IKW 2018 – a week of sea kayaking in Marlborough Sounds

IKW (International Kayak Week) is an annual sea kayaking event that follows a KASK Kayak Fest. Historically IKW has been a multiday social event that brings together local kayakers and visiting international paddlers in the vicinity of the location of the annual KASK sea kayaking forum – The Kayak Fest. This year’s IKW will be the week after the Kayak Fest and across Cook Strait in Marlborough Sounds.

Where was IKW 2018?

Based at and paddling out of Elaine Bay and French Pass Campsites, Marlborough Sounds.

When was IKW?

  • Part 1 – Elaine Bay – exploring the Pelorus Sound – from Monday, 5 March to and including Friday, 9 March
  • Moving Days – 5 (Monday) March, 10 (Saturday) March, 15 (Thursday) March
  • Part 2 – French Pass – gateway to D’Urville Island – from  10 (Saturday) March to  14 (Wednesday) March

– Paddlers could attend both Parts 1 & 2 combined or just Part 1 or Part 2.
– Depending on the weather – locations may change if conditions are going to be more suitable for French Pass/D’Urville Island etc. for Part 1.

Map of camp spots - Sea kayaking in Marlborough Sounds - IKW 2018Click on the photos to view the campsites and surrounding areas.

Organiser: Shaun Maclaren

Shaun Maclaren , “To me paddling should be fun, safe and challenging.”

International Kayak Week 2017 was held on Great Barrier and organised by Martin Morris. We were fortunate enough to have John Kirk-Anderson and Deb Volturno so there were plenty of learning opportunities. Continuing on from last year’s theme were rough water rescues – self and assisted, for those who wanted to grow their confidence in this area.

The Marlborough Sounds, in particular D’Urville Island, is a unique venue which includes some of the best and most spectacular paddling in the world.

If paddling conditions became too extreme, Elaine Bay offered a good base for walking or mountain biking nearby tracks or just chill’n on the beach.

Sea kayaking in Marlborough Sounds - IKW 2018

In keeping with the loosely structured nature of the week, these were the established IKW guidelines:

Who should attend this sea kayaking event:  

Intermediate and advanced sea kayakers – anyone with an interest in taking their sea kayaking skills further.

Intermediate = a paddler who is comfortable with winds up to 25 knots / swell up to 1.5 metres, who can maintain a course in wind and current and is comfortable with self-rescues and surf landing.

The IKW sea kayaking program:

In the best IKW style, doing what was possible and safe with the wind, swell and weather forecasts that we have. That’s the only way to do it really – map out the possibilities and go with the best option for each day.


Both Elaine Bay and French Pass are DoC run campsites.

In tents or vehicles on non-powered sites.

Elaine Bay – 20 non-powered sites (40 persons) – costing $8 per person per night – No advance booking required – first come, first served. Elaine Bay Campsite.

French Pass – 18 non-powered sites (36 persons) – costing $13 per night. Bookings required, however I am in the process of making arrangements and will keep you all informed of developments. French Pass Campsite.


The event was self-catered – re-supply provisions were available at Okiwi Motor Camp and at the French Pass General Store.

In order to save time, it was recommended to stock up with provisions prior to catching the ferry from  Wellington.

 How to get there


  1. From the Kayak Fest, catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton on 5 (Monday) March and return on 15 (Thursday) March or
  2. Catch the ferry on 5 (Monday) March and return to Wellington on 10 (Saturday) March or
  3. Catch the ferry on 10 (Saturday) March and return on 15 (Thursday) March
  4. Discounted group fares have been obtained for the Interislander.

IKW Group Rate Prices are:
Single Journey – $47 per person – Premium Lounge $55
Car/Van//4×4 trailer up to 5.5 metre $124 each ($20 for every half metre over 5.5 metres)
$15 ‘walk on with kayak’
Crossing takes about 3 ½ hours.
The Promotional Code and details will be sent upon receipt of individual paddler interest in attending IKW.

From Picton:

  1. Follow State Highway 1 to Spring Creek (towards Blenheim) – across to State Highway 6 to Havelock.
  2. The alternative is the shorter and slower, Queen Charlotte Drive, direct to Havelock, winding but scenic.
  3. Turn off SH 6, 1 km north of Rai Valley village into Ronga Road, which becomes Croisilles-French Pass Road. Continue through Okiwi Bay and after approx. 10 km turn into Elaine Bay Road. Follow to end.
  4. Access is by a sealed, narrow, winding road.
  5. For those who require transport from Picton to Elaine Bay/French Pass. Please let Shaun know at time of registration. A mini bus and trailer (8 kayaks) can be arranged at a cost to the user.
  6. Driving time from Picton to Elaine Bay is just over 2 hours
  7. Driving time from Picton to French Pass is about 3 hours, the section from the Elaine Bay turnoff to French Pass being gravel.