Kayaker competing on the Kathmandu Coast to Coast race course with a grade 2 kayak certificate

Grade 2 Certificate Kayak Course

Qualify for the Kayak Stage of the Coast to Coast

Even if you’re a complete beginner, this 4-day course will provide you with the skills and certification you need to enter the Coast to Coast race.

Gain the River Skills You Need

Achieve Your Grade 2 Certificate

Enter the Kathmandu Coast to Coast

Want to do the Coast to Coast, but don’t have a Grade 2 Certificate?

This course is for you if…

You are entered in the Coast to Coast, are on the waitlist, or plan to enter in the next 2 years.

You’ve never kayaked on whitewater before, or have very little river experience.

You know you’ve got a lot to learn, and don’t feel confident in your current ability.

You’re worried about wasting your time and money on a course, only fail your certificate.

We believe you deserve the best possible start.

Train With The Coast to Coast Kayaking Experts

Since 2012 we've helped over 1,000 people succeed on the river during the Coast to Coast race.

We know the challenges you face as a first-time competitor. Our courses are specifically designed to help you achieve a race result you can be proud of.

Officially Endorsed by

Recommended by Kathmandu Coast to Coast as a preferred training provider.

Safety audited by AdventureMark and registered with WorkSafe.

All coaches fully qualified through the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association.

Meet Your Coach

Recognised as one of New Zealand's top multisport kayak coaches, and founder of Canterbury Kayaking, Sam has been teaching multisport kayaking full-time for over a decade.

  • The most experienced instructor on the Waimakariri River.
  • Worked with elite multisport athletes such as Jess Simson, Andrew Sclater, and Richard Ussher.
  • Grade 5 whitewater kayaker fully qualified through the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association.

Sam understands you might be nervous about your first time on the river. During this course, he will teach you all the skills you need to pass your certificate in a safe and controlled manner.

Course Overview

On day 1 you will be provided with a kayak and gear to use before being taught how to roll in a heated pool. Once you feel comfortable in the pool, you will progress to the lake and develop the skills you need for the river.

Days 2, 3, and 4 are all river-based. You will be guided through all essential river skills in a simple step-by-step process. We place a big focus on safety, river-reading, and building your confidence in rapids. We’ll also be sure to show you what to do if you happen to come out of your boat during your race.

On the final day, we will assess your skills and provide you with a grade 2 certificate. Plus, we'll recommend which models of racing kayaks would best suit you moving forward.

Our Simple 3-Step Certification Plan

① Book Your Course

You'll immediately receive an email with everything you need to know to prepare.

② Grow Your Kayaking Skills

Over 4 days we will work with you to develop all the kayaking skills you need.

③ Receive Your Certificate

We will send you an official certificate, meeting the Coast to Coast entry requirements.

How This Course is Different to Others

Improve Your Skills Faster

Our program offers you up to 4 times more experience paddling real grade 2 rapids compared to other providers, meaning you will become a more skilled and confident paddler.

Know You're Going to Pass

Our average pass rate is 90%. If you do not meet the required skill level by the end of the course, we will invite you to a second course FREE of charge (conditions apply).

Kayak and Gear Hire Included

We will provide you with a kayak, paddle, spray skirt, PFD and helmet for the entire course. You do not need to bring your own boat or pay anything extra to use our's.

2 Nights Accomodation Provided

To increase the amount of river-time you get, we will stay away from Christchurch for the nights of day 2 and 3. This accommodation is included in your course package.

Go from feeling like a complete beginner, to hitting the river with total confidence.


165+ Reviews


68+ Reviews

What People Are Saying

"As a total kayak novice, I chose to book with Sam after seeing some of his YouTube videos and liked his calm, methodical style. Sam and his assistant coach Wil, are great at clearly explaining complex skills and they really took the time to personalise their instruction to each person. The whole four days provided a continuous challenge that was incredibly rewarding. I wasn’t expecting to feel this much progress while having so much fun along the way! This course has given me a lot more confidence and kayaking suddenly feels a lot more exciting and a lot less intimidating."

– Craig Muir, Auckland

"Sam is a true professional, extremely knowledgeable and thorough with a well-designed course structure. I learnt so much and felt my skills progressing a lot throughout the 4 days. It was very worthwhile and I'm so pleased I travelled from Australia to attend this course as part of my Coast to Coast preparations. Sam's knowledge was invaluable. No matter where you live, if you are doing the Coast to Coast I highly recommend you book a course with Canterbury Kayaking. Thanks Sam for helping me get certified to race!"

– Chris Mcdonald, Australia

"Wow, this course is amazing! Sam & Wil taught me how to kayak and overcome numerous fears I had about paddling in grade 2 rivers, as well as what to do if/when your kayak flips. Their approach was perfect, with lots of step-by-step building blocks before helping me put it all together. Sam kept pushing my limits in a safe and controlled way - lots of incremental gains that built my confidence and competency. I went from being terrified of being under my kayak, to being able to roll up in the river and passing my grade 2 certificate. I really enjoyed everything! Thanks so much guys!!"

– Linda Thompson, Hamilton

What You Get

4 days of professional whitewater kayak coaching.
Use of a kayak, paddle, spray skirt, PFD, and helmet for all 4 days.
2 nights accommodation (for the nights of days 2 and 3).
Exclusive discount on kayak equipment from our gear shop.
Personalised advice on which models of multisport kayaks are right for you.
Official kayak certification for the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.
FREE second course (if you do not pass by the final day).

Learn the River Skills You Need and Qualify for the Coast to Coast Race

4 Days

$1,199 NZD


No. This program is suitable for complete beginners as well as paddlers who have done a few days on a river before. We do recommend that all participants do some flat water paddling prior to the course if possible.

The use of a kayak and all technical equipment is included FREE of charge. You will however, need the following items (which can be purchased from us at a discounted rate):

Due to the length and isolation of the race-route, there are no companies running grade 2 courses through the Gorge Section of the Waimakariri River.

While the Waimakariri is the river you'll be racing on, through our years of extensive testing and client feedback, we have found that the Waimakariri River is actually not the best location to help you develop your foundational skills for the Coast to Coast.

This is because the shorter sections of the Waimakariri River that are accessible by road are mostly grade 1 braids, and not challenging enough to help you prepare for the grade 2 rapids you'll face in the Gorge Section of the river (where most first-timers struggle during the Coast to Coast).

Therefore, we choose to base our grade 2 course on rivers that are similar in difficulty to the Waimakariri Gorge, but are safer and easier to access, providing you with up to 4x more experience paddling actual grade II rapids.

This approach will help you become a better paddler, faster. Once your training is complete you'll feel fully prepared to tackle the Waimakariri Gorge when the time comes.

You will need to arrange your own accommodation in Christchurch for the night before the course and the night of day 1. For the nights of day 2 and 3, we will provide you with accommodation in Murchison (included in your course fee).

Easy. Plan to arrive in Christchurch the day before your course. We suggest renting a car, however, a combination of taxi/Uber and ride-sharing with others in your group is often possible. Book accommodation in Christchurch for the night before the course and the night of day 1. We will provide you with accommodation for the nights of day 2 and 3. We suggest booking some accommodation in Christchurch for the night of day 4 before travelling home.

This program runs over 4 consecutive days to maximise your learning and reduce travel time.

Day 1: The course starts at 7:00 a.m. Wharenui Pool in Riccarton. After your pool session, the remainder of the day is based at Lake Rua in Harewood and finishes at around 4:00 p.m.

Day 2: We will depart Christchurch at 7:00 a.m. for Murchison. You will paddle on the rivers around Murchison from 12:00 midday until around 5:00 p.m. then meet for dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 3: We meet at Riverside Holiday Park at 8:00 a.m. for a theory lesson, then go kayaking on a river section until around 12:00 midday. After a lunch break, we will meet for another theory lesson, before going on an afternoon river trip until around 5:00 p.m. We will meet for dinner again at a local restaurant.

Day 4: We meet at Riverside Holiday Park at 8:00 a.m. for pre-assessment feedback from your coach(s) before going on your fourth and final river trip of the program. The course concludes with receiving your assessment outcome, plus personalised advice and recommendations from your coach(s). We aim to finish in Murchison around 2:00 p.m.

Your safety is our absolute top priority. While it's impossible to 100% guarantee nothing bad will happen, incidents are extremely rare on professional kayak courses such as these. We gradually increase the difficulty (and associated risk) throughout the program as your skills improve. You will progress from the pool to a lake, then to a gentle river, and finally, to whitewater rapids. We will never put you in a situation we don't think you can handle, and you don't have to do anything you are not comfortable with. All our coaches are fully trained in river rescue techniques and our safety systems have been independently audited by AdventureMark and registered with WorkSafe.

This is not normally a problem. Unlike many other course providers, our program will run in virtually all weather and flow conditions. By basing ourselves in Murchison for the days of 2, 3, and 4, we can access multiple river sections, providing different options at various flow scenarios. This means there's almost always a good river to go paddling on, even when Canterbury rivers (like the Waimakariri) are in flood.

Don't worry. Canterbury Kayaking is the only Coast to Coast grade 2 certificate provider in New Zealand to guarantee you will pass. If you do not meet the requirements by the fourth day, we will invite you to another course completely free (conditions apply).

Yes. If you are unable to pay in full at the time of booking, please enter the discount code DEPOSIT during checkout to reserve your spot with just a 25% deposit. We will invoice you for the balance, which will be due 21 days before your course starts.