Advice on Paddling in NZ


Hi guys,

I'm currently in my final year of University in England and I'm starting to sort out what I'm going to do when I graduate.

I'd quite like to spend a year over in New Zealand kayaking but I could do with a little advice to point me in the right direction.

Basically I would like to travel around NZ a bit and do some work as well, however my main purpose is WW kayaking.

Here's some background info:

So far my 6 years kayaking has taken me to white-water all around the UK, Sea kayaking in the Norweigen Fjords, Playboating in Western Canada and running rivers in the European Alps. I mainly paddle grade 3, 4 and 5 however my favourite kind of river is continuous grade 4 boulder gardens with the occasional bit of big stuff. I also enjoy big steep green waves.

So far the only things I've got down on my list of things to do are:

-Spend a while on the West coast of South Island Heli-boatin'
-Do a bungee jump somewhere
-Go playing at Full James
-Do a little Sea Kayaking in the Abel Tasman Park
-Get myself down to the Buller Fest

Can anyone think of better things to do?

I'm currently thinking of heading out about September 2004 and staying till May '05. I'm hoping to catch the snow melt and the summer. (If anyone thinks that this won't be the best time for personal kayaking on rivers as well as work please let me know.)

Other things that might be helpful to know:

I am a fully qualified kayak instuctor in the UK (BCU Level 3 Inland) equivalent to the NZOIA level 1 and also a raft guide on the Lower Durance in the French Alps (BCU Level 1 - Site Specific). I have also done a Swift-Water Rescue Course Unit 1 and have done a recent first aid course.

Other qualifications include instructing sailing and winsurfing as well as powerboat driving.

If anyone's got any general advice about wicked areas to go / seasons or rivers please let me know. I suppose the only other things I would like to know are:

-What sort of work is available to seasonal instructors / guides?
-What sort of work is available more generally that would get me close to rivers? (Driving maybe?)
-What could I expect to be payed if I managed to get a raft guide job / Level 1 kayak instructors job?
-What are NZOIA, NZRA and the NZRCA like in terms of a National Governing Body for kayak coaching / rafting?
-Where are the best place's to hook up with people to go kayaking regularly?
-What's transport like there, would I need to get myself a car? (How much would that set me back?)
-What are clubs like in NZ, I'm not overly impressed by the type of paddling that happens in clubs back here?

Any help would be great,



P.S. Someone once told me that if I ever went to NZ I should take a second hand Inazone 230 with me and sell it at profit once I get there. The guy I was talking to said this was because it's hard to get Pyranah boats in NZ and the extra cost of importing them put up the price. Is this still the case? If not which other boats from this side of the pond are in demand?

aaron.senior's picture

Hey Tom,
Depends what type of work you are talking about. There is plenty of seasonal work in NZ if you are willing to work. If you are looking at instructing it wouldn't hurt to give Mick Hopkinson a ring at the New Zealand Kayak school in Murchison. Great central location, close to the West Coast, great people. Another boating suggestion would be to head down Queenstown way and do the Shot over, the Kawarau, and then maybe head in to Milford and look at the Hollyford (fantastic!!!! boating). The kayak school has a web site and phone number is 035239611. If you can order one get Graham Charles guide book , will give you a good overall picture.
Cheers Aaron

tom0's picture

Thanks for the help andrew,

Do you have any thoughts on places that would be good to work?


mitta.mitta's picture

Mate, with your qualifications and skills just stick with the plan you've got and go! Seriously, you can't go wrong, with one exception: don't bother taking the Pyranha boat. Plenty of them over there and they sell pretty cheap.