Boat Hire FAQ

Q: What’s the best time to book?

A: We recommend choosing a start time about 2 hours before the time of high tide, if available. There is more water in the river and more space to explore around high tide. It’s best to avoid low tide when you are constrained to a narrower channel. Low tide is a good time to watch the wading birds in the shallow water though. High tide is at a different time every day. Please check the tide times for Kerikeri before booking. Find them here on the NZ MetService website:

Q: Do I need a license to hire a boat?

A: No license is required. Our boats are very easy to drive. Our staff will give you a quick briefing on how the boat works and how to navigate the river. We provide a map to guide you safely down the river, avoiding any shallow parts. In case you have any problem you can call our staff and they will come and help you anywhere on the river.

Q: How long should I hire the boat for?

You can get from The Stone Store to Waipapa Landing in one hour one way, or go half way and come back. We recommend a two hour minimum hire so that you can relax and enjoy the river, doing a full round trip, stopping frequently and seeing everything. A four hour hire allows you to stop for a picnic, have lunch in the pub or to fully relax and drift around at low speed. If you only have one hour then you can still get a taste of what the river is like.

Don’t forget that the time taken for your safety briefing is included in your booking time. If it’s your first time hiring our boats then we might need to spend some time teaching you how to steer the boat. Please allow for this in the amount of time you book. We recommend at least two hours if this is your first time hiring with us.

Q: What boat should I choose?

Each of our boats has a special personality of its own and each has different features. Some are very easy to steer and some are better for children or for elderly or disabled guests. we’ve devoted a whole page to describing all our boats: Our electric boats for hire on Kerikeri river

Q: What facilities are available ashore?

A: We have two main locations where your hire can start or finish. You can opt for a one-way trip between them in either direction (minimum 1 hour) or a return trip to your start point.

waipapa landing
Waipapa landing jetty

Waipapa Landing features a floating pontoon jetty where you can easily board your boat at any state of tide. There is a large free car park, a drinking water tap and public toilets located immediately next to the jetty. Within a few minutes scenic walk is Charlie’s pool, a great swimming spot with a beautiful waterfall. A few minutes walk away you’ll find “The Parrot Place”, where you can engage in conversation with parrots of many types and colours!

Kerikeri Stone Store wharf

Stone Store Wharf also features a floating pontoon jetty for easy boarding. It is surrounded by interesting and historic attractions. There is a large free carpark which is located on the other side of the river, a short walk over the footbridge. Next to the carpark is a park with picnic benches and free public barbecues, so bring some burgers to cook! There’s also Te Ahurea, a reconstructed ancient Maori village, Kororipa Pa, the remains of a real fortified Maori village, The Stone Store itself, New Zealand’s oldest stone building containing a museum and a shop selling unique and novel souvenirs. Next door is Kemp House, New Zealand’s oldest house which is well worth a visit. The Honey House cafe does ice creams, lunches or tea and cake. On the opposite side of the Stone Store is the Plough and Feather – a traditional English pub serving a range of quality craft beers and excellent food. In the surrounding area are many scenic walks and waterfalls. Just 15 minutes walk up the hill takes you to the centre of Kerikeri, the Far North’s largest town, where the range of shopping, accomodation, bars and restaurants is superb. Ask us for recommendations. There are public toilets on both sides of the river.

Q: These sound like great places to visit. Can I get out of the boat to visit somewhere in the middle of my hire?

A: Journeys up the river are even better if there’s a destination to visit! You can usually stop and get out of the boat for a break but you need to let our staff know in advance so we can be there when you get on and off the boat. Council rules prohibit leaving your boat unattended at the public jetties because it would obstruct other boats. If you would like to take a break from your hire then please let us know – we can take your boat to a safe mooring when you get off it and then we return the boat when you are ready. This allows you to stop for lunch in the cafe or pub at Stone Store (or to walk up from Waipapa landing and have a swim at Charlie’s hole) before boarding your boat again for the return trip. A two hour hire usually gives enough time to take a 20 minute break for a quick drink or an ice cream. If you’d like to stop for a pub lunch then please book at least three hours.

Q: Where is your base?

Electric Boat Co Marina

A: Our base is at our own little marina, located in a scenic location half way between the two boarding locations described above, so we are never far away if you need help. We do not normally start or finish hires at our base due to difficult access from the road and lack of parking, but local residents within walking distance can start there on request. We usually bring the boats to one of the public jetties (described above) and meet you there. You can stop and say “hi” at our marina in the middle of your trip if you fancy a break.

Q: What should I bring?

A: Our boats don’t have space or capacity for large bags so just bring essentials. Please make sure to bring sun cream, a sun hat and sun glasses (polarised type is best to eliminate reflection from the water). A lightweight windproof/waterproof jacket and/or spare warm clothes are a good idea whatever the weather forecast. It can be chilly in the wind even on sunny days.

Q: Where do you source your power? Is the electricity carbon-free?

A: Our boats feature solar panels which provide a significant proportion of the power requirements. We supplement that with a large solar array at our base, where we plug the boats in when they are not in use. If they are hired continuously for several days in a row or if the weather is cloudy then sometimes we do need to top up the batteries by charging them with mains electricity. Fortunately the electricity supply in Northland comes from geothermal power which is generated locally at Ngawha by pumping water through volcanic rock to heat it (try swimming in the hot springs there to see where the power comes from!). We are proud that the mains electricity supply in Northland is truly sustainable.

Q: Can we stop somewhere by anchoring?

A: An anchor is available, please ask our staff. If you’d like to sit and eat a picnic on board, or just relax in the middle of the river without thinking about steering, then you can throw out the anchor or tie the boat to one of our moorings. Our anchors are lightweight and easy to pull back up. The river is mostly only a couple of metres (7ft) deep so anchoring is easy, but you might get a bit muddy when you recover the anchor. If you are thinking of anchoring then please ask our staff to recommend a suitable location.

Q: What about shallow water and hazards?

A: An on board navigation computer or a printed map will be provided for you by our staff and will guide you through safe water. Shallow areas and hazards are highlighted so you can clearly identify the safe water. We recommend hiring our boats during the hours around high tide when the river is much wider and deeper, then you can explore a larger area. The two hours before high tide is perfect because then the water is rising and will lift you off again if you get stuck in shallow water. If you do get stuck in the mud then don’t worry. Please stop the motor to avoid damage, call us quick and we’ll come to tow you out. Tide times for each date are listed at:

Q: What if I damage the boat?

A: Our boats are very tough and the bigger ones have rubber protection all around so you’re very unlikely to damage them, but please do take good care of them! You are responsible for the cost of any damage you cause during your hire, but not for any equipment failure outside your control.

Q: What is the maximum speed of the boats?

A: A 5 knot speed limit applies to all boats on the Kerikeri river. That’s about 9km/hour. The speed of our boats is limited to make sure you don’t exceed the speed limit. The electric boats we sell for use outside the river can go much faster.

Q: What safety equipment is required:

A: We fully comply with all relevant safety legislation and we are regularly inspected to ensure compliance. All our boats are equipped with lifejackets. Before your hire starts our staff will provide safety information and answer any questions. Our boats come equipped with adult lifejackets. Child lifejackets are available in a range of different sizes. It is essential to let us know the weights of your children before the hire so we can make sure to put the right size lifejackets on your boat. Lifejackets should be worn at all times. On the smaller boats this is required. On our English River Launch you are not required to wear the lifejackets all the time.

Sun cream, sun glasses and some warm, waterproof or windproof clothing are safety equipment too. Don’t forget to bring them!

Q: What time will my hire actually start and end?

A: Please arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. We often have several boats scheduled to start at the same time so it may take a bit of time to provide the necessary safety information and to answer everyone’s questions. Please be patient. Usually everyone is out on the water within 20 minutes of the booked start time. Please make sure to arrive back at your destination before the scheduled end time because someone else might be waiting for your boat. Additional charges will apply if you are late. If you’d like to extend your hire period then please call us as early as possible to request an extension. We can usually oblige unless the boats are fully booked for the following period.

Q: Can we swim?

A: Swimming in the tidal river can be hazardous and muddy. We recommend walking upstream from Waipapa Landing to swim at Charlie’s Rock, where you can dive and swim under a beautiful waterfall after your boat hire. The fairy pools upstream from Stone Store are another good swimming spot within walking distance. Swimming off the electric boats is not allowed under any circumstances due to our license conditions.

Q: Can we catch fish or collect kai moana?

A: We do not allow fishing on any of our boats. Fish hooks can be hazardous, fishing line can get tangled around the propeller and cause expensive damage to the motor, fish guts make a big mess and would leave the boat smelly for the next person. As a sustainable activity we prefer to leave the fish in the water. If you stop the boat and quietly look down then you’ll probably see fish swimming around you.

For similar reasons we do not allow the collection of shellfish or other kai moana on our boats. Fishing charters are available from other businesses in the Bay of Islands.

Q: How do I use my discount coupon

On the final page of the booking process, before you click “checkout”, there’s a link at the bottom to add a discount coupon code. Enter your code there and the price will be updated. This is for discounts, not for gift cards with a monetary value.

Q: How do I use my gift card voucher

A: After you purchase a voucher or gift card, the supplier should provide you with a voucher number. This is printed on the card or sent to you by email. To ensure you get your preferred boat, date and time slot, please place your reservation early. You can place your reservation on our website, where the interactive calendar will show you which boats are available at which times:

When you reach the “Checkout” page, please enter your voucher code into the “Gift card number” section. The total price will then be reduced. If the voucher covers the full cost then no payment details are required. After entering your name and contact details you can click the “Complete your booking” button to confirm your booking.

If you decide to upgrade to a larger boat or a longer time than the voucher value covers, then you can select your preferred options on the booking page. At the checkout page you’ll only need to pay the extra for the difference in price.

If you have any problems placing your booking online then please contact us by email: or give Chris a call on 021 637 911.

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