Buying an Ehukai OC1 one man waka (outrigger canoe)

Active over 60, Waka Ama
Ehukai OC1 outrigger canoe, 1 man waka

Here I am at 66 buying a brand new OC1. Mad or not, it was a great decision. To translate the jargon, an OC1 is a one man waka, actually a one woman waka (or one man outrigger canoe).

It was something that had been on my mind for a while. Missing out on racing at Waka Te Tasman, because of the weather last year, was just the thing to give me the kick I needed. I really want to improve my strength and technique in the waka and to compete with committed crews.

There is no hiding in a single waka; if you rest, the waka stops, if you don’t put power into the stroke, the waka doesn’t move all that far! However, being able to paddle on my own, at my own pace and times, means that I am able to do technique drills that are not always possible when one is part of a 6 man crew. But don’t ask me to ‘hup’ (call changes) – I now do anything up to 60 strokes on each side and completely forget to count when I am in an OC6 (6 man waka).

Having my own waka meant that training for World Sprints in 2018 was so much easier as I could go out by myself for training sessions. It also meant I could get out with others who were training for different crews. I can’t recommend it enough for that.

I love it! I’m still leaning a bit to the left, still challenged by getting back in and definitely not wanting to fall out. I am becoming more comfortable each time I take it out. There are more and more people paddling one man here in Nelson. Saturday mornings have become a bit of a social one-man time. Its great to go out in a group especially if the surf is up or conditions are a bit challenging. Safety in numbers and all that. Its also a lot of fun to paddle with others and then go for coffee afterwards. I still have the external dialogue going when things get tough which causes much amusement.

Ehukai OC1 outrigger canoe, 1 man waka

Why did I choose an Ehukai OC1 outrigger?

Initially I was thinking of buying a second hand waka. I asked around and no one knew of any for sale close to Nelson. Most of the second hand one man outriggers are fibre glass and heavy. At my stage of life I definitely didn’t want heavy.

Most of the ‘lads’ in the area here have Ehukai (designed by John Puakea’s at Puakea Designs), one has a Scorpius and there are a couple of fibre glass OC1s around. The ‘lads’ were so helpful, talking me through all the options, making me aware of the pros and cons. (Subsequently most of them have sold, or are thinking of selling, their Ehukais and bought Kahe Kai or Ares canoes as there is a lot of interest in downwind runs now.)

My decision was based a lot on weight. With a carbon fibre hull weighing around 8.5kg, its light to lift and carry. I can get it on top of the car relatively easily (except the day I got it tangled up in the lemon tree and had to fight to get it back). The fact that she is very pretty, has a protective cover, clips together and was brand new, were also deciding factors. The cover is a bonus as it protects the waka and makes it easy to slide into the cradles on the car.

The Ehukai (meaning sea spray in Hawaiian) came with covers for the waka, ama, kiato, a seat and rudder.

The narrow bow and low volume allow for easy pick up and acceleration. The manoeuvrability of this canoe enables the rider to respond to changing conditions quickly.

A narrow footwell allows blade entry closer to the hull, offering efficiency with each stroke. The Ehukai also comes with a footwell cover which sheds water from the footwells.

The Ehukai is built with Ozone’s innovative monocoque 100% carbon construction.

Where can you get an OC1?

I got my Ehukai from Paul Wilford at Ocean Elements Ltd in Auckland ( He was so helpful and he can give you a link to see what outrigger canoes are currently available. You can get custom designs made up, but that depends on when more are coming into the country. At the moment Paul has quite a few, but none as pretty as mine. Paul is also the rep for Ares OC1 by Kai Barlett.

Delivered to Nelson

Getting it from Auckland to Nelson was not challenging. Paul arranged for Canterbury Bulk Freight to pick it up. It went from Auckland via Picton, St Arnaud (because of the Kaikoura earthquakes) to Christchurch, back to Blenheim and then to Nelson and arrived in perfect condition. I was very impressed with the careful way Canterbury Bulk Freight handled it and how well Paul had packed it. It didn’t have a scratch on it.


Buying the OC1 is not the end of the spending!

Don’t think you have stopped spending money just because you have bought the OC1! There is still a heap of things you need. Other things you will need are (and the list is not definitive)…

  • Second spare paddle and a lashing (I use those stretchy physio bands and they are great)
  • Roof rack and system for the car (I ended up with a Thule rack) and 4-5m tie downs
  • Cradle for the waka which fits the roof rack (several iterations later I have an aluminium cradle from Mark Cresswell in Christchurch as it supports the waka better.)
  • Dry bag with emergency stuff (multitool, flare, radio or phone, eats, zinc lipstick, spare lashing and coffee money)
  • Life jacket (high viz)
  • Stool, as I am short and this makes it easier to get on the car and to do the tie downs
  • Bucket and cloth for washing down after paddling (I have heard of people dealing with rust in the car from not washing the OC1 down after paddling).
  • A over-length flag (an orange high viz vest is a great idea). The Ehukai comes with a cover with flag included. I added an extra flag with reflectors on for higher visibility.
  • A bailer, if your canoe has a cockpit and no foot pump to get the water back out.

Ehukai OC1 on top of my Corolla

Two years on I am still happy with my purchase. The number of Ares has grown and some are now choosing the shorter version of the Ehukai – the Kahele.

However, I now have a V1 as well as I caught the sprinting bug. That is a whole other story.

Waka Cradle carrying single outrigger on car



  • Brett Amos

    Hi Loved reading your blog.

    I am looking to get into paddling after being a keen Kayaker.

    What sort of cost is this model and how would it be in the surf around Mount Maunganui?


    • Kia ora Brett
      Great to hear that you are looking to getting into Waka Ama. I bought the Ehukai in 2016 and a lot has happened since then. I only paddle rudderless (V1) these days so am probably not the best person to ask. Paul Wilford at Ocean Elements Ltd is the NZ contact for both the Hawaiian brands. Check out to see what is available new at the moment. Most of the ‘lads’ here paddle Ares by Kai Bartlett from Hawai’i and use them for downwinders and surfing. ( Others love their Puakea canoes (

      There are quite a few OC1 paddlers up around your way so I would suggest you rock up to one of the two clubs in your area and chat to people. The Tauranga Moana Outrigger Canoe Club is at Sulphur Point, Tauranga and there is a club at Pilot Bay in Mt Maunganui.

      Most people love to talk about their waka and may know of canoes available. Canoes often come up on Trademe as well. You are probably looking at $7,000+ ish for a new canoe, but again you would need to check with Paul.
      Good luck and maybe we will see you on the water:)

  • Marina. Stephens

    Thanks for all the valuable information – I am novice researching best OC1 for me. A new world is about to open up for me – can anyone recommend suppliers for the Ehukai near Sydney?

    • Hi Marina, I love my Ehukai, however a friend recently has ordered the new model which is the Kahele from the same people. The reason I would suggest it is that it is shorter, but has similar performance to the Ehukai. For those of us with smaller cars a shorter canoe is a real bonus.
      Outrigger Zone will have a list of distributors in Australia – you might want to contact them to to ask if there is somewhere near Sydney. I did notice they have someone in Queensland. Their website is at They have a tool that you can choose colours and designs for you canoe.
      Good luck – I really recommend getting an OC1 and you can have a lot of fun.

  • Marina. Stephens

    Thanks for all the valuable information – I am novice researching best OC1 for me. A new world is about to open up for me – can anyone recommend suppliers for the Ehukai near Sydney?

  • Karen Ripia

    Thank-you Jan for your positive thoughts has help me heaps. Maybe one day after getting fit again I’ll give the National ago. First thing get fit, second get into my local waka ama club…..then enter comps….then hopefully i might have my OC1 waka…….

    • Give it a go, I wasn’t fit when I started to paddle so I would say the first step would be get into a waka and just start paddling. I had no idea where it would take me. I was a couch potato when I started and now I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. My V1 (a Fai Va’a) just arrived this week so its a new challenge. That is what keeps me going. All the very best with realising your dreams.

  • Karen Ripia

    Awesome to read this. I am nearly 60 and wishing to get back into waka ama at my own pace just to get fit again. I was with a women team in Aucks but since moving back to my home town i miss it heaps. Really wanting to buy me a 1 women waka ama.

    Na Karen (Ana) Ripia.

    • Jan Blythe

      Hi Karen
      I would really recommend it. Its great getting out on your own or with others in the oneman. I am very lucky to have quite a few (very patient) people to paddle with. I also go out on my own as we have The Haven, where I feel quite safe to paddle on my own.
      I am just waiting for my V1 to arrive (hopefully on Tuesday). After being in Tahiti for World Sprints and home of the V1, I decided to get one. I am aiming to compete at National Sprints this January in Golden Masters. The following year I will qualify for masters 70. So the OC1 will still be really valuable for technique training and the V1 for sprinting.
      At the moment there seem to be a few secondhand OC1 and V1’s for sale around and about.
      I’d say “go for it”!
      Cheers Jan

      • Karen Ripia

        Thank-you Jan for your positive thoughts has help me heaps. Maybe one day after getting fit again I’ll give the National ago. First thing get fit, second get into my local waka ama club…..then enter comps….then hopefully i might have my OC1 waka…….

  • Was great to see the entry about w1 as I am 70 years old & just started paddling with a group (w6) but once out in a w1 loved the freedom & going at own pace.
    The rack looks interesting as my car is similar make
    I hope to save up for a w1 to do some serious paddling

    • That is so great to hear. Good luck with getting a W1. The rack is a Thule and now I have a cradle which slots into it. Its much easier on the OC1 and holds it better for transport. Its made by someone from Christchurch. I’m not sure where you are. In a couple of years I will be paddling masters 70 too. I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe even try a V1?

  • Deb Hyde

    I loved your article. I bought my Euhakia last year, best purchase ever. I started paddling with a team OC 6, 2 years ago and just needed more. Your sentiments about paddling the OC 1 rang true with me. I also compete in the golden master division.

    • Jan Blythe

      Hi Deb, So good to hear stories of us young’uns getting out there and going for it in Golden Masters. Might see you on the water somewhere. Where are you from? I’m in Nelson.

  • Right back attcha Claire! Did you get one??? I’m afraid mine has been sitting in the garage for the winter. But summer is coming with longer daylight hours…..

  • Jan you are an inspiration! Miss you and the Maitahi whanau very much:) xox

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