Judges Bay is a great space for beginner standup paddleboarding and for those looking for a launching spot for longer paddles into Hobson Bay or even Mechanics Bay.
Free parking on Judges Bay Road and also beside Parnell Baths.
From the beach. Simple.
There are public toilets and showers at Judges Bay and an outdoor shower for washing your board down.
A short walk up the road, there's a cafe on Gladstone Road or you can take a short drive into Parnell or to Orakei Bay Village.
Judges Bay can only be used for stand up paddling for around 2.5 hours either side of high tide. Otherwise there isn't enough water to be able to move freely around the area.
Judges Bay is a very sheltered spot in most wind directions. It's a great place for taking your first paddle strokes because you are almost guaranteed flat water and the bay is very enclosed. So you need have no worries about being blown off shore. For those developing advanced skills, its also a great place for practicing beach starts and pivot turns.
Southerly and westerly wind directions: The hills around the water shelter it to a considerable extent.
Northerly wind direction: The railway embankment provides some shelter once you've paddled over there.
While the immediate area of Judges Bay appears small, it's possible to paddle past Parnell Baths and out into Hobson Bay. If you are doing this be cautious of the stronger currents in the narrow channel by the Baths and currents and disturbed water at Point Resolution Bridge.
Easterly wind direction: When a strong (15 knot plus) easterly wind blows it channels straight into Judges Bay.
Southerly and westerly wind directions: while Judges Bay itself is sheltered if you venture into Hobson Bay, your are headed into a much larger and more exposed expanse of water. So in 12 knot plus winds you'll find choppy water in Hobson Bay and the directions you can take for an enjoyable paddle will be very limited. In strong winds of 15 knots plus it will become very difficult to paddle into or across the wind.
While the corner of Judges Bay beside the Parnell Baths carpark often looks still and inviting, be aware of the oyster bed. It runs from the carpark across the Bay towards the railway embankment. Take a look at the map and you can see it. The oyster bed will cause nasty cuts if you fall off and land on it and it may damage your board or fin if there's not enough water to paddle safely over it.
We'd advise it's an area of Judges Bay best avoided and if you are heading out past Parnell Baths, make sure your route keeps you close to the railway embankment side of the bay.
After heavy rainfall check the SafeSwim website for any water quality alerts.
Lastly, keep your equipment close to you and in sight especially in summer when Judges Bay is busy. Sadly it's not usual to experience theft here.
While we've aimed to point out the key features of this location, our guide is not intended to be exhaustive. Please be mindful of any risks you identify when paddling and if in doubt, be cautious.
Photo credit: Scott Sinton