Water Nomads New Zealand | Canterbury Lakes Surfari Trip

CANTERBURY LAKES DISCOVERY TRIP

South Island Surfari Trip

Wingfoil & Windsurf the Canterbury Lakes

A six night Wingfoil and Windsurf holiday to discover New Zealand’s stunning Canterbury Lakes in the Central South Island.

These High Country lakes offer epic wingsurfing in some of the most picturesque regions in the world. From crystal clear waters of Lake Ohau, Aviemore and Benmore to turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki and Tekapo. We aim to explore a different spot each day. The summer thermal winds are strong and reliable!

Our Surfari trips are all inclusive, meaning you don’t need to do a thing except book the trip and get to Queenstown (fly) or Twizel (drive).

FROM
NZD $ 1795.-
  • USD $ 1100.-
  • EUR € 1015.-

6 nights comfortable 3 star accommodation

Single/twin/double share available. Limited to 8 guests.

Meals

Fully catered throughout your stay - Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner.

Free Shuttle

All transport for you and your gear provided during your stay.

Flying in

Pick up and drop off - Queenstown Airport.

Local knowledge

We ensure you will be at the right spot at the right time.

Photos

Professional photos taken of you on the water.

What you want to know

Discover the Surfari Trip Dates currently available, your package pricing options, and if you’re looking to travel light, the rental options.

2025 Season

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Request a date that suits you! Get a crew of friends and join us for a Custom Surfari.

  • $2695 NZD Single room. 
  • $1795 NZD Double room / Twin share room per person (must be booked together). 
  • $450 NZD  available by prior arrangement.

What you need to know

Explore everything that is included in the Surfari Trip package, what you need to bring with you, and what skill level you need to be at.

  • 6 nights comfortable accommodation (3 star).
  • 5 full days in paradise!
  • Queenstown Airport – free shuttle transfer.
  • Free shuttle transport to each sailing location.
  • Plus free gear transport by covered trailer.
  • Sailing spot advice.
  • Weather conditions advice.
  • 6 x continental breakfast.
  • 5 x 2-course picnic lunch.
  • 6 x 2-course dinner with complimentary glass of wine.
  • your own equipment (unless arranged prior).
  • 4/3 wetsuit recommended
  • booties – helpful on the stoney beaches
  • sunblock
  • sunhat
  • water bottle
  • insect repellent
  • medications

If you are unsure what equipment you should bring, please contact us.

  • This trip is suitable for intermediate to expert wingfoil, windfoil and windsurfer (please note: we do not offer lessons or tuition).
  • Wind conditions can be anywhere from 12-25+ knots.
  • Water state can be buttery-flat through to large rolling swells, this is dependent on the lake chosen and wind strength/direction.

If you are unsure if this trip is suitable for you, please contact us.

What to expect

Your six nights fully catered wingfoil, windfoil and windsurf experience is based in the heart of the South Island. You are hosted in the peaceful settlement of Twizel. The timing of your trip is tailored to capture the summer thermal weather conditions, maximising your water time.

With many micro-climates from the valleys and ranges, the high country lakes can be challenging to know where to be at the right time to find the wind. With Water Nomads experience, we ensure you’ll be at the right spot at the right time.

If you look at the averaging wind statistics on most apps for the Mackenzie Country, you’d think it never blows there at all. But the reality is very different. The mean number of days per year with gusts exceeding 61 km/hr (33 knots) and 94 km/hr (50 knots) for Lake Tekapo is 69 days and 5 days respectively, and Mt Cook village (Lake Pukaki) 108 days and 15 days respectively (data provided by NIWA).

Early summer brings on powerful Northwesterly flows down the valleys. As summer progresses, these give way to a strong Easterly thermal pull up the valleys as the temperature differential between coast and the central planes increase during the day.

The five lakes on Surfari tap into these summer conditions perfectly. Our aim ultimately is to be in the right location at the right time to provide sweet riding conditions from 15 to 25 knots.

is 3 star lodge and offers plenty of room for everyone to hang out and socialise. Centrally located to easily access the five lakes. We cater for small groups of up to 8 guests, thus you will enjoy the large living spaces and comfortable bedrooms.

It starts with a continental breakfast, Artisan bread and fresh brewed espresso coffee to your taste (or tea!).

A hearty lunch is individually packed to allow you freedom to eat when you please.

The day finishes with a wholesome 2 course meal provided by our local chief, this includes a rich desert and a lot of tall stories around the table!

You are picked you up from and returned to Queenstown Airport by shuttle with a covered luggage trailer to transport your equipment.

You are driven to one of the five lakes each day by shuttle based on optimal weather conditions. We ensure you are at the right place at the right time to maximise your day on the water. It is however ultimately your judgement on your ability to sail in the presented conditions.

If you prefer to self-drive to Twizel you are welcome to join the coach transport each day or choose your independence. This is an ideal option if you wish to bring a partner that’s not into wind/water sports.

NB: Gear shuttle expectation is one board + foil + three wings/sails. Naturally you may have larger expectations, contact us to discuss your gear requirements.

taking professional action shots of you on the water which are available to purchase at discounted rates.

Where do you sail

The MacKenzie District of Canterbury offers a variety of great lake locations for wingsurfing, freeriding and speed runs with regular summer alpine thermals off the mountains, a bit like a mix of Maui and Lake Garda without the crowds.

The Water Nomads favourite lake pick. With two easy access spots its well known for its beautiful foiling and freeride conditions and its unbelievably clear water. There is an awesome swell building at the eastern shore if the Northerly wind direction is right. The wind here can be epic, regularly exceeding 25-30 knots, a spot where you can test yourself and your gear.

See our Spot Guide: Lake Ōhau

Situated right at Twizel township, a man-made lake created during Twizel’s hydro-electricity era. Lake Ruataniwha’s shallow water makes this lake a Surfari favourite for foiling, where the buttery-flat turquoise waters are a joy. This is the ideal location when the Northwesterly is too strong everywhere else.

Lake Aviemore’s thermal Easterly winds in the summer switch on like clockwork and are legendary. Lake Benmore is New Zealand’s largest artificial lake. Both of these lakes are very forgiving and super popular holiday spots, perfect locations for foiling and free riding.

See our Spot Guide: Lake Aviemore

Lake Tekapo is the northern most lake on our tour and is postcard picturesque with impossibly blue water, a sailing paradise with easy gravel beach access. This is a foilers dream come true.

Lake Pukaki is the largest of the three roughly parallel alpine lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin. The brilliant turquoise water sitting in the snow peaked shadow of Aoraki / Mt Cook. This is one of the most picturesque lakes, yet has to be the most fickle wind-wise on our tour, our goal is to get you out on Lake Pukaki.

See our Spot Guide: Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki

Water Nomads | Canterbury Lakes

See our Location Feature: The Canterbury Lakes

Frequently Asked Questions

The Mackenzie District is a large inter-montane basis. Essentially this means it is an elevated plateau ringed by mountains. These mountains help to keep most of the rain away, resulting in a semi-arid landscape. The Mackenzie district has long and hot summers. The warm summer season extends from November to February, where the mercury often rises past 30 degrees Celsius (86 F).

The average surface water temperature of the lakes in January & February is approximately 17 degrees Celsius (63 F).

This can vary depending on sun hours, wind, rainfall and snow melt from the mountains, and temperature changes can alter from day to day. The temperature can often reach as high as 21C, but may also go as low as 15C. For comparison, this is similar Spring or Autumn water temperatures as found in Auckland, or Melbourne. It is much the same as Christchurch summer sea temperatures. 

In the summer months of January and February the wind is very reliable the Mackenzie District. As a rule of thumb you will either be experiencing a Westerly frontal system or an Easterly thermal system. Due to being in the mountains the push / pull of these systems can be very difficult to predict or read in a forecast, and this is where Water Nomads are here to guide you.

Expectations play a big part on overall experience, one thing we can assure you is each lake we visit has its own personality.

All the lakes are large with a long fetch, so rolling swells are common, especially on Lake Ōhau. A comparison to ocean swells is often made, however no sea creatures with big teeth will be found! Lake Ruataniwha is the smallest and a shallow lake thus offering beautiful flat turquoise blue water sailing like a Fiji Lagoon. Brilliant for honing new moves and tricks you may pick up from other riders in the group.

Our Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip does not include sailing in the Otago Lakes of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu or Lake Wanaka.

The Canterbury Lakes are sparsely populated, rarely sailed and challenging to understand the weather patterns. Thus Water Nomads providing the best opportunity to access and sail remote and beautiful places that few others venture.

The sailing spots and sailing community is very strong in Queenstown and Wanaka so you can easily access these spots by joining the locals. You can certainly extend your stay after the Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trips and self-drive the Southern Lakes of Lake Wakatipu and Wanaka. We are happy to assist with spot information and local chat groups to get you going.

The group size is limited to 8 guests. All guests are expected to have an intermediate to expert proficiency, we do not cater for beginners or offer lessons.

The journey from Queenstown Airport to Twizel is 200km which is 2 hours 30 minutes drive time. The trip takes you through the Kawarau Gorge, around Lake Dunstan and over the Lindis Pass, beautiful landscapes of central Otago.

The Flight from Auckland to Queenstown is 1 hour 55 minutes, Sydney to Queenstown is 3 hours.

The drive from Christchurch to Twizel is 286km which will take approximately 4 hours.

Got more questions? Try our Surfari Trips Frequently Asked Questions: