour guided kayak tour, you’ll see Ohiwa Harbour like you’ve never seen it before and learn about the rich history of the area. As the harbour is home to a vast range of wildlife, you’ll enjoy encounters with the abundant bird life and plentiful rays that inhabit the harbour.

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Coastal adventure

The Coastal Adventure takes paddlers along the coastline between Ohope Beach and Whakatane. Passing the beautiful Otarawairere Bay and several rocky channels, this tour is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the coastline on an intimate level.

During the 2.5 hour journey, you’ll stop for morning tea at a hidden beach that can only be accessed by ocean. As the trip begins and ends at Ohope Beach, you can try your hand at some kayak surfing as you approach the end of the tour. During summer, the water is beautifully warm so be sure to take a dip before you finish the adventure.

“Kenny has extensive knowledge of the waters and the local geology, and he guided us easily through the reefs and around the rocks. Enjoyed a nice morning tea on a small secluded beach - with homemade muffins!”

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Moonlight Kayaking

There is so much natural beauty in our region. Everywhere you look there’s breath-taking scenery. But if there’s one thing that really captures our attention, it’s our glorious sunsets. Watching the sun go down over Ohiwa Harbour is something we should all get to see in our lifetime. KG Kayaks have designed a guided tour that lets you experience this and so much more.

The Moonlight Kayaking tour is more than just kayaking. There is a lot of bio luminescence in Ohiwa Harbour caused by the plankton that give off an electrical charge when agitated. It’s like an insane light show where both the water and the stars are glowing. Ohiwa Harbour truly comes to life at night.

“We had a wonderful couple of hours on Ohiwa harbour with KG kayaks. It was a gentle paddle on a beautiful evening.” 

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Something for everyone

KG Kayaks offer a wide range of kayaking opportunities for both individuals and groups. If you’d like to be in control of your own adventure, freedom hire is available in single and double kayaks. You’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing as well as life jackets and dry bags for your gear. This is a great option for families who’d like a bit more flexibility in their kayaking experience.

Kayaking is also a great team building activity for workplaces and school groups. The great thing about kayaking is that it is suitable for any skill level. The KG Kayaks team will ensure you are safe and will assist whenever you need them. Once you’re away, you’ll feel like you’ve been kayaking for years.

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Summer is just around the corner which means in mid December KG Kayaks will set up camp at Port Ohope for freedom kayaking on Ohiwa Harbour. Only a 20 minute drive from Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park, KG Kayak’s summer spot is easily accessible during your summer holiday.

We love hearing stories from our guests about the adventures they take while staying with us. A KG Kayaks experience is sure to be one to remember forever.

“When you go outdoors in New Zealand, magical things happen. The more you’re out there, the more encounters you have.” Kenny, KG Kayaks.

We love the location of Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park. Far enough from the town centre to feel secluded, yet close enough to access the range of activities in the area. If you want a holiday that ticks all the boxes, you’ll get it here at Ohiwa Beach. Summer holiday accommodation is filling up fast so call us today to book.

ActivitiesNola Morgan