"Te Heke"

This relay race is locked in for February 22, 2020 at the height of New Zealand summer on the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf, just 15 km from the city of Auckland.

This is to become a signature event on the Auckland sports calendar and will attract paddlers from the 4 corners of the world, including California, Hawaii, Brazil and France, and the home of the many a champion in the disciple of Va’a, Tahiti.

The racing vessels shall either be a one man waka ama (outrigger canoe), surfski, or a standup paddleboard (SUP). Also we welcome 2, 3 and 4 man Waka Ama craft.

If you would like to use another type of paddle craft that is capable of making the finish cutoff time of 4 pm, we will consider your entry, and in all likelihood welcome you. All teams are eligible for spot prizes. Waka Ama (Va’a) teams are also eligible for cash prizes up to $600

The race will start and finish at a location to be confirmed, we are considering Palm Beach on the northern side of the Island. To complete the race, Waiheke Island must have been circumnavigated. This will take less than 5.5 hours for experienced fit paddlers. In 2019, the top 2 teams completed the course in 5 hours flat (in rough imperfect conditions).

SUP, & novice waka ama teams shall start at an earlier time of 8am, so as to meet the 4pm cutoff for finishing.


This is a relay event.

We recommend that you have a team of 4 paddlers minimum however, you may just have 2 or 3 if you are all fit and experienced.

We also welcome W2 (2 man outrigger canoes) relay teams.

Only one person shall be in the canoe/sup/surfski paddling at any given time. At any given time, the paddler in the racing vessel may be substituted out by another paddler who will have been dropped off by the support boat, and is waiting in the water for his turn to board the racing vessel, once the previous paddler has alighted/bailed out of it. This paddler shall then carry on with the race until he himself is substituted by another team member. 

Each team will be escorted by it’s own motorised support boat which will be carrying the other members of the team who aren’t paddling at that point in time. For 2 and 3 member teams there will be the option to share a support boat as long as the teams are evenly matched. We will be collating a database of support boats that you may use as an escort craft, if you cannot arrange one for your own team. 

Toby Timi Tahiti.jpg

In Feb 2019 Tupuria King partnered with marcel hellesoe in this race. they were just pipped at the finish line by the team of stephen roulston and manutea millon by less than 20 seconds, after 5 hours on the water.

We will be offering substantial cash prizes to the first team from the different categories that can beat our elite pair.

we are hoping to have both tupu, manutea, stephen and marcell return for a rematch in 2020.

Tupu King is the undisputed champion of the multiple disciplines of Waka Ama in New Zealand. He excels in both short distance (500m) and long distance (28km) and has a avid following from the Waka Ama community. His real passion is rudderless ocean paddling over distance, and this race suits him to a tee. manutea millon is in the top 3 long distance paddlers in the world coming 2nd to kevin jerusalem in te aito in july of 2019.

Richard and Ngaire Rae Pehi formed the mixed team for challengers to beat in the man/woman category. Both Richard and Ngaire Rae have a long history in Waka Ama and a swag of medals and awards to go along side this passion of theirs. Richard is now a Senior Master.(over 50) Good luck though, even if you’re a young couple, in heading off these 2 consumate professionals.

We, of course hope that they return as well. both thoroughly enjoyed their time on waiheke, although the race conditions were particularly challenging on that day. we’re confident that Nicky kingi will be pairing up with one or 2 other female teammates to provide hot competition in the woman’s category.


Hauraki gulf map


For participants that are arriving from the mainland, one mode of transport, and the least expensive to travel to the Island, is to launch your support boat at Maraetai or Beachlands, and motor the 10 km across Tamaki Strait to the location of the race start/finish at Wharetana Bay. You can either lash your racing craft to the side of your support boat, or paddle it across with your support boat at your side, escorting you. Alternatively there will be a large 16 m boat capable of carrying a dozen or more single wakas and it’s crewmembers, that you can board at Maraetai to get your racecraft over to Waiheke Island early on the morning of the event. This boat will also bring you back that evening or on the Sunday morning. Cost for this will be $90 return, plus $19 per teammember.

Waiheke Island, along with other islands in the Hauraki Gulf, and the Coromandel Peninsula , shelter the waters of the eastern beaches of Auckland proper from most easterly swells that have developed in the Pacific Ocean.  The northern coastline of Waiheke can still receive significant swell to its shores, and the southern coastline that faces the mainland of Auckland, is unsheltered from the prevailing Southwesterlies that dominate NZ's weather systems. Therefore, you may experience 2 separate sea/weather conditions during the race. The good thing is that the cold will not be a problem in the middle of our summer season. The biggest caution is over exposure to our intense Southern Hemisphere sun.


Climate & Weather Averages in Hauraki GulF


February Climate & Weather Averages in Hauraki Gulf Maritime ParK


High Temp: 24 °C

Low Temp: 17 °C

Mean Temp: 20 °C

Precipitation: 48.7 mm

Humidity: 65%

Dew Point: 11 °C

Wind: 15 km/h

Pressure: 1016 mbar

Visibility: 21 km




First 2 man V1 Rudderless team to beat Tupu’s team…$600

First 3 man V1 Rudderless team to best Tupu’s team….$400

First 4 man V1 Rudderless team to beat Tupu’s team...$200

First 2 man OC1 ruddered team to beat Tupu’s team….$300


  • Onetangi Beach Apartments accommodation for 2 nights (almost $300)

  • Motu Hoe paddle custom made by Tree Essence ($390)

  • 3wisemen.co.nz ( outfitters) dress shirt & cufflinks (value: $270) 

  • Olympic Pool and Fitness, Newmarket, 6 months Gym and Pool membership. (value: $480)

  • Awesome dreamcatcher pendant with turquoise insert ($238) courtesy of Johnny Sherry from www.diamondsdirect.co.nz 

  • Personal coaching clinic for 3 hours (priceless) for 3 paddlers by Tupu.

  • Casita Miro lunch for 2 to the value of $200

  • Mens Haircut on the Island by the fabulous Andre at Preto Barbershop valued at over $40 Check out his facebool page


Our intent, for this inaugural race, is to attract upwards of 100 paddlers in their respective teams, the majority of these being experienced paddlers from all corners of the paddling world.

We also intend to make this event a showpiece for the different Va’a manufacturers whether it be Fai, Are, Va’a factory or Tehuritaua V1 from Tahiti

or the OC1’s coming out of Hawaii manufacturers such as Puakea designs or Kamanu Composites or Kai Wa’a canoes from Kai Bartlett.

We also welcome teams who have less experienced paddlers in their ranks, who would just like to put this circumnavigation under their belt. The novice teams (4 or 5 teammembers) will be getting a 100 minute headstart. Looking forward to the future, we hope to, and are confident of, quadrupling these numbers in years to come, with the event gaining attention and a “to do event on paddlers calendars” reputation globally. .

Manaru hoe between eyes Te Aito 2018.jpg
Ash Te Aito 2018 Tahiti.jpg
Tupu Te Aito 2018.jpg
Mitch Te Waka Marcel good one.jpg
Te Aito Shell fella splash 2018.jpg