Archive for the ‘News’ Category

NZ Canoeing & Rafting Magazines are now live on the website!!!

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

New Zealanders have long been exploring the rivers across this beautiful country and travelling overseas to pioneer first descents and take part in great adventures. Through some great work by our members we have been able to track down and scan many of the NZ Canoeing Association Bulletins going all the way back to 1977 which are now available under the About Us Tab on the website.

These are invaluable resources and we would recommend that everyone have a look as they give an amazing insight into what was going on during this time period and you are bound to see many familiar names and faces who have made the sport so great over the years.

If you happen to have a copy of any of the missing bulletins, please get in touch with [email protected] as we would love to be able to keep this resource alive.



Ngaruroro River Water Conservation Order

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Please donate here.

After years of tireless efforts from Whitewater New Zealand and others, a Special Tribunal recommended that the Ngaruroro River in Hawkes Bay be protected by a Water Conservation Order (WCO). For those that aren’t familiar with WCO’s, this is the highest level of protection that a river can get in NZ and is meant to give everlasting protection to ensure a valley remains wild and free. River people, including kayakers, rafters, canoeists, packrafters, fly fishers, trampers, hunters, bird spotters, and conservationists from across the Country celebrated this decision. However, WWNZ’s lawyers took a closer look at the wording within the proposed Order and found that it didn’t really offer any protection at all! They were proposing to allow water abstraction from tributaries, there was no solid definition of such basic terms as damming, no controls on water contamination and it left the door wide open for developers to challenge it in the future. 

WWNZ have appealed the original draft WCO (link is here) and proposed a new draft (link is here). We’re taking this fight to the Environment Court, so if you care about the future of whitewater and rivers in NZ please dig deep in your pockets and make a donation to help with our Court costs. Future generations deserve to experience wild and free rivers in NZ and we’re trying our best to provide the protection that our wild places deserve. Please help us.

We’ve started a “give-a-little” campaign so you can donate to this cause and help us keep this special river wild and free:

If you’d like to know more about the fight so far, read on!

Late in 2015 Whitewater NZ, along with the Zealand Fish and Game Council, Hawke’s Bay Fish and Game Council, Operation Patiki Ngāti Hori ki Kohupatiki, the Royal Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand and Jet Boating New Zealand, lodged an application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) on the Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay. The New Zealand Rivers Association (the professional body for rafters in New Zealand) also supported the application. Whitewater NZ particularly wanted to preserve the outstanding white water kayaking and rafting amenity and wild, scenic and natural characteristics of the river above Whanawhana, where there are two stunning multi-day white water runs in the upper river. This was part of Whitewater NZ’s on-going conservation strategy on behalf of paddlers throughout the country to help preserve some of the best white water runs in New Zealand for the future. The application and our conservation effort were strongly supported, and especially financially, by the Hawke’s Bay Canoe Club. 

Hearings before a Special Tribunal were held for the river in two stages in 2017-18. Whitewater NZ presented its case as did clubs and paddlers from throughout New Zealand who submitted in support of the application. A draft WCO was recommended by the Special Tribunal in August 2019. The outstanding white water amenity and wild and scenic river values above Whanawhana were recognised in the draft WCO, with no damming on the mainstem but damming possible on tributaries. The outstanding jet boating, iwi and bird values in the river below Whanawhana were not recognised by the WCO. 

The wording in the WCO designed to protect our values was very ambiguous and open to interpretation, permitting activities so long as their impacts were no more than minor. This could mean that any future applications for water takes in the tributaries and headwaters and dams for water storage could severely affect flows in reaches of the river down to Whanawhana.  This would not retain the flows and river processes that provide for our values, and we would have to defend the WCO whenever such situations arose.  In effect, the WCO recognised our values but did not protect them at all in a meaningful way. This decision used language that would also set a very poor precedent for future WCOs.

As a result, Whitewater NZ decided to appeal this decision to the Environment Court seeking better clarity around protection of our white water values, and especially no damming provisions on the headwater tributaries and meaningful protection of water quality in the river, which is a key feature of the upper river runs. Other parties, such as the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the NZ Winegrowers Association, NZ Beef and Lamb, Pernod Ricard (Multinational liquor manufacturer who profit from wine in Hawkes Bay) Federated Farmers and other development groups also appealed the decision, seeking to further weaken the Order and leave no restrictions on damming and water storage on the headwater tributaries.  

Whitewater NZ have so far undertaken mediation facilitated by the Environment Court to see if the matters could be resolved without a full Environment Court Hearing. This was largely unsuccessful largely due to the opposition of the agricultural sector and the HBRC. We are continuing to work towards resolving a number of issues, including with local tangata whenua, who also object to the imposition of a WCO. Much of the land on the true right bank in the upper river run down to Kuripapango is Maori Trust land (the rest is administered by the Department of Conservation (DoC)) and tangata whenua want to be the primary custodians to control this land and look after it and the river as kaitiaki (guardians). The Trusts already have a number of kawenata (land administration agreements) with DoC to look after and conserve their lands. We are developing a relationship with these Trusts to collectively look after the river.

We now need to raise $35,000 to fund our appeal in the Environment Court. The Court date has been set down for early February. In the past we have been very fortunate to have the support of Fish and Game in such processes, but for various internal reasons they have withdrawn from the appeal. Forest and Bird have appealed the decision as it affects their values on the lower river, and also support us in the upper river as they have interests in the whio (blue duck) and native fish populations in the upper river. Thus, we are largely on our own. The funds are needed to provide legal representation and legal submissions at the Hearing.

Thus, we are launching a fund-raising appeal to the wider kayaking and rafting community to support the Environment Court appeal. We would be most grateful to receive donations to the fund. Should the appeal not go ahead we would offer to return any donated funds should parties want that or retain the funds for other conservation work carried out by Whitewater NZ if you were happy with that. Please support us strongly in this matter if you are able. The chance to get WCOs on rivers only happens occasionally in New Zealand. The processes required to get them are long and expensive. Fish and Game would have spent about $750,000 so far on the Ngaruroro WCO. It would be great to complete this process and get a meaningful defensible WCO granted on the river after all our collective efforts.

Please dig deep and help us to help keep this majestic river wild and free.

Flying in to the Upper Ngaruroro River.
Catarafts on the Upper Ngaruroro Gorge.

Fitness for Kayaking – How can we help minimise injuries?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020
The dreaded hike in is an awesome way to raise the heart rate. Photo, Kev England.

With Daylight Savings kicking in and the weather starting to warm up, now is the ideal time for all of us to get out in a boat after work or during the weekend for our white water fix.

Continuing on from our previous posts which focused on improving core strength, stability and developing the ABC’s of movement this week we are looking at how we can warm up effectively to help we can help minimise injuries and spend more time on the water this summer.

How can we minimise injuries?

Over this next section we will talk through some key concepts that when introduced should help to minimise the likelihood that an injury may occur.

Effective Warm Ups

How many times have you got on a river and made a mistake right at the start of the trip?! Well a warm-up prepares the body and mind for exercise and is thought to decrease the risk of injury during training and performance. A warm-up increases blood flow to the active tissues, increases body temperature, and allows the cardiovascular system to gradually increase from a resting to an active state.

A warm-up should be specific to the sport, and should include a progression in exercise intensity, and mobilisation of the muscles that will be used during the activity. If you have a paddle into the main white water this is an ideal time to use to warm up or if you are straight into it then maybe you might need to do a land based warm up

Warming Up using the “RAMP” Principle

The “ RAMP” principle was developed as a framework to effectively plan warm-ups that would lead to the outlined objectives above. This is as follows

R – Raise

A – Activate

M – Mobilise

P – Potentiate

Raise – This phase has the aim of elevating body temperature, hear rate and blood flow via low intensity activities

Activate – This phase has the aim of stimulating or activating key muscle groups that will be used within the sport.

Mobilise – This phase has the aim of actively working through a muscle through its range of motion

Potentiate – This phase has the aim of improving effectiveness of the subsequent performance.

What does a Generic On-Water Warm Up Look Like?

Step 1 – 5 Minutes paddle easy on flat water
Step 2 – 3 x 360 Circles on sweeps going left/ 3 x 360 Circles on sweeps going right

Step 3 – Offside Edge 360 Circle Left/ Offside Edge 360 Circle Right

Step 4 – 5 Minutes paddle medium to hard through gates

Step 5 – Specific White Water Moves – Crossing Flow/ Surfing etc

What does a Generic Off-Water Warm Up Look Like?

Step 1 – 5 Minutes Gentle Run

Step 2 – 4-6 Repetitions of 3 or 4 Full Body Activation Exercise  (Examples: Double Leg Bridge, Superman, Dynamic Plank or Single Leg Windmill)

Step 3 – 6-8 Reptations of each Rotator Cuff Muscles using Theraband (Theraband Exercises)

If you are getting on the water and only have an eddy to sit in before you go for it, trying some static edging exercises to feel connected to the boat before eddying out.

Make sure to fully warm up before trying anything as stylish as Zac. Penman in this photo! Photo, Blake Hornblow

Important Notes to remember:

– The older you are, the longer it takes to warm up

– The better shape you’re in, the longer it takes to warm up

– The higher the intensity and technical requirement of the river, the better the warm up needed

– The earlier in the morning, the better the warm up needed

– The colder the weather or the water, the better the warm up needed

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

Kayaking in NZ during a pandemic

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

What does whitewater paddling in NZ look like at the various pandemic alert levels? 

With today’s news about Covid-19 in the community we thought it would be worth reminding everybody about what whitewater paddling looks like at the different levels

Level 4.

  1. Stay home. 
  2. Stay safe. 
  3. Do not go whitewater paddling. 

Level 3. 

  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

Level 2:

  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

Level 1.

  1. Get out there
  2. Play it safe
  3. Be kind

Together we will beat this!!!

Kayaking at Level 1.

Monday, June 8th, 2020

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

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

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

Monday, May 11th, 2020

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. 

Fitness for Kayaking – Core Strength

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
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

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

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

Monday, April 13th, 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

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

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 [email protected]

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

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

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!