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. We also strongly encourage you to complete a training run on the river prior to race day, either with competent peers or on a guided trip (see kayak training below).

This stage is one of the highlights of the race - you should thoroughly enjoy it if you are paddling the correct kayak for your skill level AND you have a good level of competency in rivers. You should not be entering the river anticipating a swim - if you are you should reassess 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 participants 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 6 January 2020. Certificates or waivers received after 6 January 2020 will incur a $50 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. We also highly recommend they complete a river trip in a double kayak. 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. Tandems feature strongly in our swimmer stats, they handle somewhat differently to a single kayak, we strongly recommend you gain experience on Grade 2 water in a double kayak before race day.

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

  • an NZOIA Multisport Kayak Instructor (endorsed assessors), or
  • 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
  • any other assessor listed on the CTC website*
  • other overseas instructors who can provide details of relevant qualifications & contact details (must gain prior approval from CTC)

* Please contact us if you wish to be listed on our website or gain approval to assess.

Grade 2 Multisport Kayak Instructors 

Our endorsed assessors are listed below. They hold the NZOIA Multisport Kayak Instructor Award. Please note this Award does not cover rolling teaching, NZOIA Kayak 1 Awards covers this skill, holders of both awards are asterisked* below.    







Auckland Wero - Shaun Higgins 09 976 7777  shaun@pacific.org.nz  www.wero.org.nz
New Plymouth Peter van Lith - Canoe & Kayak Taranaki* 027 608 3844 canoekayak@maxnet.co.nz  
Bay of Plenty Tim Taylor - NZ Kayaker

027 668 9904 or

07 575 4707

tim@nzkayaker.com www.nzkayaker.co.nz or www.facebook.com/nzkayakfisher
Tauranga Blair Anderson 07 576 4233    www.waimarino.com  

Mike Pennefather - Canoe & Kayak

021 2929090

07 378 1003



Lower North Island

Mangaweka Adventure Company - Paul Eames


 0800 655 747




 Canterbury  Canterbury Kayaking, Multisport & Whitewater Kayak School*
- Sam Milne 
 027 316 3879 canterburykayaking@gmail.com www.canterburykayaking.co.nz
 Canterbury Topsport - Chris Stagg*  021 51 61 75 info@topsport.co.nz  www.topsport.co.nz
Murchison New Zealand Kayak School - Daan Jimmink* 03 523 9611 mick@nzkayakschool.com  www.nzkayakschool.com

Best Foot Forward NZ - Bob McLachlan




Click here for the full list of other approved 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. Please note the Certificate also requires YOU (the competitor) to verify your competence in the listed skills.

Be aware that under the 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 may 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. Please note: a BCU 2 Star award is NOT sufficient to meet requirements.

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.

Other useful links;

Down River Kayak Club

Check out their Facebook page and website  for more details.

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  

Important Documents

Also in this Section:

First Timers
Nutrition Advice