Stand Up Paddle Guide to Tutukaka Coast by Jo Roberts

Tutukaka Coast

Natural beauty abounds on the Tutukaka Coast. Rocky shores, and pristine white sand beaches, stunning coastal bush walks, and the incredible Poor Knights Marine Reserve. The Tutukaka Coast is located on the North East coast of the Northland, New Zealand. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Auckland when heading North, or 1 hour from the Bay of Islands when heading South.

The Tutukaka Coast is a hidden gem that will capture your heart in an instant. Rated in the top three coastlines in the world by National Geographic, the Tutukaka Coast is a paddlers paradise! New Zealand paddler Jo Roberts introduces this little gem on the Land of the Long White Cloud.


Jo’s Link to The Tutukaka Coast

The Tutukaka Coast is one of those ‘off the beaten track’ places that once you have found it, you never want to leave! This is exactly what happened to me! I first came to the Tutukaka Coast 4 years ago when I was a beginner Scuba Diver. The underwater environment on our coast is unbelievably beautiful! I returned a couple of times then was set to come here for a season of life underwater as a dive instructor. After being here for a month or two I stumbled across the SUP community and fell in love! I am now a SUP Instructor and manage the local SUP School here. I am now happy to call this beautiful coast my home.

The Local riders and SUP community

The SUP scene is still relatively small, with only one SUP company in the area and just 2 in the entire Northland region. This means that there is so much unexplored paddling territory just waiting for its first stroke. The paddlers you will find out here range from mums going for a cruise to hydro-foiling wave riders, so while we are a small community, we are spoilt for choice in terms of SUP possibilities. We have a growing downwinding community in the area and in town (30 mins away) there is a competitive race group that meets weekly. Well known SUP champion, Marcus Hansen, also calls our coast home!

Renting a SUP and SUP gear in the Tutukaka Coast

SUP BRO Paddle Boarding is the place to go in the north. They have a range of SUP’s to hire, they offer lessons, SUP yoga and coastal tours. SUP BRO is the only company that offers guided stand-up paddle tours to the iconic Poor Knights Islands.

Are there any SUP schools in the area?

Yes, the SUP BRO Paddle Boarding is one of New Zealand’s largest SUP schools. Their affiliation with the Northland schools means that they teach upwards of 1000 kids to paddle every year! SUP BRO use the paddle boards as a medium to teach kids about water safety, teamwork and inspire them to love and protect the ocean. This means that learning with SUP BRO is fun and easy for all ages and experience levels. The Tutukaka Coast is also one of the best places to learn how to surf on your SUP!

Any major SUP event?

The Poor Knights Crossing is a yearly downwinding event held in Tutukaka for surf-skis and stand-up paddle boards. Said to be New Zealand’s toughest downwinding paddling event, the Poor Knights Crossing is a 30 km ocean race that tests the abilities of even the best athletes! Entrants are asked to prepare thoroughly and enter at their own risk, however, the event is well organised and there are always plenty of safety boats that support the event.

Best SUP spots?

There is no one best spot on the Tutukaka Coast. The beauty of this place is that no matter what the wind direction, there is always a sheltered bay for flat water paddling, no matter what the swell direction there is almost always a wave and with easy access to SUP charter boat, and the proximal pacific is a playground for more extreme SUP experiences.

Our favourite places include: The Poor Knights Islands, Matapouri and Whale bay. For SUP surfing there are many beaches with perfect waves for training to SUP Surf including Matapouri, Ngunguru and Sandy Bay. Be careful though, our short board surfers out here live true to the surfing code of ethics, so if you are new to SUP surfing, best to get a lesson first!

Best DW spots

The best way to train for down wind is to get a support boat to take you out of the sheltered bays where you can get the oceanic wind and ride the swell at the same time! The best charter boat for this is the Silva Fox which is located in the Tutukaka Marina. The Silva Fox is the only boat that is run by professional SUP instructors and is affiliated with SUP BRO Paddle Boarding NZ.

And as a tourist…?

Plan to stay on the Tutukaka Coast for at least a couple of nights, otherwise you will miss out on all the cool stuff to do! As well as paddling you can scuba dive, go horse riding, walk through native bush, go on a fishing charter, tour the Poor Knights Islands, get a spa treatment, take a yoga class, go wine tasting and more!

While there is a hotel and campground, there is also a bunch of freedom camping spots and many Airbnb’s if you want a more personal experience. Bookabach is a great site to use if you are a bigger group. If you are wanting a no stress paddle trip, get in touch with the team at SUP BRO who can help you out by creating you a personalised trip itinerary!

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