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By Alina Maul

Did you know that New Zealand has the highest number of boats per capita than anywhere else in the world? Not really a surprise, when you think about the beautiful, untouched beauty of many of the country’s lakes and rivers.

Whether you live in New Zealand or are a visitor, taking a boat tour across one of the pristine rivers should be on your to-do list. Whether you’re looking for a half day, full day, or multi day itinerary, there are options galore, and this is also true of the type of vessel, which ranges from motorboats, steamboats and jet boats.

The land of water

Lake Hawera. Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

New Zealand is a land of lakes and rivers of breath taking beauty, and it is said there is nowhere further than 20 minutes from a water body! With so many spectacular shorelines and beaches, a boat cruise should be on everyone’s plan. Cruising the lakes and rivers is a delightful, relaxing, and memorable experience.

You can go on a thrilling jet boat ride, match race on an America’s Cup yacht, go kayaking, or pick a leisurely cruise and stay overnight.  Drop a fishing line, relax on a secluded island with a book, take a leisurely swim, or just soak up the sun and views.

In the North Island, you have a wealth of incredible areas to explore. Auckland, The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Lake Taupo, Taumarunui, Rotorua, Northland and the incredible Whanganui River are places that water-lovers will enjoy.

Whanganui River adventures – more than just a boat ride

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Imagine travelling overland by rail, through a 1.5km tunnel and exploring the Whanganui River by Jet Boatback to your starting point. . For any jet boat or rail enthusiast, this is a dream come true.  You can discover New Zealand in a truly unique way with Forgotten World Adventures, a top tour provider based in Taumarunui in the heart of the Forgotten World, where you will learn about the history of the old SOL rail line and connect with the Spirit of the Whanganui River - the first river to have gained its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.

If you want a longer journey, there’s a two day adventure too, with a rail journey, a scenic helicopter flight, and an amazing 110km jet boat ride - truly a journey that will delight any tourist or local with a thirst for a unique adventure.

If you want a good time rather than a long time, a quick one hour blast on a jet boat will get your heart racing while seeing some beautiful NZ scenery. A 45km journey takes you through rolling farmland and native bush.  

Fields of lavender (and a jet boat ride)

This tour from Forgotten World Adventures starts and end with a thrilling jet boat ride on the Whanganui River. Sandwiched between time on the glorious river, you can indulge in the Café and giftshop at Lauren’s Lavender Farm. Rest amid birdsong in the native forest, eat cake and take photos amidst the deep purple fields of lavender.

With all these options, all in the North Island, you are spoiled for choice- book today to avoid missing out!

Explore Auckland’s Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf

Waitemata Harbour is Auckland’s main entry point to the water. Whether you want to take a gentle spin around the harbour, sight dolphins, race an authentic America’s cup yacht, or enjoy a fine wine and dine experience on a luxury cruise, there are options to suit every taste – and pocket.  

Auckland, known as the City of Sails, should be experienced from the water. One of the best ways to do this is to book a one hour cruise on the Ted Ashby, a deck scow, which allows one to enjoy the beautiful Auckland skyline. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for kids.

If sailing aboard an America’s Cup (the world’s oldest and most prestigious yachting regatta) yacht is what gets your pulse racing, then you should book the Explore Group’s Explore Auckland America’s Cup Sailing Experience, where you can actually be a crewmember! Choose from a two hour sail or a three hour match race. The tour sets off from Auckland Viaduct Harbour and will set you back between $185 and $199.

How about a sail to Rangitoto Island, a volcanic cone in Hauraki Gulf, which is over 600 years old? Fullers360 Rangitoto Island Ferry is the way to get this experience, with tickets running $36 for an adult and $18 for a child.

Get a taste of Northland and The Bay of Islands

There is something enchanting about spotting dolphins and watching them frolic in the waters. Swimming with them is another option for those who love nature. A cruise for dolphin spotting and swimming around the Bay of Islands will give you just this opportunity. A full day experience will allow you to sight whales, dolphins and more local wildlife as you take a ride on an express-built dolphin viewing boat. Everything New Zealand offers a Dolphin Swim & Bay of Islands Tour at $271 for adults and $135 for kids.

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Northland’s coastline is home to some fascinating and diverse wildlife and what better way to catch a glimpse than by taking a boat cruise? The R Tucker Thompson Day Sails is the way to go – you can get the experience of being part of the crew as you sail aboard this iconic tall ship which will be one of the best moments of a Northland holiday. Feel good knowing you’re aboard one of the Bay’s most eco-friendly ships! An adult ticket for a day tour will cost $155 and kids tickets are priced at half that.

Pick your own path

If you want to do your own thing, the options are limitless. If you have your own boat and need gear, want to charter a yacht or anything else, then Marine Services have a range of recommended businesses and services that cover everything you might need (and some you didn’t know you needed).