Kayak Stage

It is important to learn the proper skills to safely negotiate the Waimakariri River section, which is made up of numerous Grade 2 rapids throughout the 70km section of river. It is also imperative that you practice these skills in the boat you are planning to use in the race. White water boats are fantastic for learning about the river and the skills needed to safely negotiate the hazards but are very different to paddling Multisport or sea kayaks. 

Most people who struggle on the river seem to struggle mostly with reading and negotiating eddy lines and dealing with bluff turns – make these items a priority as well as learning how to chose your lines. Do not always follow another competitor as that person you are following in the race may not take very good lines!

While the ability to perform an eskimo roll is not a compulsory kayak requirement, we strongly encourage competitors to attain this skill.  

This Section is one of the highlights of the race - you will thoroughly enjoy it if you are paddling the correct kayak for your skill level AND you have a good basic level of competency in rivers. You should not be entering the river anticipating a swim - if you are you should re-access your boat choice and spend more time on your skills - Please take responsibility for your own skill level.

Please be responsible and paddle a kayak that is suitable for your level of skill - you will be safer and faster. We reserve the right to randomly test participant's level of competency at the race registration. 

Kayak Training

Novices in the One Day and Two Day races and those from outside of Canterbury should obtain experience on the Waimakariri River before the race. We suggest you book in with a local operator (check out our list of kayak instructors and guides). During December and January, plan to be here for a 5 day period to get on the river. You’ll need this time because of weather and river variability.

Spend time in your race boat. See the Kayak Stage description in the handbook specific to your event. It gives a breakdown on what to expect, what areas competitors have traditionally had more issues with, and where you should focus your White Water training on.

Internationals should arrive 1 – 2 weeks before the race to obtain river and mountain experience.

Grade 2 Kayaking Certificates

All new competitors must email us a copy (not the original) of their current (no more than 2 years old) Grade 2 Kayak Certificate by 14 January 2019. Certificates or waivers received after 14 January 2019 will incur a $30 administration fee.  Download the kayak certificate via the following link - Coast to Coast Grade 2 Kayaking Skills Certificate.

Previous competitors who have successfully completed the Kayak Stage on race day in the last 5 years need only state on the entry form the year(s) they have competed in the Coast to Coast rather than send in another kayaking certificate. Competitors who have not competed in the Coast to Coast for five years must either do a refresher Grade 2 course or provide evidence that their skills are up to the required standard. We do however highly recommend people re-certify every 5 years regardless, especially if not regularly involved in grade 2 or greater kayaking.

In the Tandem Section, the steering is at the front of the supplied boats and the person steering the kayak MUST have a full Grade 2 Kayak certificate. The second non steering paddler must have a MINIMUM of a river safety certificate which is the completion of the safety section of the Grade 2 Kayak certificate available on the website. They must have also completed a river trip in a double kayak and attest to this. If the steering kayaker is injured in the Mountain run and cannot steer the kayak, the team member will not be allowed to swap positions and steer the kayak unless they also have a full Grade 2 Kayak Certificate.

Note: We will also accept other recognised white water kayak certificates that are equal to or greater than the CTC Grade 2 Certificate – please email info@coasttocoast.co.nz if you wish to submit an alternative certificate.

Coast to Coast Grade 2 Kayaking Skills Certificates will only be accepted from: 

  • anyone holding a current NZOIA Kayak 1, or 
  • anyone holding a current British Canoe Union BCU Inland Coach Level 3, or
  • anyone holding a current Australian Canoeing Award Scheme ACAS White Water Instructor, or
  • anyone holding a current American Canoe Association ACA Level 4 White Water instructor or
  • Other overseas instructors who can provide details of relevant qualification & contact details
  • any other assessor listed on the CTC website* 

* Please contact us if you wish to be listed on our website. 

Grade 2 Kayak Instructors 

Click here for the full list of Kayak Instructors. If there is not an instructor close to where you live, contact us and we may be able to find someone suitable closer to you.

Competitors need to make their own decisions about the appropriateness of the provider they choose to train or assess for their Certificate. Coast to Coast makes no judgement or warranty on the safety or quality of the operators listed on this website. Any operator charging a fee for their services should be certified and registered as an Adventure Activity provider with WorkSafe NZ. Please note the Certificate also requires YOU (the competitor) to verify your competence in the listed skills.

Be aware that under the new Adventure Activity Regulations (which came into force 1st November 2011) anybody commercially offering training or assessment in kayak skills will need to be able to provide clients with their Audit certification.  We highly recommend you keep your skills up to date and consider doing a refresher course regularly. 

Competitor Exemptions

By far our preferred choice of training and assessment is from qualified instructors. However we also provide a “competitor exemption” process for those who either cannot access a qualified instructor, or can easily show they have the prerequisite skills and knowledge to compete safely. This process will attract an administration fee of NZ$50.00 per application.

Individuals will need to submit a combination of at least two* of the following:

  • Logged experience
  • Signed attestation from a person of high regard in kayaking 
  • Proof of competition of other kayak races or multi-sport events involving grade 2 kayaking sections
  • Video evidence of skills
  • River rescue course or other kayak skills course

*Note: more than two forms of evidence may be required by the River Safety Manager depending on your level of evidence

We will also accept other kayaking certificates that are the equivalent to or surpass the requirements of the Coast to Coast grade 2 certificate. These will be assessed on a case by case basis and may attract an administration fee of NZ$50.00 if we require additional information to be supplied.

Gear Failure Examples


Surf Helmet

FAIL - Surfing helmet – not rated for kayaking.  Soft forehead protection.

Helmet Yellow 1Helmet Yellow 2

FAIL - This ancient beast – belongs in your dress up box.

Cycle helmet

FAIL - Cycle helmets, not sufficient for river section.

Multisport helmet

Multi-purpose helmet RATED for whitewater (e.g. Kong Scarab). Will pass providing you can show evidence of their rating at scrutineering.  However we DO NOT RECOMMEND THESE based on the fact that they provide limited side protection and are effectively a one hit wonder – break it and you can’t continue the race.


Generic 1Generic 2

FAIL - Generic buoyancy aids – not designed specifically for kayaking.  Do not have a cinch strap below ribcage.

Generic 3

Fail - Belongs in your dress up box.

Sun damage 1Sun damage

FAIL - This jacket failed due to sun damage, fabric disintegrated with very little force. If yours looks like this – replace it.


FAIL - Bottom cinch strap must be WEBBING NOT STRING.  Would also fail on sun damage.

No waist cinch

FAIL - no waist cinch at all.


Down River Kayak Club

At DRKC, we love kayaking! 

We want you to get excited about kayaking too! It is all about feeling confident and happy in your kayak, because we all know that positive thoughts create the best results!

DRKC is about paddlers supporting paddlers. 

Come along to one of our fun, educational, river adventures and learn to love paddling as much as we do. 

What we offer:

  • river trips, including Waimakariri Gorge trips 
  • river confidence days, 
  • club races including upstream races 
  • rolling sessions that are open to everyone. 

Check out our Facebook page and website (www.drkc.org.nz) for more details.

This club was started to ensure multisport kayak racing on rivers continues in Canterbury in a social and safe environment. To help grow the sport, the skills and knowledge of paddlers. 

The club’s aim is to foster an approach to safety based on personal responsibility. With group members encouraged to learn to use and carry appropriate safety equipment for the rivers paddled. 

Check out our website www.drkc.org.nz for our events calendar and download an application form to become a financial member and join us on the river.

Rasdex River Race Series

  • Prologue 1 Sun 7 October 2018
  • Prologue 2 Sun 4 November 2018
  • Prologue 3 Sun 25 November 2018
  • Main Event Saturday 8th December (back up date Sunday 9th December)

For more information on this series check their Facebook page  

This series are part of the NZ Paddler Series and the Main Event is a Gold Event. Grade 2 Certificates are compulsory for ALL Main Event competitors. Grade 2 is recommended for the Prologue Races.

Important Documents

Also in this Section:

First Timers
Nutrition Advice