7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

Kayak­ing is a great way to enjoy coasts and rivers, and see wildlife. Try one of these spots for your next paddle.

If you’ve nev­er been kayak­ing before, you’re miss­ing a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence. The great thing is that it’s real­ly easy for begin­ners to learn, so why not give it a try?

Go hard and fast to get your car­dio, go slow to enjoy the scenery, or just float, relax and try your hand at fish­ing. Pack plen­ty of water and snacks, and wear a life­jack­et, hat and sun­block, and you’ll be up for a great day out.

Here are some of our favourite places to dip a pad­dle in South Australia’s nation­al parks.

1. Ade­laide Inter­na­tion­al Bird Sanc­tu­ary Nation­al Park – Winaity­i­naityi Pangkara 

Where to launch: At the end of Port Gawler Road

The man­groves at Port Gawler in Ade­laide’s north-west are a love­ly peace­ful spot for kayak­ing. There are two places to launch your boat: the carpark near the his­toric jet­ty at the end of Port Gawler Road or a small shoul­der about 100m before the carpark.

Head west from the carpark about 700 m to the riv­er mouth, or east to explore the nar­row­er parts of the channel. 

The man­groves are part of the Ade­laide Inter­na­tion­al Bird Sanc­tu­ary, so they’re an ide­al place to look for water birds, espe­cial­ly when the migra­to­ry shore­birds start to arrive in spring.

Kayak­ing in the Gar­den Island mangroves 

2. Encounter Marine Park

Where to launch: Near the Sec­ond Val­ley jet­ty, or near the Rapid Bay jetty

Whether you launch from the Fleurieu Penin­su­la’s Sec­ond Val­ley or Rapid Bay, Encounter Marine Park’s coast­line is a treat to paddle.

Fol­low the coast to the south-west and you’ll pass by stun­ning cliffs, sea caves and hid­den beach­es per­fect for a rest and a swim. If you’re lucky, you might see long-nosed fur seals and dol­phins, espe­cial­ly around Rapid Head.

If you’d like to extend your stay, there’s a car­a­van park at Sec­ond Val­ley, or beach camp­ing at Rapid Bay.

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

3. Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park

Where to launch: Perry’s Bend kayak launch on Riv­er Road, Noar­lun­ga Downs

Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park in Ade­laide’s south is a great place for a leisure­ly pad­dle or some fish­ing– take your pick. Put your boat in the water at the ded­i­cat­ed kayak launch at Perry’s Bend, then makey­our way north towards the riv­er mouth. 

Look out for water­birds like pel­i­cans, black swans and cormorants.

Top tip: Onka­paringa Riv­er is tidal, so if you launch at high tide, you’ll be able to car­ry your kayak­straight down the ramp and put it into the water, avoid­ing the mud.

Onka­paringa Kayaking 

4. Coorong Nation­al Park

Where to launch: Boat ramp on Bea­con 19 Boat Ramp Road at Gool­wa South, or Sug­ars Beach on Hind­marsh Island

The Coorong is a true South Aus­tralian icon. Locat­ed about an hour-and-a-half south-east of Ade­laide, this unique place is list­ed under the Ram­sar Con­ven­tion as a Wet­land of Inter­na­tion­al Sig­nif­i­cance, pro­vid­ing feed­ing and breed­ing grounds for pel­i­cans and dozens of oth­er species of waterbirds.

The North Lagoon in Coorong Nation­al Park is a great spot for kayak­ing. If you launch from the Bea­con 19 Boat Ramp, pad­dle towards the Mur­ray Mouth. If you want a longer pad­dle, you could go on to the God­freys Land­ing Camp­ground, which is only acces­si­ble to boats and also has toi­lets and a walk­ing trail. If you decide to launch at Sug­ars Beach near the Mur­ray Mouth Look­out, pad­dle south-east around Bird Island and Mundoo Island towards Narrung.

Wher­ev­er you start, you’ll have a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence. There’s plen­ty of wildlife, so keep an eye out for water­birds, birds of prey and long-nosed fur seals.

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

5. Mur­ray Riv­er Nation­al Park

Lined with riv­er red gums, the Katara­p­ko sec­tion of Mur­ray Riv­er Nation­al Park is an impor­tant breed­ing area for water­birds and oth­er native wildlife, mak­ing it a sen­sa­tion­al spot for birdwatching.

There are lots of camp­sites with easy slop­ing banks in Katara­p­ko Creek where it’s easy to put your kayak in the water.

Look out for water­birds like egrets, spoon­bills, cor­morants and darters, and birds like red-rumped par­rots, crim­son­rosel­las, and brown tree creep­ers in the veg­e­ta­tion on shore. 

It’s also a great spot for a bit of fish­ing, but be aware of the sea­son­al clo­sure for fish­ing for Mur­ray­cod.

Check con­di­tions and park clo­sures before you go dur­ing high water events.

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

6. Cof­fin Bay Nation­al Park

Where to launch: kayak launch area near Yang­ie Bay Campground

Cof­fin Bay Nation­al Park, locat­ed on south­ern Eyre Penin­su­la, is renowned for its pris­tine coastal scenery, tran­quil bays and abun­dant wildlife. 

It’s also home to Yang­ie Bay, which is quite shel­tered and has slow water move­ment, mak­ing it ide­al for kayaking. 

You’ll pad­dle through the Yang­ie Bay Sanc­tu­ary Zone in Thorny Pas­sage Marine Park, which acts as a nurs­ery area for a num­ber of fish species. If you look close­ly you can spot tiny fish jump­ing out of the water as you pad­dle by. 

The kayak launch area is con­ve­nient­ly locat­ed near the Yang­ie Bay Camp­ground, which fea­tures 19 camp­sites, toi­lets and a pic­nic shel­ter. Make sure you book online to reserve your spot.

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

7. Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanctuary

Where to launch: Gar­den Island Boat Ramp

With a res­i­dent pod of dol­phins, a 10,000-year-old man­grove for­est, and the Ships’ Grave­yard Mar­itime Her­itage Trail, the Port Riv­er around Gar­den Island and North Arm is one of the most inter­est­ing places to go kayak­ing close to Ade­laide. This place is known as the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary and is only a 20-minute dri­ve from the CBD.

Pad­dle north-west from the boat ramp towards the Gar­den Island Yacht Club. On the far side of the riv­er, you’ll see the entry to a wind­ing chan­nel between the man­groves. At high tide, you can fol­low the chan­nel for 10 or 15 min­utes and find out for your­self why this spot is known as Lit­tle Amazon’.

Once you’ve explored the man­groves, pad­dle back past the boat ramp, then fol­low the Angas Chan­nel and East­ern Pas­sage to North Arm and the Ships’ Grave­yard. Two of the most promi­nent wrecks are the iron-hulled San­ti­a­go and the rem­nants of the wood­en schooner Dorothy H. Ster­ling.

Along the way, keep an eye out for dol­phins. If you see one, stop pad­dling and wait. They are nat­u­ral­ly curi­ous, and will often come to you.

7 national parks in South Australia to go kayaking

No kayak? No problem!

There are plen­ty of com­pa­nies that can help you out with kayak hire or guid­ed tours, like Adven­ture Kayak­ing SA for Gar­den Island and Rapid Bay, Easy Kayaks for the Onka­paringa Riv­er and Noar­lun­ga Reef, Canoe the Coorong for the Coorong and Hind­marsh Island, or Canoe Adven­tures for the Riv­er Murray.

First time kayak­ing? Theseeight top tipswill help you get start­ed. Before you go, remem­ber to check the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA web­site for the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion about the park you plan to visit.

(Main image: Coorong Nation­al Park cour­tesy of SATC)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in July 2018.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living