Grade 2 Kayak Information

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. 

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.

Tandem Kayak Hire

2 Barracuda A R Duo tandem kayaks (same ones that will be supplied for the Tandem section) are available to hire to qualified instructors taking clients on a training course or competitors that have a Coast to Coast Grade 2 Kayaking Skills Certificate. Kayaks can be picked up from Flock Hill and need to be returned back in a clean and undamaged condition, further collection instructions will be provided once a booking is confirmed.  Hire is only for the gear only (kayak & spray deck) and does not include any instructions or tutorial, the hirer must be competent to safely use the gear on their own and supply other safety equipment including PFD and paddle.  

Day hire rate is $150 per kayak plus $50 refundable damage deposit.
2 day / weekend rate is $250 per kayak plus $50 refundable damage deposit.
Please contact us for longer periods.  
Complete the booking form and return to 

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 15 January 2017. Certificates or waivers received after 15 January 2017 will incur a $30 administration fee.  Download the kayak certificate via the following link - Coast to Coast Grade 2 Kayaking Skills Certificate.

Competitors from previous 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 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: For the 2017 event we will also accept other recognised white water kayak certificates that are equal to or greater than the CTC Grade 2 Certificate – please email 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 and International Kayak Hire

Click here for the full list of Kayak Instructors and International Kayak Hire. 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. New competitors have until November 30th to complete their certificate. 

 Competitors from previous years need only state on the entry form the most recent year they competed in the Coast to Coast. 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.

Grade 2 Kayaking Requirements

Click here to download a Grade Two Kayaking Skills Certificate - there are sections to be completed by the kayak instructor and the competitor.

Completed certificates should be emailed to 

General knowledge

In discussion with the kayak instructor, the candidate should show good knowledge of the following:

  • personal kayaking and safety equipment
  • river dynamics at grade 2 level
  • hazards associated with kayaking including broaching
  • strainers and foot entrapment and the actions taken to avoid or minimise these hazards
  • river signals
  • tying kayaks onto roof racks and trailers
  • the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia.

Moving water skills

Candidates must demonstrate competence in the following skills in their event boat or a boat of similar stability and performance in grade 2 water:

Capsize in a grade 2 rapid and self rescue by actively swimming with all equipment to an eddy, forward paddling, forward and reverse sweep strokes, low brace, break in / break out of eddies, ferry glide, identifying a safe line and manoeuvring down grade 2 rapids.

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!

Participate in rescue skills

The candidate must be able to competently participate in the following rescues:

  • receive a throw bag
  • be carried on the stern of a boat
  • deep-water rescue.

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