New Reserch into How Alcohol Relates to Kayaking Experiences


Hi all,

I am currently conducting a small research investigation into how alcohol currently relates to our recreational kayaking experiences in this country.

This research comes about due to NZ's heavy drinking culture we appear to have in general society.

I am interviewing kayakers in the canterbury area and am currently searching out a few more people to get opionions, stories, concerns, experiences or non-experiences on the subject.

Those who are keen to have their say on the subject (good, bad or otherwise) please comment below or contact me via email.

Those who are too lazy to want to speak to me, feel free to post a comment below about how you feel about drinking and its effect on your experiences. You may want to disscuss experiences of kayaking festivals, ‘bootie skulls’ as a form of punishment, kayaking hung-over, role models (no names) and the way we celebrate/socialise with alcohol.


jojo's picture

Personally... I really don't like paddling with or near people who are drunk/hung over... luckily most of my crew are nannas like me and keep the sports of drinking + boating as separate activities! We're also the kind of nanns who have a couple of quiets together with a few good yarns rather than hitting it hard. Saying that, there are few things that taste as good as a cold beer straight after you get off the river, when you remember to take it out of the car + tie it to something on the bank, that is.

whiteh2o's picture

"Tight kayaker - fights the river....stiff....shakey.... falls over on 6" riffles, needs a beer or a vailum".....from KAYAK by William Nealy

elise's picture

I have a story from the day I realised how important it is to choose who you kayak with.
We were kayaking down a grade 3 river mostly everyone was hung over from the night before, I was sitting in an eddy below a rapid an saw my friend roll, he came up and had hit his face on a rock an was a bit dozed, pulled out a DB that was wedged between his lifejacket and chest and was only fussed by the fact he had water in his beer. I had a wee wake up call that morning. there are plenty of stories like this in the group I used to kayak with. Drinking is indeed a huge part of culture, people just dont know how to be them selves with out having a drink in hand. Its like social safety net.

nzkayaker's picture

Hi Sam,
an interesting read going through all the comments above. I personally grew up whitewater kayaking in Tauranaga in both the slalom and whitewater scenes and I continue to kayak extensively in the area. Over the years I have witnessed and been part of some pretty eye opening events surrounding kayaking and alcohol. Probably the most notorous of these revolved around the Wairoa Extreme Race. In the old two day format, how well you delt with your hangover on the second day was almost considered part of your skill level. A favourite eppisode of mine was when a kayaker decided to tow down another kayak full of beer to the race section on the second day...needless to say, after he rolled it, more than a few people enjoyed a free can or two that went floating by. This sort of attitude however, was not just confined to whitewater kayakers. For a distinct time alomost any kayaking event was considered a prime opportunity for a pissup...certain slalom events and polo competitions were notorious for drunk or hungover kayakers.
I find it ineresting to note however, that there has been a definate attitude shift surrounding drinking and kayaking in more recent times. As kaykaing has become more professionalised, and the limits of kayaking pushed I believe that young people in particular are seperating these two activities. I think this is great as these people are now defining their own social rules for paddling and are not being influenced by the old Kiwi attitude of "manliness".

Sam_Milne's picture

Thanks Robin, Great Quote from magazine, I'll be sure to keep that handy when I'm writing things up.

RobinRB's picture

There are a number of us who have paddled over the legal limit for driving (especially the next day after a visit to the Poo Pub), it happens because usually nobody dies and because many paddlers often lack the confidence to choose to say they will not paddle with mates who are hung over (or un-fit / unskilled / have crap gear etc etc).

In 1984 Tony Marcinowski wrote this about his preparation for the first ever descent of Nevis Bluff

"Probably a kind of sixth sense telling me I was in a strange location bade me regain consciousness. A primeval survival instinct prevented me from yet opening my eyes. I was too frightened to move lest I disturbed the timpanist in my brain. My mouth felt like a small creature of the night had used it first as a latrine then as a mausoleum. Slowly, I opened my eyes; a big white thing stared down at me; I'd seen one before, but not from this angle. Over a bit further I spied a shower cabinet and some toothbrushes. Terrific - I had spent the night in the bathroom. Slowly, I arose and made my way to the lounge. I extricated my watch from a cup of cold tea - it was still early. The next thing I heard sounded very much like a bellowing hippo "C'mon-let's go paddling"....." - NZ Canoe, Rafting magazine No.31, 1984

iAMkayaking's picture

Hi Sam.

Personally I feel that there is not enough interaction between kayaking and alcohol. If I had it my way kayaks would come standard with stubbie holders mounted in the cockpit. Me, I never leave home without at least 3 delicious haast lagers, that way when I nail a sweet boof i can celebrate by nocking one back.

I also prefer to kayak when I am hungover, ya know that stage when you are still a litlle bit pissed and everthing seems hilarious, talk about peak experience trev.

This one time I drilled a 12 box on a run back to the campsite at the takeout. Now I dont remember much of the run, but crikey did it make for some interesting photos.

Dont get me started on booty skulls. My mate once took 4 swims on a run, and once he had finished his 4 bootie skulls he proceeded to try and eat the bootie. Another joker attempted a jandal skull.

Double the suds, double the fun.

Sam_Milne's picture

Same as in first post at the top.

Andygoodbloke's picture

What is your email address?

Sam_Milne's picture

Just nearing the end of my degree in outdoor education/recreation and undertaking my own research investigation into kayaking as part of this.

Research Question:

How the Current New Zealand Drinking Culture is Impacting on Recreational White-Water Kayaking Experiences in this Country: A Qualitative Study of Peoples’ Perceptions.

Sub Questions:

1. What behaviours have been impacted or influenced by alcohol?
2. What attitudes have been impacted or influenced by alcohol?
3. How do different demographical groups within the kayak community experience these impacts differently?
4. What are peoples’ opinions about alcohol’s place in kayaking experiences? Is it acceptable, or is change desired?

This is my first crack at academic research so keeping it fairly small, but hoping to generate some good discussion and an overview of peoples perceptions of alcohol in our sport.

I've already interviewed a few younger student kayakers and hoping to gian the perspective of folks that have been around a little longer. If your keen to help me out with a short interview, that would be fantastic. Please contact me via email.



Andygoodbloke's picture

Hey Sam

No I am not being interviewed by you
I am male and mid thirties in Christchurch
Due to other peoples harassment of my views in other posts, I am not willing to give out personal information, but feel free to ask whatever you like through this sight.

What exactly are you studying?

Sam_Milne's picture

Thanks andy, some great perspective there. You've highlighted some very interesting points.

Are you the same andy I am interviewing this week? If not I'd love to get in contact with you so I can i can include your ideas.

If others agree/disagree with andy's comments please post your opinion below, also let us know how old you are, boy/girl, location etc.


Andygoodbloke's picture

Hey there
First of all I would like to say that alcohol is not a big issue when it comes to kayaking because I have never met anyone who is willing to get onto a river drunk, as the risk is too high and death could easily be found. You drink with your mates after the run. The only incident I heard of was the world champs on the Full-James wave where a chick spectator had a few and dived in to swim the rapid and died, but she was wearing clothes and not even a PFD or helmet. This was 1999 I think. It was sad and a big wake up call for everyone.

After saying that I have been to the pub after a local run or surf, I have been to the West Coast and Murch for New Years and had a few more than a few and found the worst part was putting on the wet gear in the morning, and having to roll the first time, and have thrown up in eddies, but the alcohol at that stage made me slower to react and throw play moves and became an eddy flower sitting watching others who felt better. I still managed to rescue someone who washed down an eddie line and had a few roll attempts and was also as hung over as me, but it was a laugh and not dangerous.

Early versions of Buller fest were good, you walked from the camp ground into town, and played all sorts of stupid games, like starting naked and be the first person to put a full kayaking kit on and be sat in the boat with your paddle across your head. Or walking into the pub and ordering a beer stark bollock naked, but putting shorts back on as I had nowhere to put the change or wallet. The bar staff thought it was a great joke and gave free beer to those who did it. - the first one.

Around the world I have found the attitude very similar with no-one taking stupid risks, but facilities in the UK for example are better, the bigger of the courses at Nottingham for example have accommodation, and bar facilities for those staying a while and no matter where you go you will always find a pub very close including Hurley weir, so you have a pint and food after you get out and changed.

I am not that young anymore, but young people drink. I did when I was 17-28, and still drink now but to call it a binge drinking problem is over rated, but the main concern I have is the vehicles driven. My old cortina's and corollas had no more that about 100 horse power if you crashed them the speed you hit was a bit lower but it still did end up with deaths, the skylines and impreza's etc driven today have sometimes 4 times that amount of power so the margin or error is smaller. Every country with younger adults have the same problem, if not with drink, then drugs, or gangs, and think the younger guys would benefit if more paddled or climbing or skiing to get their rush instead of racing cars or violence. The drinking culture of kayakers is good compared to that of rugby players out on the lash after a game.

Hope this helps
Cheers Andy