Stellar Anderson, Lola Hadzikanc and Kathyrn Avery test their turning skills in the tight, winding channels of the Te Matuku estuary. Photo Sophie Journee

Mangrove mazes, eels and the chance to explore some of Waiheke’s lesser known backwaters were the highlights of the fourth annual stand-up paddleboard visit to Te Matuku marine reserve.

The guided paddle was part of a series of summer events run by Experiencing Marine Reserves throughout Auckland and Northland and saw 26 people get up close and personal with wildlife and vegetation (and a little mud for good measure) in the less inhabited eastern end of Waiheke – with just a little help and guidance from SUP Waiheke.

Event organiser Sophie Journee said that the start of the tour on an unprepossessing grassy field might not have looked like much. However, with a little wade through the mud, participants found themselves at the top end of Te Matuku estuary and, with the help of SUP Waiheke, two groups were able to use the stealthy paddleboards to chart a course through the winding channel of mangroves and spot kōtare and pīwakawaka flying overhead and mullet, snapper and eels splashing below the water. 

“Paddleboarding in the top end of Te Matuku estuary can only occur over the high tide,” Sophie said. 

“This year we organised the event to run in the late afternoon and early evening to experience Te Matuku marine reserve in a new light – and it did not disappoint! After excellent paddling instructions from the crew at SUP Waiheke, all participants, including a few who had never paddled before, were standing up on their boards and navigating their way through the mangroves.”

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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