Looking for housing/research

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I am a student at SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse New York, US. I will be traveling to NZ September 1, 2011 for 15 weeks to study the impacts of whitewater sports on the landscape. I am a raft guide in the states on class III-V rivers, and I am a beginner kayaker (my combat roll is not so hot but I'm working on it..I stay on class III when kayaking).

I am looking for a room to rent from September to December preferably with other paddlers or raft guides. I have mainly been looking in Queenstown, but would really live anywhere so long as there is a nearby river. I would consider myself a more than bearable person to live with. I am also thinking about purchasing/renting a boat during my time to efficiently work on my study (sounds awful doesn't it? haha).

If anyone here even has any suggestions for where to get started, I would very much appreciate it. Even suggestions for rafting companies who provide housing and are willing to accept a volunteer in the office or kitchen are welcome! I would love to do some NZ raft guide training even if I couldn't work.