Updated on February 6, 2020

The small town of Whangamata, in the Coromandel peninsula, has several islands not too far from shore. One of them, Donut Island is an old volcano that lies dormant these days. The crater has been filled with water and forms a small beach in one of the sides. Luckily, the erosion caused by water in the rocks has created a tunnel  you can use to access the interior. The tunnel, located on the south side of the island, is about 2 meters wide and 10 meters in length.

The best conditions to go are a sunny day with no wind. The waves can make the way to the island and the entrance to the crater a bit more complicated. We prefer a bit of wind as it adds a bit of fun to the adventure, but for those who feel not very comfortable with the kayak, is better to choose a day without wind. 



  • The sense of adventure. You feel like an explorer conquering a new territory.
  • The beauty of the place is indescribable. You have to see it yourself to understand what we mean.



  • You have to be lucky to have a sunny day. It rains a lot in New Zealand.


It’s at least a 3 hours trip. It takes about 45 minutes to paddle to the island (one way) plus the time you want to spend on the island.

Summer months, december to march, are your best bet for good weather. You really need a sunny day to fully enjoy this adventure.

Rental kayaks (singles and doubles sit-on-top) are available for a reasonable price in a shop at the corner between Patuwai Drive and Marie Cres in Whangamata.

Go with low tide. During this time the beach within the crater of the island will have more sand making it even more pretty.








Donut Island is one of the best-kept secrets in New Zealand. Relax on a deserted Beach, swim in an immaculate water or explore several caves which connect the crater with the outside.The feeling is of being in a lost world, a paradise in a simply stunning tropical and jungle landscape.



Location: Whangamata, Coromandel. New Zealand

Price: 45 NZD (2 hour rental). Other options available.

Useful Notes: Leave all your valuables behind. You might have to paddle through waves and can loose whatever you are carrying on your kayak.



For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:

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9 Responses

  1. Rabie

    Fantastic entry Antonio 🙂 what a coincidence I found it while browsing LonelyPlanet! I hope you and Amanda are having a great time in your big adventure 🙂 R.

    • Antonio Cala

      Thanks Rabie
      Sorry for the late response (I don’t know why I didn’t get notified about your comment)

      Did you ended up going to the island?

    • Antonio Cala

      It’s one of my favourite spots in New Zealand.

      Somebody said that it might be closed now for independent travelers. Better check it out before you go.

  2. Priyanka

    Hey guys, please don’t take kayaks from the location mentioned above. Corner of Patuwai and Marie. It’s located at Pier 20 and is very difficult to get out through the surf. There’s a Kayak hire place close to pier 13 along the beach much closer and easier to get to the island.

    • Antonio Cala

      I disagree.

      You will have to go through the surf no matter where you enter from. It’s true that you will have to paddle less if you get the kayaks where you mention but you will need to carry them for a much longer distance to get to the shore.

      Getting the kayaks from where this article says, you can start paddling in the stream across the street from the shop. More paddling, less carrying. A much better option in my opinion.

  3. Brad

    “It rains a lot in New Zealand” – While at certain times of year this can be true, for the area you are talking about this is actually not very common.
    Whangamata is known for it’s beautiful beaches and fantastic weather.

    • Antonio Cala

      I agree, Brad.
      It’s true that within New Zealand, Whangamata is one of the areas with more sunny days in the country.
      But it’s still NZ, and it rains more than the average if you compare it with other places around the world. That was my point 🙂

  4. Kevin

    This location looks pretty awesome. Never kayaked in the rain though. Are there any special considerations one needs for inclement weather?