Want to be a marine kayaker like our Nathan? Here are his top tips.


The right cloth­ing is a must. On a hot day, I wear a thin, long-sleeved, UV-resis­tant top that allows wind to pass eas­i­ly through the fibres for cool, unre­strict­ed pad­dling. A hat and sun­glass­es are also essen­tial, as is a good dose of sun­screen. On cold win­tery days, I lay­er up with a meri­no shirt under­neath a wind­proof kayak jack­et. Gloves are handy, too, for warmth. But there’s one piece of kit you must invest in and wear at all times: a per­son­al flota­tion device (PFD). I would nev­er go out with­out one. If things turn bad, it will be the one thing that brings you home.


For short trips around the har­bour, Itake snacks and water. For longer trips, I often take a cook­er and meals that are prepacked in sealed bags. I’ve been known to throw a nice piece of steak and some pota­toes in a cool­er-bag and enjoy a nice fry-up on a qui­et beach some­where after a long morn­ing of pad­dling! On mul­ti-day trips, I take food packed with pro­tein and ener­gy. But it’s imper­a­tive for any kayak­ing ses­sion, no mat­ter how short or long, to take lots of water. Your body will quick­ly shut down with­out it.


Before you ven­ture out for the first time, skill up. Find out how to deal with dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios should things turn bad. How do you get back into a kayak on the water? Prac­tise your tech­nique until it becomes habit. There are kayak­ing clubs around to help with this sort of thing. Invest in an EPIRB (emer­gen­cy posi­tion-indi­cat­ing radio bea­con). If needs be, you sim­ply push a but­ton and the coast­guard will come to your exact loca­tion. I take a VHF radio and GPS, too. Pumps and pad­dle floats are oth­er key items because, quite sim­ply, your life is worth the invest­ment.

Pho­to by Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media Ser­vices info@dscribe.co.nz


I need my essen­tials to be with­in easy reach. My kayak has two large stor­age hatch­es, and two small­er, day hatch­es for water, snacks and cam­era gear. The big­ger hatch­es are used for cook­ing equip­ment, a tent for mul­ti-day trips, sleep­ing bags and food. It is quite sur­pris­ing, when packed cor­rect­ly, just how much you can cram into a kayak! In the big­ger hatch­es, every­thing should be put in a dry bag to pro­tect your gear from water, and any rub­bing that may occur.


Use a water­proof cam­era, or a cam­era with hous­ing to pre­vent it from being destroyed by salt water. Small action cam­eras are great, but some take wide-angle pho­tos and offer no zoom func­tion, so sub­jects can look fur­ther away than they real­ly are. Smart­phones take incred­i­ble pho­tos and offer a pret­ty good zoom. This helps if you are near marine life that you can’t get too close to. (Make sure you research all the DOC rules and reg­u­la­tions to pro­tect our marine life.) Take your time, keep the hori­zon lev­el, and learn about light and how it affects your shot. For a stead­ier shot, lock your arms on your kayak, using them like a tripod.


Kayak­ing has changed my life. I now work with peo­ple and organ­i­sa­tions beyond my wildest dreams (like UNO. Mag­a­zine!). I can’t stress enough the safe­ty knowl­edge required for being on the water, but once you have gained enough skills, get out and utilise our beau­ti­ful ocean and water­ways, and get back in touch with nature. I doubt you’ll regret it. If you have any ques­tions, or I can help in any way, get in con­tact with me on Face­book. And, be good to the ocean!

THE OCEAN is my go-to place for clear­ing thoughts, work­ing out, and allow­ing the pos­i­tive ions to com­plete­ly sat­u­rate me and enhance my gen­er­al well­be­ing. I always come off the water smil­ing from ear to ear; see­ing sharks, orcas and seals is just a bonus.’

Insta­gram: @marine_life_kayak­er

Face­book: nathan.pettigrew.18