Category Archives: News

Kayaking at Level 1.

Well done New Zealand!
Today (8th June 2020) Government has reported that there are no active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. Because of this we will move to Level 1 at midnight tonight! That is a great achievement and the “Team of 5 Million” deserves a big pat on the back for pulling this off!

The restrictions on group activities are now lifted, and life can essentially go back to normal. However, let’s be mindful that some fo us may be out of practice, so take it easy-don’t go throwing yourself at Class V because just because you were paddling like a legend at the end of the summer!

Also, let’s try and make sure we learn from this pandemic experience:

Play it safe.

Be kind!

The Government is still asking us to be mindful of washing hands, good hygiene, cough or sneeze into your elbow and try to keep a track of where you go and who you see (for clubs, pleas just keep a record of who goes on the club trips).

Importantly, we all need to be conscious of helping to support local businesses who may have been economically hard hit by the lockdown. So, what can we do as kayakers? Get out there and go kayaking!!!! But it’s more than that-make sure that you stop for fish and chips on the way home or buy a new sprayskirt or a new throw-bag at your local kayaking shop!

Thanks to everyone for playing their parts in this pandemic response.

A Quick Guide to River Safety

A Quick Guide to River Safety 

Our collective efforts during Alert Level 3 and 4 has enabled New Zealand to do what many other countries have failed to do and flatten the curve. With a move to Alert Level 2 and an easing of restrictions all of us now have the ability to return to the water!! We figured this is an opportune time to refresh some basic concepts of river safety.

Unlike many other sports, white water kayaking does not conform to a rigid structure. Like the environment we are in, the risk assessment and analysis procedures we use must be dynamic and we must always be aware of the risks and react accordingly. The following information outlines some basic principles that can be applied to help minimise the risks.

Principle 1

This first principle is is incredibly useful in helping rescuers to remember that the first priority is to themselves then to their team, then the victim and lastly to equipment. People are always incredibly proud of their equipment they may have just bought the latest or shiniest boat/ paddle but it can always be replaced.

Principle 2

This principle is about encouraging rescuers to consider the risk to themselves when deciding on which strategy to use when undertaking a rescue. We have all seen Baywatch or Bondi Rescue and want to jump in the water and be the hero but there are a number of different options. Think about simple things first, like encouraging victims to swim to the shore or using a paddle or throw bag to reach them without getting anywhere near the water. The last resort should always be to enter the water and should only be done with sufficient knowledge.

Rescuer in a good position with a rope and paddle at the ready.
Photo credit: Kev England. Paddler Greg Nicks and safety by Dave Kwant. 

Principle 3

This principle works really well in the dynamic environment of a river, it is great resource for using on your local club river trip or out with a group of friends.

Communication – Before any trip down the river all group members should agree signals in advance and should use the KISS Principle (Keep it Short and Simple)

Line of Sight – On an ideal trip everyone within the group should be able to see each other and endeavour to keep it this way. Ideally every paddler should have two attainable eddies between themselves and the river going out of sight.

Avoidance – This is always better than finding a solution to the problem, create an atmosphere within the group of mutual support. If you want to walk, walk!

Position of Maximum Usefulness – When protecting a rapid, paddlers should position themselves so as to cover the highest risk. This usually means covering the problems that are most likely to occur, rather than the most dangerous hazard.

When whitewater kayaking there will always be the potential for something to go wrong, we recommend that you always paddle with a strong team and that you keep your rescue skills sharp by practicing them regularly.

These safety and rescue articles are put together by Matt McKnight.
Matt is professional canoe slalom coach and a keen whitewater paddler. 
Keep an eye out for the final article in this series – looking at gear and mechanical advantage systems.

Fitness for Kayaking – Developing the ABC’s of Movement

Our collective efforts during the Alert Level 4 Lockdown period have led to some easing of restrictions. For lucky paddlers they have been able to get their white water fix since moving to Alert Level 3 but for many this will only occur after the shift to Alert Level 2.

Continuing on from our previous post which focused on improving core strength and stability this week we will be focusing on developing the ABC’s of movement which are Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination.

Why do I want to develop my Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination?

Research has shown that the athletic ability of any individual is based on their foundational development of their Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination. These three things are the cornerstones of athletic development and physical literacy. If we want to do anything from catch a ball to run our local river with style we have to develop the basics to do so.

Photo of Tutea Falls on the Kaituna River by Mike Robertson. Showing all of the ABC’s in action.

What does Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination mean?

Agility is defined as the ability to move in multiple directions at speed. To be able to change direction and also having the ability to accelerate and decelerate as quickly and efficiently as possible. We know as a white water kayakers that when moving from one place to another we need to be agile. The stop, start and change of direction for the body is critical for paddlers to move into different positions. This could be going from a bow rudder into a forward paddle stroke, from stern rudder into draw. The ability to stop moving to hold position and then move again is critical for us to be agile.

Balance is defined as the ability to control your body in its own space. We could go more scientific, but for me, it’s better to keep things simple. When on a river being able manage your balance while paddling will undoubtedly aid you in your development, as the water changes we need to be able to stay upright whilst being able to move through a range of movements. By being able to change how we sit then we can work to have our centre of gravity over the base or by use of the paddle or more importantly using the stability that we get from moving and by adding in positive connection points we maintain our balance throughout a manoeuvre.

Coordination is when all parts of the body are in agreement to perform a skill or a task. We are continually using multiple parts of our body to help achieve / maintain our balance. Think back to the critical move that you must make on your local river and how you must coordinate upper and lower body movements. If these movements are correctly coordinated with the necessary agility then we can maintain our balance and will normally have a successful outcome.

How can we develop our ABC’s?

This may all seem very complicated and you mightn’t be sure exactly what how you can develop it but it is pretty easy. It doesn’t matter whether you are a young up and coming white water kayaker or seasoned pro you can still work on developing these skills following the programme below:

Start out with a gentle run for about 5-10 minutes to get yourself warmed up:

Sled Pull

Push Up



Single Leg Deadlift

Medicine Ball Rotations

To complete these exercises you don’t need any fancy equipment, instead of using a sled just hook your kayak up to a throw rope and drag it across your garden and if you don’t have a medicine ball a stone will work just as well just throw it across your garden instead of against a wall.

How many how long?

Depending on your level of base fitness you may want to start off slow aiming to complete around 6-10 repetitions of each exercise or between 20-30 seconds and aim for 1-3 rounds depending on how it feels.

Once you start to feel more comfortable with the circuit you can start increase the reps by 2-4 of each exercise or increase the length by 10-20 seconds or aim to complete more rounds.

You want to try and complete this circuit anywhere from 1-3 times per week to really try and improve your agility, balance and co-ordination for when it is time to get back in a boat!

Make sure to check in next week when we will be releasing an article looking at how you can brush up on your safety skills during this Lockdown.

These paddling fitness articles have been put together by Matt McKnight, Matt is professional Canoe Slalom coach and a keen whitewater paddler. 

Kayaking at level 2

Whitewater at Level 2

On Thursday (14th May) NZ will move into Level 2 Pandemic Alert. Whilst some lucky paddlers were able to get a whitewater fix during the Level 3 Alert over the past couple of weeks, for most of us the shift to Level 2 is likely to be our first chance to get back out on the water.

There is still a risk of community transmission of the virus, which means that we can’t simply go back to paddling as usual. So, please don’t rush into this, play it safe and follow these guidelines for whitewater paddling during the Level 2 Alert:

  1. Transmission of the virus is most likely whilst travelling in a vehicle, so plan this carefully. Here are some things you can do to reduce the transmission risk while driving shuttles and driving to / from a river trip:
    1. Drive to and from the river by yourself or create an expanded “shuttle bubble”, and stick to this grouping whilst driving (and on the river, if possible)
    2. Drive with windows open
    3. Use good personal hygiene whilst sharing a car
  2. Stay well within your skill level to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency services.
  3. Paddle in small groups and try to keep your group exclusive 
  4. Keep a record of who you paddle with
  5. Use physical distancing wherever possible, particularly at the put-in and take-out, where other people may be present
  6. Avoid touching each other’s gear, and if this is not possible, disinfect or use hand sanitiser as quickly as possible
  7. Overnight trips are OK as long as 1m physical distancing is maintained
  8. If you are sick, have any respiratory, cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go paddling

Advice for clubs:

Small public gatherings are allowed at Level 2, so club activities can take place. However, please follow the rules above and create a documented safety plan including the following points:

  1. Use Sport New Zealand’s Touch Free Contact Register to record all group participants in club actuivities
  2. Participants should have no respiratory symptoms and should have had no contact with others with respiratory symptoms in the two weeks prior to the trip
  3. Four days after the trip, the Trip Leader should check with all trip participants for any respiratory symptoms and notify everybody on the trip if symptoms are observed.
  4. Disinfect any shared equipment in the same way as you would to prevent the spread of Didymo

Please be mindful that for many of us, we’ve not been out on the water for a while, so we may be out of practice. That means taking extra precautions around rescue provisions and general river safety.

 Use your common sense – don’t rush into this, play it safe and be kind!

Fitness for Kayaking – Core Strength

Paddlers: Kenny Mutton and Seth Ashworth
Photo: Redwood Photos

We are currently experiencing a time of great uncertainty due to COVID-19. Our current landscape has been dramatically changed with alterations to how we work, play, exercise, socialise and live. Over the coming weeks’ WWNZ are putting together a number of articles covering things that we can do during this Lockdown Period to improve ourselves so that when we can return to the water we will return stronger.

Our first article will be focusing on improving Core Strength and Stability

Many people think that paddling is all having a strong upper body, think back to the conversations where people say oh you must have massive arms or shoulders to do that.  When in fact the most fundamental body part involved in kayaking is having a strong core. When you can unlock the power within your core muscles you will be able to generate more speed or drive in the boat, be able to paddle for longer, improve your balance and posture within the boat and this may even lead to advances in your technique.

What is the Core?

When people think of their core muscles they often think about that perfect 6-pack but your abs are so much more than that. They are made up of many muscles, including your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think “abs”), transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen).


Below we have outlined a circuit style workout that can be done using minimum resources all you need is some space.

Exercise 1 – Side Plank Right

Exercise 2 – Side Plank Left

Exercise 3 – Double Leg Bridge

Exercise 4 – Leg Raises

Exercise 5 – Russian Twists

Exercise 6 – Superman

Exercise 7 – Window Wipers

Exercise 8 – Dynamic Plank

How Many? How Long?

Depending on your level of base fitness you may want to start off slow aiming to complete around 6-10 repetitions of each exercise or between 20-30 seconds and aim for 1-3 rounds depending on how it feels.

Once you start to feel more comfortable with the circuit you can start increase the reps by 2-4 of each exercise or increase the length by 10-20 seconds or aim to complete more rounds.

You want to try and complete this circuit anywhere from 2-4 times per week to really try and strengthen that core for when it is time to get back in a boat!

Make sure to check in next week when we will be releasing an article looking at how to increase your balance and co-ordination on during this Lockdown.

Whitewater kayaking during a Level 3 Alert

Whitewater kayaking during a Level 3 Alert

Over the past few weeks we’ve all been itching to get out on the water and I commend everyone for resisting that temptation. Sport NZ have released their activity specific guidance, which states that kayaking during the Level 3 Alert is permitted. However, this needs to be done sensibly, within your bubble and with no risk of hurting yourself or of needing rescue.

The most important principle is to maintain your bubble and stay safe, so that you do not need rescuing or medical care. You can do activities that are local, which you can do safely, and which do not involve interacting with other people, or equipment touched by other people. 

So, if you need to go out on whitewater rivers (whilst in Level 3 Alert) please follow these simple rules:

  1. Stay in your bubble. Avoid driving in a vehicle with anyone outside of your bubble. This will mean carefully planning shuttles and travel to and from a river
  2. Only paddle on your local rivers, that you know well and present no risks
  3. Paddle one grade below your normal level. That means Class V is NOT OK!
  4. Do not paddle on flooded rivers
  5. Paddle in small groups (up to 4 people) and maintain at least 2m distance from people outside your bubble. 
  6. Your choice of river should not be at all challenging for your level of experience. It should feel like a “walk in the park”
  7. Do not paddle on whitewater rivers alone
  8. Do not do overnight trips
  9. Do not share equipment
  10. Club activities should not take place

Now is not the time to take up new activities, push your limits, or expose yourself or your bubble to any risk. 

Use your common sense – be kind, stay local, stay safe.

Kia kaha river people.

Kev England, 

President, Whitewater NZ.


How far can I drive to go paddling?

You should drive as short a distance as you can, and still do the activity. You must stay local. For example a river, lake or a beach 45 minutes away.

What sort of activities can I do?

You can drive to a nearby area to go for a paddle, swim, ride, walk or run, as long as these activities do not break your bubble or cause a risk of needing rescue or medical care

Who can I do paddle with?

You can paddle by yourself (flat water paddling) or with people from your extended bubble. If other people are present, maintain at least 2m separation.

Covid-19 update 13 April 2020

At today’s 1pm Covid-19 briefing we heard that on Thursday (16th April) the Government will release guidance on what the shift from level 4 Alert to level 3 Alert will look like in terms of recreation as well as other activities. WWNZ has been advocating for sensible access to our whitewater resources via our relationship with Recreation Aotearoa and Sport NZ, who have a direct line of communication with Government. We won’t know what the Level 3 Alert (or 2 and 1) rules and regulations look like until Thursday, but please be aware that whitewater enthusiasts are part of the dialogue and our unique requirements are being considered.

We will update you with advice and guidance on Level 3 Alert activities as soon as we can. For now, please be patient, stay in your bubble and be safe!

Lockdown photocomp

Attention all WWNZ members. We have decided to run a photo competition to try and inspire those of you who are in lockdown at the moment dreaming of WW kayaking.

We are calling for people to submit their favourite shots. You can enter as many times as you want.

We are asking that you share your photo’s to

Along with a high definition image you should identify the person who took the photo, the paddler(s), the river and a caption to accompany the image. The criteria the judges will be looking for will be quality images that portray excitement within our sport.

The board will all vote for the photos submitted and the eventual winners will be contacted and published on social media.

By entering this competition you are giving WWNZ permission to use your photograph in the future. In this instance we will always credit the photographer.

First place $150
Second place $100
Third place $50

If you are not a member of WWNZ and you wish to enter this competition feel free to join at it is $10 to join. All winners will need to show that they are a current member of WWNZ. Photos are due by 5pm Friday 17 April 2020. Go well

Tongariro release postponed

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown situation this month’s scheduled Tongariro release has been postponed.

Whitewater NZ has negotiated with Genesis Energy to postpone this release until later in the year, when we will be able to get out and enjoy it! 

The future release date has not been confirmed yet and Whitewater NZ will endeavour to establish a suitable date that works for as many paddlers as possible.

Stay home and stay safe everyone!