river safety

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I am researching an article on drownings in NZ for NZ Wilderness magazine and wondered if anyone in the canoe/kayak community could point me in the direction of people in the know when it comes to canoe/kayak safety. My aim is to gather information on the safety courses people can go on; find out how fatal accidents occur on NZ rivers; what the minimum skill levels are (or should be) to kayak/canoe NZ rivers; and what the canoe/kayak community feels about river safety - how real is the danger to people using NZ rivers for recreation and how can the dangers be minimised.
Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
Alistair Hall

jonathan's picture

(I've forwarded your post to the NZRCA Safety Officer Glenn Murdoch.)

You can recommend that individuals are aware of the NZRCA Code of Practice

Recommended canoe/kayak-specific course syllabus and course providers are at

IMHO, I think there is a reasonably safety-conscious culture among NZ paddlers, particularly those learning in a club environment. I think non-paddlers tend to underestimate the dangers of NZ rivers and several deaths have occurred due to this lack of understanding. The NZRCA aims to improve safety awareness among the kayaking community. Water Safety NZ is the organisation aiming to educate the wider public.


alan.bell0's picture

Jonathan Hunt our NZRCA webmaster is setting up an incident database and our safety officer Glenn Murdoch ought to be able to help you.
try emailing
admin@rivers.org.nz and ask for info on river safety and for your message to be forwarded to Jonathan and Glenn.
There is a lot of info around.
If you want, email me at bellac@xtra.co.nz and I'll give you more stuff.
Regards, Alan
We have lots of guidelines etc that we use in our club scene (whitewater).