• Three Day Cavalli Islands Sea Kayak Expedition

Three Day Cavalli Islands Sea Kayak Expedition

The Cavalli Islands is one of New Zealand’s most amazing sea kayak locations. This group of islands located in the the Far North of New Zealand’s North Island has been described as ‘Aotearoa’s best sea kayaking location’.

If you are after a remote sea kayak location, staying on a pest free conservation reserve, kayaking amongst wildlife, sea kayaks and between islands, then this is the perfect sea kayak adventure for you.

Spend three days in a kayak exploring the stunning Cavalli Islands, rock gardens and golden beaches in the Northland.

Our accommodation is in a cute 12 bunk Department of Conservation hut. Trip dates can be seen here. If these do not suit then please contact us for availability.

The History of the cavalli islands

The Cavalli Islands are a small group of islands 3 hour 45 min north of Auckland on Northland’s East Coast in northern New Zealand. They lie 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the east of Matauri Bay on the mainland.

The group consists of the island of Motukawanui and the smaller islets of Motutapere, Panaki, Nukutaunga, Motuharakeke, Haraweka, and Motukawaiti Islands. The main island is used as a nature reserve. These islands provide wonderful kayak rock gardening with a multitude of caves and tunnels in this area. The main island has a great walking track to the summit which is a wonderful place to watch the day end or start from.

The Cavallis were so named by Captain James Cook on 27 December 1769 during his first voyage of discovery. In his journal he recorded that some Māori “sold us some fish–Cavallys as they are called–which occasioned my giving the Islands the same name”. Cook probably meant trevally which is abundant near the islands, because the Māori word for that fish is araara.

On 2 December 1987, the hulk of the bombed Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was scuttled between Matauri Bay and the Cavalli Islands, to serve as a dive wreck and fish sanctuary. The move was seen as a fitting end for the vessel.

Tour Cost


$740 per person. Please note this tour is self-catered.  Minimum 6 people.



3 days, two nights.
Finishing approx 3 pm day 3.

Start time

Start Time

10 am

Start location

Start Location

Meet at Matauri Bay Holiday Park. – More

  • “Nic had created a flawless kayaking itinerary, provided for our every need and was a wealth of information about the islands.”

    NZ Herald, 23rd March 2013

  • “Only one word does it really: awesome! Awesome harbour, awesome team (and especially our camp leader) and oh my, awesome (in a hushed, awed sort of way) Kiwi birds. Thanks Nic.”

    Joanna sent via email 2016


  • Are there any biosecurity restrictions?

    Yes there is. Please help us keep Hauraki Gulf islands pest free. The Hauraki Gulf provides a haven for some of our most endangered animals and plants, including sea birds, tuatara and takahē.


    Check your gear and help keep our islands pest-free. To keep these islands pest free. See what you need to do before joining Auckland Sea Kayaks on our trip please go to www.treasureislands.co.nz

    When visiting pest free islands, or islands that are becoming pest-free, make sure you check your gear before you leave the mainland.

    Protect our wildlife

    Check – your gear for pests such as rodents and insects

    Clean – footwear and gear, removing soil and seeds

    Close – ensure your gear is zipped up (no open bags)

    When you arrive on a pest-free island, you may be met by rangers to recheck your gear.

  • How fit do I need to be?

    All members of your group need to be able to kayak for several hours over the 3 day trip period.

  • How many people can come on this tour?

    Minimum 6 people.

  • Is this tour catered?

    No, this trip is self-catered.

  • Where will we stay?

    Our accommodation is in a cute 12 bunk Department of Conservation hut.

    $15 per night hut fee included in quoted price.

What you need to bring

A comprehensive list of what to bring is sent to you upon booking. 

What is provided?

A comprehensive list of what is provided is sent to you upon booking. 

Meeting point
Matauri Bay Holiday Park, Matauri Bay Road, Matauri Bay 0478
– Get Directions

Tour Start Location

This tour starts from the Matauri Bay Holiday Park located in Matauri Bay. There is lots of free car parking.

Meeting point
Matauri Bay Holiday Park, Matauri Bay Road, Matauri Bay 0478
– Get Directions



The first Hine Moana young women's programme set off this morning in beautiful calm paddling conditions. They will spend 2.5 days exploring the waterways if the Mahurangi region, with an exciting talk from @redznzjourney tomorrow afternoon. Then @nz_sailingtrust will sail up and collect the rangatahi and they learn to sail the famous yacht safely back to Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland. They were excited and we can't wait to hear the stories at the end of the week @dukeofednz @visitauckland
Wētāpunga - Out paddling in the Hauraki Gulf we spotted a  beautiful Wētāpunga on one of the off shore pest free islands . Adult wētāpunga are the heaviest insects on the  planet, heavier than an average house sparrow. #stilllearning
#wetapunga #outdooreducation #eotc
Another great event organized by @emr_nz at Taumanu Reserve, Onehunga. Participants learned about local wildlife and conservation projects. We explored mangroves and what makes this harbour so special. Thanks EMR for including us 📷by EMR with @backcountryweb doing his thing
Kayak instruction with a different view today. Westhaven beach is right in the heart of Auckland and has a unique view looking back over the city and sky tower. The water is nearly always flat and you can paddle right under the harbour bridge for a bit of excitement @visitauckland
Just arrived at Motuora island which is our home for the night. We are out with a local high school exploring their local area.  It was a fun down wind paddle from the mainland with loads of waves to surf #outdooreducation  #doc @visitauckland
Teaching people about how wonderful the Tamaki estuary is. Thanks @emr_nz for having us along
Skills training before next week's multiday trip with Mahurangi College. @burto1 you legend!
It's just Autumn in Auckland today #rangitoto here we come @visitauckland
Finishing the day with an epic sunset from Motuihe island. We are staying here for a multi day trip with a local high school. Amazing place to stay with kiwi, tautara to name a few 📸superguideeric
Sun's out, guns out. Stunning weather for three days of exploring the Cavalli islands in the tropical far north.