This thread is well-old now but in answer to some of the points made there is a NZ dealer of Hobies - Watershed, Barry's Point Road, North Shore City, Auckland www.watershed.co.nz
. They carry the full range of Hobies.
Hobie kayaks tend to be very expensive over here because of the exchange rate but there is an ever-increasing number of owners (personally I have owned 6 Hobies over the years - or is it 7 - and currently have AI and A).
There are also a number of local kayak manufacturers and olympic kayaking heroes - which leads to a bit of a culture that locally-made is best.
Because of only one Auckland-based dealer I am sure that Hobies are most common in the upper North Island but I do know that there are some as far south as Wellington.
I am not aware of anywhere that rents Hobies in New Zealand - but I am always open to offers (PM me).
There is huge community of kayakers in NZ as the conditions really lend themselves to kayaking. And fishing is a way of life here so unsurprisingly there are many kayak fishers. Fishing here can be incredible - Snapper, Bluecod, Kingfish (yellow-tail), Tuna, Shark, Trout, Hapuka/Bass (i.e. Groper) but you may need to relearn how it is done here compared to other places.
There are strict recreational fishing regulations regarding species, size limit and catch numbers - these vary between regions and are enforced both on and off water; falling foul will land you with a hefty fine so it is wise to know what the regs are.
The west coast of both islands, facing the Tasman Sea which is 2/3 the width of the Atlantic & the prevailing winds is subject to big swells and is therefore a mecca for surfing so kayaking tends to be more common on the east coasts and on the inland lakes & rivers.
East coast of North Island is fantastic for kayaking, fishing, kayak sailing and cruising - there are many beautiful, sheltered sandy bays with rocky headlands, offshore islands and campsites - all the way from Coromandel Peninsula all the way up to the tippy top plus the East Cape region. Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay are vast beaches with frequent surf. Offshore islands like White Island (volcano), Great Barrier, Little Barrier are well known for big fish but you have to get there first.
Inland lakes of the central North Island are huge (in the case of Lake Taupo) and can be windy. They are the home of some very large trout.
Cook Strait (between N & S Islands) is wide and frequently very windy and rough - not to be underestimated under any circumstances.
North of the South Island you have the Marlborough Sounds - fjords without the huge snow-capped peaks of other fjord-lands (Many campsites, good cruising & fishing) plus the Abel Tasman Coast (a beautiful 3-day there-and-back coastal walking track across beaches and headlands with huts & campsites which is frequently undertaken on kayak - many padlle-kayak rental outlets).
Inland lakes and rivers abound in the rest of South Island culminating in Fjordland and Doubtful and Milford Sounds - for wilderness (kayaking) experiences extraordinaire - just beware of the distances if you are thinking of driving!
Risks for kayakers include changeable weather conditions and the remoteness of some areas in terms of access and support.
Best time of year January-May.
Hope this helps.