Prepare for the Kayak Stage of the Coast to Coast Race

Become Grade 2 Certified - Improve Your Kayaking Skills - Experience the Waimakariri River

Canterbury Kayaking provides New Zealand’s most comprehensive skills training system for the Coast to Coast. Run by Sam Milne, the Waimakariri River’s most experienced multisport kayak coach.

$1,199 (4 Days)

Grade 2 Certification

Suitable for complete beginners and paddlers with limited river experience wanting to enter the Coast to Coast race.
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$899 (3 Days)

Skills Improvement

Suitable for multisport paddlers who want to further develop their kayaking skills beyond the basics.
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$429 (1 Day)

Waimakariri Gorge Trips

Suitable for certified paddlers who want to gain experience on the river in preparation for the Coast to Coast race.
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For many Coast to Coast kayakers, the biggest challenge is gaining the nessasary skills in time for race day.

If you do not gain the kayaking skills and river experience you need, you could be in for a disappointing and frustrating experience on the river. Canterbury Kayaking helps Coast to Coast paddlers become skilled and confident kayakers quickly, so they can enjoy their race and achieve results they can be proud of.

Get Expert Coaching from Qualified Instructors

Programs designed & led by the Waimakariri River’s most experienced kayak coach, Sam Milne. All coaches are qualified through the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA).

Enjoy a Stress-Free Certification Experience

Assessments (and refreshers) are available any time you paddle with us. A FREE second course is offered to first-time candidates who need more time to reach the required skill level.

Join a Proven Plan for Coast to Coast Success

We can help you progress your kayaking ability from any level. Become a competent river paddler as fast as possible so you are totally ready for the Coast to Coast by February.

Our 3-Stage Coast to Coast Skills Plan

Every year, a significant number of first-time participants fall out of their kayaks during the Coast to Coast race. Through listening to hundreds of athletes’ stories, we discovered a common issue: many course providers fail to adequately prepare paddlers for the rapids of the Waimakariri Gorge.

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast explicitly advises first-time competitors to invest in “a minimum of 6 instructional days on grade 2 whitewater”, plus Guided Trips on the race route. However, even with this guidance in place, a large number of athletes overlook (or underestimate) the importance of this, resulting in insufficient skills by race day.

Complicating matters further, most kayak course providers mistakenly push beginners into multisport kayaks before they have fully developed their whitewater and river-reading skills. Due to the increased difficulty and risk associated with racing kayaks, this restricts a lot of the training to grade 1 locations, impeding the learning process and rendering the recommended 6 days of instruction on grade 2 unattainable.

Having made these same mistakes early in his own career, and recognising the problem, Canterbury Kayaking’s founder and lead coach, Sam Milne, meticulously crafted a 3-Stage Coast to Coast Skills Plan designed for ambitious beginners who are determined to excel and avoid falling out during their Coast to Coast race.

Stage 1 – Skills Foundation

Our Grade 2 Kayak Course is the foundational cornerstone of our skills program. In this phase, we dedicate 4 immersive days to developing your essential whitewater paddling skills. Significantly, three of these days are spent on actual grade 2 runs that mirror the complexities and difficulty of the Waimakariri Gorge. This approach accelerates the development of your river-reading ability and boat-handling skills, in an infinitely safer and more effective way than jumping straight into a racing kayak before you are ready.

Stage 2 – Racing Specific Skills

Our Skills Improvement Course bridges the gap between learning how to kayak and transforming into a confident and efficient mutisport paddler. Over 3 additional days, you will build on the skills learned during your first course and transfer these into your racing kayak on the Waimakariri River. We will guide you through the intricacies of paddling a multisport kayak down the the Coast to Coast race route including the Waimakariri Gorge. This culminates in a total of 6 days of instruction on the river, satisfying the Coast to Coast’s minimum recommendations.

Stage 3 – Time on the Race Course

Our final stage involves a single-day Guided Trip through the Waimakariri Gorge. Offering you the opportunity to refine your skills while gaining familiarity and comfort with the river in a safe and supportive setting. Coast to Coast states that these trips are “extremely beneficial” as they help create self-reliant competitors who are less likely to require assistance from the safety crew and will ultimately enjoy their race more.

Dates for the 2023 – 2024 Season:

Grade 2 Certification

  • Aug 29–Sep 1 (Tue–Fri) 2023
  • Sep 6–9 (Wed–Sat) 2023
  • Sep 14–17 (Thu–Sun) 2023
  • Sep 28–Oct 1 (Thu–Sun) 2023
  • Oct 4–7 (Wed–Sat) 2023
  • Oct 19–22 (Thu–Sun) 2023
  • Oct 26–29 (Thu–Sun) 2023
  • Dec 15–18 (Fri–Mon) 2023
  • Mar 6–9 (Wed–Sat) 2024
  • Mar 14–17 (Thu–Sun) 2024
  • Mar 22–25 (Fri–Mon) 2024
  • Apr 3–6 (Wed–Sat) 2024
  • Apr 11–14 (Thu–Sun) 2024
  • May 1–4 (Wed–Sat) 2024
  • May 9–12 (Thu–Sun) 2024
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Skills Improvement

  • November 1–3 (Wed–Fri) 2023
  • November 9–11 (Thu–Sat) 2023
  • November 18–20 (Sat–Mon) 2023
  • November 21–23 (Tue–Thu) 2023
  • November 28–30 (Tue–Thu) 2023
  • December 7–9 (Thu–Sat) 2023
  • December 20–22 (Wed–Fri) 2023
  • January 10–12 (Wed–Fri) 2024
  • January 18–20 (Thu–Sat) 2024
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Waimakariri Gorge Trips

  • November 4 (Saturday) 2023
  • November 25 (Saturday) 2023
  • December 10 (Sunday) 2023
  • December 22 (Friday) 2023
  • January 13 (Saturday) 2024
  • January 21 (Sunday) 2024
  • January 26 (Friday) 2024
  • January 27 (Saturday) 2024
  • January 28 (Sunday) 2024
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