About our Kayak School

Since 2012 Canterbury Kayaking has been the industry leader in multisport kayak instruction. We are a relatively new organisation with a vision to provide you with a more effective way to reach your goals than has ever been offered before. We are very proud to currently be the most popular place in New Zealand to train for the Coast to Coast Race. We run skills courses specific to this race every week through summer, which almost always sell-out.

Ask around about us. We have built an excellent reputation both here in New Zealand and overseas. Our instructors are the most qualified in the country, and our modern teaching methods are specifically designed to help you reach your potential. If training with the best coaching available is important to you, we’d like to invite you to train with us this summer.

View Dates / Book Online

What You can Experience with us

Meet the Coaches

Sam Milne
Owner / Manager

Canterbury Kayaking’s founder. Sam has earned and maintained a solid reputation as one of New Zealand’s most effective kayaking skills coaches. The Coast to Coast Multisport Race has since become his speciality. Sam’s professional training in kayak instruction, plus locality to the Waimakariri River, formed a comprehensive understanding of Coast to Coast kayaking techniques. Sam coaches both beginners to the finish line, and elite level athletes to the podium. Most recently, professional multisport athlete Jess Simson, who won the Women’s 2-Day Race in 2013, then the Longest Day race in 2014 & 2015. Living in Christchurch, Canterbury’s rivers are Sam’s home. Travelling during the off-season to North America, Sam is always in pursuit of his own personal whitewater kayaking goals.

Sam's Qualifications
  • Bachelor of Adventure Recreation & Outdoor Education
  • NZOIA Kayak 1
  • Pre-Hospital First Aid
  • Kayaking Grade: V+

Rata Lovell-Smith
Whitewater Coach

Coach Rata is one of New Zealand’s top female paddlers and outdoor professionals. Paddling grade V+ whitewater for several years now. Back-to-back seasons both here in New Zealand and North America. Whitewater is Rata’s speciality and she has the qualifications to back it up. Each year Rata is heavily involved with the Coast to Coast Multisport Race as part of the river safety crew. Rata is also a highly effective communicator and kayak coach, making seemingly complex techniques easy to learn and understand. No matter what your current ability, Rata will help improve your paddling in no time and you’ll really enjoy paddling with her.

Rata's Qualifications
  • Diploma in Outdoor Leadership & Guiding
  • NZOIA Kayak 1
  • NZOIA Emerging Instructor Award 2017
  • Pre-Hospital First Aid
  • Kayaking Grade: V+

Phil Palzer
Whitewater Coach / Multisport Guide

Coach Phil is our advanced whitewater specialist. Phil is consistently kayaking more difficult whitewater – and with more style – than any of us here at Canterbury Kayaking. Phil’s level of control in a kayak is inspiring to watch, and makes for perfect images for you to learn from. He is also an experienced rafting guide, and emits high levels safety awareness at all times on the water. Fully trained and qualified as a kayak instructor, Phil makes learning to kayak a smooth process that supports your full potential. Phil has a unique and effective way of delivering his skills programs that will have you improving quickly, feeling safe, and loving kayaking.

Phil's Qualifications
  • Diploma in Outdoor Leadership & Guiding
  • NZOIA Kayak 1
  • Pre-Hospital First Aid
  • Kayaking Grade: V+