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

Grade 2 Kayak Course

Regular price$1,299
Pay only $324.75 today with code "DEPOSIT" at checkout.

Suitable for complete beginners and paddlers with limited whitewater experience, this 4-day course will provide you with the skills coaching, river-time, and certification you need to kayak in the Coast to Coast race.

  • Learn all essential river skills
  • Achieve your grade 2 kayak certificate
  • Enter the Kathmandu Coast to Coast

Course Date:
  • Only 1 left!
  • Please contact us to join the waitlist
Certification guaranteed
Runs in all weather
Reschedule for free with 21 days notice

Want to do the Coast to Coast, but don't have a grade 2 kayak certificate?

  • Are you entered in the race, on the waitlist, or plan to enter in the next 2 years?
  • Are you just getting started, or have very little kayaking experience?
  • Do you not feel confident in your current paddling ability?

On Canterbury Kayaking's 4-day Grade 2 Kayak Course, you’ll gain the skills and certification you need through a safe and structured step-by-step process. Once you've developed your paddling ability and achieved your grade 2 certificate, you'll be able to train towards the Coast to Coast with confidence and achieve a race result you can be proud of.

Without certification, your Coast to Coast goals are simply not possible.

Many athletes aspire to kayak in the Coast to Coast but lack the skills and qualifications to actually make it happen. Without solid paddling skills and an official grade II certificate, your Coast to Coast ambitions can feel like a far-away dream.

In this course, you’ll learn how to read the river, handle rapids, and keep yourself safe. You'll also earn your grade 2 certificate, serving as evidence that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to race.

Once you've become a certified paddler, you'll feel confident on the river, your training will gain momentum, and you'll feel ready to kayak in the Coast to Coast race.

How It Works

  1. Book your dates at the top of this page
  2. Learn to kayak and gain your certification
  3. Email your certificate to the Coast to Coast

Meet Your Coach

Sam Milne is the most experienced kayak instructor on the Waimakariri River and the founder of Canterbury Kayaking. Through helping over 1,000 athletes prepare for the Coast to Coast, Sam has learned that every competitor needs strong paddling skills in order to be successful.

As Sam was completing his instructor training, he found that most Coast to Coast coaches didn't spend enough time teaching the skills that really matter. If he followed the norm, he knew his clients would be underprepared, nervous, and fall out during the race.

That’s why Sam started Canterbury Kayaking and created his own skills training framework. In this course, you’ll learn to kayak based on 4 whitewater principles that will help you pass your certificate quickly and stay in your kayak down the river.

After you complete Canterbury Kayaking's Grade 2 Kayak Course, you’ll have the certification you need to enter the Coast to Coast and the paddling skills to race with confidence.

What do I get with the course?

  • Free use of a boat, paddle, spray skirt, PFD, and helmet for the entire program.
  • 4 days of professional skills coaching with Sam Milne, the Waimakariri River's most experienced kayak instructor.
  • Up to 5x more experience on real rapids compared to other providers.
  • Exclusive discount on products from our gear shop.
  • Personalized advice on which models of multisport kayaks are right for you.
  • Official certification for the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.
  • Free second course if you do not pass by the final day.


The Coast to Coast race director says...

“If you miss out on the first round of entries you will be put on our waitlist. There will be 3 opportunities throughout the year where you may be offered an entry, and if you are offered a position, you must either have your grade 2 certificate or be able to prove that you're in the process of achieving it, so you should have started that process already. If you want to do the race you can't just sit on the waitlist and have not made a move on your grade 2, you should have actually started that process already. So when waitlist offers come out, you should either already have your grade 2, or be in the process of working towards a grade 2. My advice is to start working on that skill set now. I always get concerned when I hear of people doing their grade 2 certificates in December before the event, that's far too late, now’s the time to start”. – Glen Currie, 4/01/2024

Grade 2 certificates are valid for 2 years. If you remain on the waitlist and do not get offered a race entry in your first year, you will prioritised for the following year’s race.

No. This program is suitable for complete beginners as well as paddlers who have done a few days on a river before. We do, however, recommend that all participants do some flat water paddling before attending.

We will provide you with a boat, paddle, spray skirt, PFD (lifejacket), and helmet to use for the entire course FREE of charge.

You will need to have ALL of the following items (* = hire available):

All required gear is availble to purchase through us at a discounted rate and can be collected at the course.

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 paddling skills.

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 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 kayak course on rivers that are similar in difficulty to the Waimakariri Gorge but are safer and easier to access, providing you with up to 5x more experience paddling actual whitewater rapids.

This approach will help you become a more confident 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, 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).

If you are travelling from out of town, the North Island or overseas, plan to arrive in Christchurch the day before.

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 water time and learning outcomes.

Day 1: Meet 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 paddling on the river until around 12:00 midday. After a lunch break, we will meet for another theory lesson, before spending the rest of the day on the river 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(es) before going on your fourth and final river trip of the program. The program concludes with receiving your assessment outcome, plus personalised advice from your coach(es) on which models of multisport kayaks and/or sea kayaks would be best for you.

We aim to finish in Murchison around 2:00 p.m.

Your safety is our absolute top priority. While it's impossible to guarantee nothing bad will ever happen, incidents are extremely unlikely. We gradually increase the difficulty (and associated risk) throughout the program as your skills develop. You will progress from a swimming 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 do not 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 most 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 without a reduction in course quality.

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.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 148 reviews
Linda Mulvihill (Wellington, New Zealand)

Wow this course is amazing! Sam & Wil were a great team to help teach me and overcome numerous fears I had about paddling in grade 2 rivers, as well as what to do if/when your kayak flips. The approach is great with lots of building blocks and putting it all together step by step for you. They keep on pushing your limits in a safe and controlled way - lots of incremental gains to build your confidence and competency. I went from being terrified of being under my kayak, to doing a roll in the river in 3 days and doing things down the river that I didn’t realise I was capable of doing, and really enjoying everything! Thanks so much guys!!

Graeme Dodd

If you're looking to do the coast to coast and need to get your grade 2 certificate - book with Sam and Canterbury Kayaking.

I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to others.

Sam has spent over a decade developing and fine tuning a comprehensive system and approach that is safe, fun, challenging and specifically designed to prepare you for race day on the Waimak!

James Tyrrell (Christchurch, New Zealand)

I have just completed this course for the Coast to coast next year and had a great experience. Sam is extremely clued up on everything kayaking and is great at teaching it. He knows the process for different skills very well and is able to break down all of the steps and explain them in detail. I would highly recommend Canterbury Kayaking to anyone looking to get their grade 2 or just wanting to improve their kayaking skills.

Nathan Keys (Christchurch, New Zealand)

I had an epic experience choosing to do the Grade 2 Certificate with Canterbury Kayaking. The instructors Sam and Will led an awesome 4 days that were a perfect mix of gradually increasing our kayaking skills in safe yet challenging environments. Learning to roll the kayak and picking our own eddy and flow lines near the end of the course were major highlights. Highly recommend this course to anyone looking for a Grade 2 course for Coast to Coast, or just for a generally, all-round excellent time!

Craig Muir (Auckland, New Zealand)

I did this course to start preparing for the Coast to Coast next year. As a total kayak novice, I chose Sam after seeing some of his YouTube videos and liking his calm methodical style. Sam and the other instructors, Steve and Will, were fantastic. Great at clearly conveying some complex skills and they really took the time to personalise their instruction to each person. These guys aren’t just great kayakers, they are awesome teachers. The way the skills were constantly built on made the whole four days a constant challenge that was incredibly rewarding. I wasn’t expecting to feel that much progress while having so much fun along the way. Learning to roll has given me a lot more confidence to get out and push myself more than I could before. Kayaking suddenly feels a lot more exciting and a lot less intimidating. I’m already booked in for the next skills development course later in the year.

Canterbury Kayaking is an approved training provider, officially recommended by the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

Our safety systems have been independently audited and certified by AdventureMark.

All our coaches are qualified through the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association.