10 years of Auckland Sea Kayaks

Doing it for a decade – 10 years of Auckland Sea Kayaks

Auckland Sea Kayaks was started in 2010 and has now been operating in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf for 10 years. During this decade we’ve seen the business go from a grassroots operation based out of Nic Mead’s garage, to Auckland’s leading sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding operator.

Nic has been passionate about Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf since childhood spending most summer days playing and exploring this pristine area with his parents and three sisters. So at 25 years old, and with stuff-all money behind him, he decided to show off Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf to international and domestic tourists.

Nic Mead young watersports lover
Nic Mead age 3 years old at Motuihe in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf
Boats arriving from the manufacturer, 2010
Boats arriving from the manufacturer, 2010
Auckland Sea Kayaks storage in 2014 before getting refitted into something usable.

In the first few years of Auckland Sea Kayaks, Nic was the guide, booking manager, sales person, caterer, cleaner and so on. As time went on and the tours got more recognised Nic hired the first guide Wade Batley to run tours in the summer of 2011.

Auckland Sea Kayaks first ever sea kayak tour to Rangitoto island with paying guests.
Auckland Sea Kayaks first ever sea kayak tour to Rangitoto island with paying guests.

A big break happened in 2012 when a New Zealand Herald reporter did our Sunset tour to Rangitoto. This was followed by an article which sang praises about what we offered and gave Auckland Sea Kayaks exposure we could have never afforded.

Auckland sea kayak sunset
Sunset tour 2012
Sunset sea kayak tour Auckland Sea kayaks
Sunset tour promotional photographs taken by Joe Harrison, 2012

Operating highlights over the years include:

  • Guiding international commercial expeditions to Fiji and Norway
  • Working with Channel Nine Today Show (largest Australian breakfast television) 
  • Hosting Bollywood Superstar – Sidharth Malhotra
  • Making front page of the NZ Herald Business and highlighting our success 
  • 2019 Finalist for 100% Pure New Zealand Experience Award 
  • QualMark Gold 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • 8 years TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 
  • Hosting return clients year after year

In 2017 Auckland Sea Kayaks purchased Mission Bay Watersports (MBW), Auckland’s oldest watersports operator which gave us access to beach rentals and the only street trading licence at Mission Bay. The philosophy of MBW is safe, fun and affordable and we are proud to get around 10,000 people on the water each year. 

Mission Bay Watersports offering safe, fun and affordable watersports
Mission Bay Watersports offering safe, fun and affordable watersports

The growth of Auckland Sea Kayaks has not been easy all the time. For the first 5 years, Nic had to work overseas in the off season to help with cash flow and keep the business afloat. Growth is expensive and funding this growth internally, without the support of a bank has been challenging. Every operational cost has increased however the cost we charge guests has gone down 10% from $215 for a Day Tour to Rangitoto to its current price of $195. 

Nic is still active daily in Auckland Sea Kayaks, is proud of the team that he works with and strongly believes Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is New Zealand’s most diverse sea kayak location.  

Some of the Auckland Sea Kayaks team 2019