Waimakariri Gorge: Skills Course

Waimakariri Gorge: Skills Course

Regular price$949
Pay only $237.25 today with code "DEPOSIT" at checkout.

Suitable for kayakers who have paddled the Waimakariri Gorge within the last 10 years and would like to improve their skills, this 3-day course will provide you with 2 days of technique coaching, followed by a trip through the Gorge on day 3.

  • Improve your kayaking skills
  • Paddle the Waimakariri Gorge
  • Get comfortable with the river

Course Date:
  • 6 left available
  • Please contact us to join the waitlist
Hire kayaks available
Runs in all weather
Reschedule for free with 21 days notice

Want to improve your kayaking skills for the Coast to Coast race?

  • Do you lack confidence on the river?
  • Do you have unnecessary swims, miss braids, or spin-out in eddies?
  • Have you trained hard for months (or years) and feel like you should be better at kayaking by now?

On Canterbury Kayaking's 3-day Waimakariri Gorge: Skills Course, you’ll receive the skills coaching and practice time you need to develop your paddling and feel confident on the river. Once you’ve improved your paddling ability and gained comfort in your boat, you’ll look forward to the Coast to Coast knowing you have the skills to achieve the race result you deserve.

Kayaking doesn’t have to be your weakest discipline.

Many Coast to Coast athletes are a lot more comfortable with running and cycling than they are with kayaking. But without the skills to handle all the features of the Waimakariri River, you can become frustrated by your mistakes and feel like you’re surviving the river instead of enjoying it.

In this course, you’ll learn how to make correct braid choices, cut through bluff corners with ease, and eliminate swims altogether. You'll also get personalised coaching on your technique so you understand exactly what you need to do to have more success on the river.

When you've become a confident and efficient river paddler, you'll feel relaxed in your boat and will be free to enjoy racing to your potential.

How It Works

  1. Book your dates at the top of this page
  2. Enjoy feeling your skills improve
  3. Kayak in the Coast to Coast with confidence

Meet Your Coach

Sam Milne is the most experienced kayak coach 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 nearly all competitors stand to gain the most from working on their kayaking skills.

Over the years, Sam has found that while “more time in the boat” does help, if that time is not well spent, it will only serve to reinforce bad habits and turn nervous tension into irrational fears. If he continued to advise his clients to simply “go kayaking more” many of them would continue to paddle poorly and take unnecessary swims.

That’s why Sam created a 3-day program to help paddlers improve their kayaking skills specifically for the Coast to Coast. In this course, you’ll receive technical skills coaching on the areas you struggle with the most, plus get time to practice your new skills on the Waimakariri River in a safe and supportive setting.

After you complete Canterbury Kayaking's Waimakariri Gorge: Skills Course, you’ll feel a lot better about your paddling ability and be able to hit the river with a lot more confidence during the Coast to Coast race.

What do I get with the course?

  • 2 days of skills coaching with Sam Milne, the Waimakariri River's most experienced kayak coach.
  • Trip through the Waimakariri Gorge on day 3.
  • Option to renew your grade 2 kayak certificate.
  • Transport and shuttle for the Gorge day.
  • Exclusive discount on products from our gear shop.
  • Option to hire a boat, paddle, spray skirt, PFD and helmet.
  • Drills you can take away and use to keep improving beyond the course.


Ideally, you will bring your own stable multisport kayak or lightweight sea kayak to this course. However, we do have lightweight sea kayaks available for hire and multisport kayaks can be hired through River Ninja Rentals if arranged in advance.

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.

This program runs over 3 consecutive days and remains flexible based on weather and river conditions.

Day 1: Meet at 8:00 a.m. Lake Rua in Harewood, Christchurch. After a flatwater session, the remainder of the day is based on the Waimakariri River and finishes at around 4:00 p.m. at Waimakariri Gorge Bridge near Sheffield.

Day 2: We will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Waimakariri Gorge Bridge. You will paddle on the lower 15 kilometres of the Coast to Coast kayak route until around 4:00 p.m.

Day 3: We meet in Sheffield at 8:00 a.m. You can leave your vehicle in Sheffield for the day and we will provide transport for you and your kayak for a Gorge trip from Mt White to Woodstock (upper 55 kilometres of the Coast to Coast route). We will finish at 4:30 p.m. in Sheffield.

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 10 reviews
Scott Gill (Christchurch, New Zealand)

I took this course to help improve my skills for Coast to Coast. Throughout the course my confidence grew and I gained not only the skills to get down the river, but also to enjoy the kayaking stage. I would definitely recommend Canterbury Kayaking to anyone competing in the Coast to Coast

Laura Wood (Dunedin, New Zealand)

I had an absolutely fantastic time on this course. I was really comfortable on flat water but lacked confidence on the river, this course really helped increase that (massively) and the teams experience and guidance was invaluable! Would highly recommend if you’re on the fence, worth its weight in gold!

Phil Damen (Christchurch, New Zealand)

This course has been extremely worthwhile. I've been multisport kayaking for several years & completed the C2C a couple of times but always wanting to improve my kayak skills. This course with Sam was just excellent. We covered a whole range of kayak skills with each one well explained & broken down to simple steps for us to follow. The whole course was professionally run, and I've come away with a whole lot more kayaking knowledge and skills. I'd recommend Canterbury Kayaking for anyone wanting to improve their paddling.

D Smith (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Having had a big paddling scare 2 years ago I hadn’t done a lot of paddling. This course gave me back my confidence and I found my love of paddling again. Every part of the course was amazing. Multiple types of great sessions. Sam is an amazing instructor and you can be confident doing anything in a boat when he’s around. Recommend anyone with any level of paddling skills do some courses with Sam. He’s professional, serious, calming and fun and he’s good company.

Nina Poletti (Christchurch, New Zealand)

I signed up to increase my confidence and further my skills after 18 months of no paddling. This course did exactly that, with Sam and Will’s knowledgeable and meticulous coaching meaning I left each day feeling safe, confident and thoroughly enjoying my time on the whitewater! While the weather didn’t play ball for the last day, Sam had a well thought-out Plan B (and C) that added another level to the previous days learnings. Canterbury Kayaking definitely stands out for their river knowledge (you’ll get the best lines every time) and safety. Thanks for an epic course Sam and Will, I’m looking forward to my upcoming Waimakariri Gorge trip with Canterbury Kayaking!

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.