About us

Our Story

A Better way to Train for the Coast to Coast

Canterbury Kayaking was born from the idea that everyone can learn to kayak, and to perform at their full potential on the river. They just need the personalized guidance and support to get them there.

After completing my instructor training at Christchurch Polytechnic in 2010, I began guiding multisport paddlers down the Waimakariri River in preparation for the Coast to Coast. While working with dozens of athletes as they prepared for the biggest race of their life, I realized that many still struggled with the necessary and basic skills of multi-sport kayaking.

It was then that I saw the potential to develop something better.

I wanted to create a place where multi-sport, and specifically Coast to Coast training, was the focus, not an afterthought. Inspired by this idea, I went all-in on creating what I hoped would become New Zealand's top multisport kayaking school.

Our aim at Canterbury Kayaking is to support athletes in reaching their paddling goals. Whether it’s to run grade 2 rapids unassisted, complete a race swim-free, or earn a spot on the podium, we’re here to help make it a reality.

We constantly strive to provide a fresh, modern approach that is effective and tailored to our clients. Our industry-leading innovations include: a focus on learning to roll, consecutive days of methodical instruction, plus utilising a variety of teaching tools like whitewater boats, sea kayaks, and video analysis.

It’s now been over ten years since I launched Canterbury Kayaking in 2012. I have an awesome team of coaches working alongside me, and we’ve helped hundreds of people learn to kayak over the last decade. We are passionate about what we do, and excited to continue evolving as instructors and as a business.

Learning to paddle requires patience, commitment, and no small measure of courage; but at Canterbury Kayaking we’re here to help you on your journey towards becoming a competent and confident kayaker.

If you’ve never kayaked before and are keen to get started, the best place to begin is our Grade 2 Certificate Course.


Our Team

    Sam Milne (Founder, Manager, Instructor)

    Bachelor's Degree in Adventure Recreation & Outdoor Education / NZOIA Multisport Kayak Instructor's Award / NZOIA Kayak 1 Award / Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Award.

      Sam Milne is the founder and senior instructor at Canterbury Kayaking. Sam grew up in Kaiapoi, North Canterbury and first got hooked on kayaking while studying at Christchurch Polytechnic. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Adventure Recreation & Outdoor Education in 2010, Sam gained his NZOIA Kayak 1 Award and was offered the role of lead instructor at PaddlerZone in Christchurch. There he ran Grade 2 Courses and Guided Trips down the Waimakariri River, and is where he first gained experience with multisport instruction and the Coast to Coast.

      Seeing the potential to offer a higher quality coaching service to the New Zealand multisport community, Sam launched Canterbury Kayaking in 2012 at the age of 22. The business started on a shoe-string budget out of his shared flat in Hornby, with a small client base of around twenty paddlers. Since then, Sam’s growing popularity among multisport athletes from around New Zealand and overseas has helped him build Canterbury Kayaking into his dream job. He now teaches kayaking full-time and works with around two hundred Coast to Coast hopefuls each year.

      Some of Sam’s career highlights include serving as the kayaking skills coach for Jess Simson, who won the Two-Day Coast to Coast in 2013, then the Longest Day Coast to Coast in 2014 and 2015. In 2018, Sam was one of the first people to achieve the newly created NZOIA Multisport Kayak Instructor Award, achieving the highest possible assessment marks. Sam has logged well over a hundred guided trips through the Waimakariri Gorge, and was recently been appointed the Canterbury Regional Ambassador for Whitewater New Zealand.

      During the quieter winter months, Sam enjoys getting in his whitewater boat for some personal paddling around New Zealand and the USA. 

        Meg Ryan (Instructor)

        Bachelor's Degree in Sustainability & Outdoor Education / Certificate in Outdoor Leadership / NZOIA Kayak 1 Award / Multisport Kayak Instructor Training / Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Award / Mental Health First Aid.

        Meg coaches part-time for Canterbury Kayaking during our busy summer season. At a young age, she was first introduced to kayaking by her keen whitewater paddling father. Interested in kayak instruction and everything outdoors, Meg began her career in Outdoor Education at Christchurch Polytechnic.

        After graduating with her degree in 2012, Meg worked a season at the Kayak School in Murchison, then completed three seasons instructing kayaking in North Carolina, USA. When Meg moved up to Outward Bound in Anikiwa, her career and reputation within the New Zealand outdoor industry really took off. She completed three years instruction at OB, before being promoted to Course Designer, completing three years in this prestigious role.

        Looking for the next challenge (and missing kayaking a little) Meg moved back to Christchurch in 2020 with her husband Dave - also a keen paddler. Finding herself back in the home of the Coast to Coast, Meg wasted no time in completing the Longest Day Race, enrolling in a Masters in Psychology at the University of Canterbury, and joining the multisport coaching team here at Canterbury Kayaking.

        Meg vividly remembers the difficulty of learning to kayak herself. She’s motivated in her work by the immense satisfaction in helping her clients overcome individual challenges and seeing them achieve their personal paddling dreams.


        Stephen Miller (Instructor)

        Bachelor's Degree in Sustainability & Outdoor Education / NZOIA Kayak 2 Award / Multisport Kayak Instructor Training / Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Award / Class II Raft Guide.