Join NZ’s most comprehensive Coast to Coast kayaking pathway.

If you’re thinking of competing in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast, or you’d simply like to learn to kayak, then our Grade 2 Certificate Kayak Course will help you gain the essential river skills, plus assessment.

Run by professional kayak coach Sam Milne, New Zealand’s highest qualified instructor currently operating on the Waimakariri River. Sam has logged well over a hundred guided runs down the Coast to Coast route and coached a number of Longest Day champions. Regional Ambassador for Whitewater New Zealand, many people regard him as the best multi-sport kayaking instructor in the country.

This Christchurch based four-day program provides you with ample river time, and plenty of experience paddling real whitewater rapids. We will develop your whitewater technique, and prepare you for paddling the Wiamakariri River. Experience our innovative and modern approach that that paddlers have been raving about in reviews.

Learning to roll back up is included as part of your time with us. This skill is not required by the Coast to Coast, but will help you feel more comfortable with the river, and allow you to become a safer paddler. Boat & equipment hire is included, so you don’t need to have your own equipment yet to join this program.

Because getting to Christchurch for four days is so easy, people come to paddle with us from all over New Zealand, Australia, and beyond. We regularly work with paddlers from Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, West Coast, Dunedin, Sydney, Brisbane, London, and more!

Dates 2020

Select your preferred date below to book now. Click here to download an information pack.


  • Grade 2 Kayak Certificate NZ assessed during the four days.
  • Officially endorsed and recommended by Kathmandu Coast to Coast.
  • No experience required (Core Skills Session optional).
  • Guaranteed to run regardless of weather/flow. We will not delay your assessment due to bad weather.
  • Kayaks and equipment use included.
  • Learn in a small group size of just four paddlers per coach.
  • Receive professional support from an NZOIA qualified instructor.
  • Learn over four consecutive days so you reach a higher skill level.
  • Final two nights away from town (accommodation and dining options available at own expense).
  • Fully safety audited & registered with AdventureMark.


  • You must be able to swim.
  • You need to be of good health & fitness.
  • You need to be between 16-65 years old.
  • You need to be between 50-110kg.

Skills You’ll Learn

  • How to roll up in moving water.
  • How to set up equipment.
  • All necessary strokes & draws.
  • How to read the river and rapids.
  • How to break in & out of eddys.
  • How to ferry glide across the flow.
  • How to paddle whitewater rapids.
  • How to identify river hazards.
  • How to self-rescue.
  • River safety & hypothermia.
  • Plus much more!

G2 Assessment

Assessment is included in this program, but please be aware that passing on the first try is not a guarantee. While you don’t need to have any previous expereince to attend this program, if you have never been in a kayak before, we recommend considering our optional Core Skills Course in order to get a feel for paddling first. If you do happen to need a re-assessment later, we can usually provide some fair and cost effective options to support you in gaining the required skills.


“I’ve learned a huge amount and had a lot of fun”

Thanks for a great course! I’ve learned a huge amount and had a lot of fun over the last four days. This is definitely the start of a new hobby and I’m looking forward to getting out on the river again soon! 

Alice Partridge (Christchurch) / Dec 1, 2019

“I couldn’t recommend this course higher. It is incredible.”

For anyone wanting to do Coast to Coast and not just finish, but have the confidence and competence in whitewater, then this program is a must. In four short days I’ve gone from zero whitewater experience, to being able to confidently navigate grade 2 water and roll reliably in flowing current. I couldn’t recommend this course higher. It is incredible.

Damian Harvey (Auckland) / Nov 10, 2019

“Not every sportsman makes a good coach, but you guys are the exception”

My brother who kayaks a lot in Canterbury recommended you guys because of your good reputation in teaching skills. It really showed how well you guys coached when you broke down the skills into separate parts, and by adding more layers to make them harder – not every sportsman makes a good coach, but you guys are the exception. The program had a great layout of sessions over the 4 days. Each one prepared you for the next, step by step. It was a really great trip, thanks very much!

Nicola Peat (Auckland) / Oct 27, 2019

“An awesome program whether you’re an experienced paddler, or if you are starting from scratch”

This is an awesome program whether you’re an experienced paddler, or if you are starting from scratch and want to learn right from the beginning. Even if the big white waves or boiling water worry you, the course starts at the beginning and gives you the building blocks bit by bit, so when you are on the river your are ready for what’s to come. 

Tim Lawrey (Christchurch) / Oct 13, 2019

“Your support and encouragement has helped me progress so much”

I had such an amazing time. Thank you so much. Your support and encouragement has helped me progress so much in the last few days and gain the skills I need to kayak safely on grade 2. Your enthusiasm and overall outlook to kayaking has been amazing. I really enjoyed my Canterbury Kayaking experience.

Nicky Rooney (Greymouth) / Sep 29, 2019

“High level of professionalism, expertise and integrity”

Canterbury Kayaking provided me with a thorough and professional introduction to whitewater kayaking. I benefited from Coach Sam’s ability to teach technical skills in both the small group and one-on-one situations and particularly how he focused on identifying necessary elements of my skills in order to develop within the river environment. Why I would recommend Canterbury Kayaking would be the high level of professionalism, expertise and integrity.

Nick Dugan (Governors Bay) / Sep 22, 2019

“As an absolute beginner, the structure of the course was perfect”

As an absolute beginner the structure of the course was perfect in introducing and building skills from the pool, to the lake, and then transferred to a whitewater environment. This method allowed confidence to be built upon with each new challenge. Highly recommended to those looking to get out there on the river.

Gerard Mayes (Nelson) / Sep 22, 2019

“Very professional”

I would describe Coach Sam and Canterbury Kayaking as very professional. He cares about his learners and wants his group to get the grade 2 certificate. He will do everything in his bag of tricks and skills to help you achieve that. Highly recommended.

Caleb Hill (Nelson) / Sep 22, 2019

“There was a huge amount of content covered in a clear and controlled progression”

Booking was an easy process to follow, clear timetable and good follow up with a phone call before the trip. Coaches were very knowledgeable and from their confidence on the water it is obvious their skill level is very high. Explanations were clear and feedback was honest. There was a huge amount of content covered in a clear and controlled progression. I always felt safe with my coaches close by.

Liam Cosgrove (Christchurch) / Sep 15, 2019

“A relaxed atmosphere to learn in while having fun”

Both Phil and Sam are awesome coaches. They are very knowledgeable, provide a safe environment, and create a relaxed atmosphere to learn in while having fun.

Manu Miskell (Christchurch) / Sep 15, 2019

“Well organised and filled with lots of good information”

Awesome four days. Well organised and filled with lots of good information to take away. I’ll be recommending this to other people.

Andy Mckenzie (Christchurch) / Sep 8, 2019

“I really appreciated the gradual pace of learning”

I really appreciated the gradual pace of learning during the four days, plus the patience of both coaches Sam and Rata.

Ian Harvey (Greymouth) / Apr 14, 2019

“Great program to learn core paddling skills”

Great program to learn core paddling skills. Sam is an honest and straight forward coach. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn white water kayaking.

Marek Kuziel (Tai Tapu) / Apr 7, 2019

“An essential first step”

An essential first step to understanding whitewater kayaking if you’re looking to compete in the Coast to Coast. I felt super safe and had a great expereince.

Tom Feeney (Sydney, Australia) / Mar 31, 2019

“A very good coaching program”

This was a very good coaching program. Sam first ensured the skills were mastered, and then onto the next – culminating in it all coming together which was awesome to feel.

Brian Northern (Christchurch) / Mar 24, 2019

“I highly recommend this”

Sam was very good at explaining everything and very patient with everyone on the course with a range of skill sets. I highly recommend this and can’t wait to get back into more paddling soon.

Darcy Bishop (Oxford) / Mar 3, 2019

“This greatly improved my confidence in the river”

As a returning paddler after many years away, it was good to learn some proper skills that I hadn’t been taught the first time around. This greatly improved my confidence in the river, especially in rapids.

Dave Candy (Christchurch) / Nov 24, 2019

“I would highly recommend this”

Great team! Sam and his instructional team convey the lessons in a practical and easy to process manner. Overall this was a great course and I would highly recommend this to anyone interested.

Matthew James (Christchurch) / Nov 11, 2018

“Great program and confidence building opportunity”

Great program and confidence building opportunity for me. Heaps more rolling focus than the course I did with another outfit a few years ago, which was a great thing. I would recommend buying the semi-dry or full-dry paddle jacket Canterbury Kayaking sells to be more comfortable in the cold water and make the most of things.

Chris Middlemiss (Christchurch) / Oct 28, 2018

“I was amazed at how much I had learned”

Each of the four days was well structured, building on the skills learned from the previous day. Sam and Phil’s personalities complemented well with the way they approached their teaching. I always felt safe with them and they almost seemed to have eyes at the back of their heads because they always seemed to be aware of what everyone was doing. I started the course as an absolute newbie, having never even been in a kayak prior to the course. By the end of day four I was amazed at how much I had learned and have already joined the local whitewater club so that I can enjoy the water more and to continue to build on the skills learned during the course. Well done Sam and Phil for what was a fabulous four days of kayaking.

John Chong (Christchurch) / Oct 14, 2018

“I enjoyed every second”

Really well organised, very professional and extremely proficient instructors. I enjoyed every second, and would thoroughly recommend this to anyone thinking about doing Coast to Coast or wanting to increase their skills and knowledge on the river. The gradual progression made it all seem very natural and made me feel very comfortable in the water. Thanks Phil and Sam – absolute legends.

Amy Cunningham (Auckland) / Sep 23, 2018

“I developed my skills a lot further than I expected”

I had a great time, developed my skills a lot further than I expected. This has helped me with my preparation for the Coast to Coast – Cheers Sam & Phil.

Steve Brown (Oxford) / Sep 16, 2018

“I went from zero, to rolling my kayak in just 3 days”

Really enjoyed the course. I can’t believe I went from zero, to rolling my kayak in just 3 days. Cheers guys!

Chris Kimber (Christchurch) / Sep 9, 2018

“I couldn’t imagine doing Coast to Coast without this”

An amazing course. It improved my ability and changed my perception of whitewater paddling. I couldn’t imagine doing Coast to Coast without this.

Kelly Leonard (Nelson) / Apr 29, 2018

“Coaches skill level was outstanding”

Extremely professional course. I felt very safe and informed with every aspect. Both coaches skill level and understanding was outstanding. Thanks Sam & Rhys.

Scott Cochrane (Prebbleton) / Apr 22, 2018

” An amazing time, I loved it!”

Sam and his team were great at giving us the skills and confidence required to tackle the challenges of the weekend. They were great at pushing us just enough to learn, while their expertise made me feel like I was always safe – even when things didn’t quite go to plan. Thanks for an amazing time, I loved it!

Emma Jessop (Christchurch) / Apr 15, 2018

“This course is brilliant”

I still can’t believe the transformation we all went through over 4 days! This course is brilliant. I’m already scheming when I can get in a boat next! Thanks Coach Sam & Rhys!!!

Tarsh Turner (Christchurch) / Apr 8, 2018

“The perfect length of time to gain skills and confidence”

Awesome intro to whitewater kayaking. Four days was the perfect length of time to gain skills and confidence and apply this to the river. Coach Sam was very motivating and was able to break down key skills step by step, and continue coaching these skills day by day. It was great learning to roll, which gave me confidence to tackle the river. It was super enjoyable camping away for two nights and being close to the river. I couldn’t recommend this course enough for someone looking to complete their grade 2 cert.

Shaun Harrington (Christchurch) / Mar 4, 2018

“The best outdoor skills course I have participated in”

This has been the best outdoor skills course I have participated in. The equipment, theory, and coach professionalism all score 10/10 for me. I had a great time.

Ian Stewart (Queensland, Australia) / Feb 19, 2018

“Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience”

The program flowed and progressed nice and smoothly despite adverse weather conditions. Coach Phil focused on everybody’s needs individually. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend Canterbury Kayaking to anybody interested in paddling.

Bryson Lee (New South Wales, Australia) / Jan 14, 2018

“Had an absolute blast”

I had an absolute blast. Best 4 days of Coast to Coast preparation I have done.

Chris Ball (New South Wales, Australia) / Nov 26, 2017

“I loved this course”

Coach Sam has a super personality and has a way to inspire confidence in you. I loved the four days and highly recommend it to anyone looking to do their Grade 2 or to get some skills in their boat.

Steve Provis (West Coast) / Nov 12, 2017

“Well worth it”

I enjoyed it a lot. Camping is such a great way to immerse yourself in paddling. Coach Sam was a great teacher and certainly had a lot to offer, as well as a good yarn afterwards. Such an awesome and intense 4 days, but well worth it!

Ben Parsons (Nelson) / Nov 12, 2017

“A fantastic experience”

The Canterbury Kayaking Grade 2 course was a fantastic experience. Sam’s expertise was amazing coupled with his passion to make us push ourselves for ongoing improvement. It was very challenging at times and by all means not easy but Sam made it all feel safe. The detailed website and information supplied made the trip from out of town easy. I’ve booked more training with Canterbury Kayaking in the future and would not hesitate to recommend them.

Simon Collett (Nelson) / Nov 5, 2017

“A great introduction to kayaking”

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Sam & Phil. The 4 day program was a great introduction to kayaking and while it was challenging, I enjoyed learning a new skill set and further improving my paddling. I also felt very safe under the their guidance.

Kirsty Sclater (United Kingdom) / Oct 15, 2017

“Challenging and exciting”

I was a really easy process to book on. The lessons progressed in a way that was tailored to the skills in the group so always challenging and exciting. Coaches Sam & Phil were encouraging and approachable. I will definitely be recommending this to friends interested in learning to paddle.

Karl Bowen (Christchurch) / Sep 7, 2017

“Completely exceeded my expectations”

I think I went into this fairly “green”. I had already purchased a multisport boat based on others advice and had figured that the Grade 2 Certificate was just another “box I had to tick” in order to do the Coast to Coast Race. Canterbury Kayaking has completely exceeded my expectations and rather than just “ticking a box” I have come away with a new found passion. Sam and his team, Rata and Phil, have now set me off in the right direction and I feel that I will be a more skilled and safer kayaker because of it! Thanks so much guys love your work !!!

Cameron Smith (Christchurch) / Sep 3, 2017

“Good value for money”

Did this about 4 month’s out from the Coast to Coast 2017. Found it to be very well structured, telling you just what you need to know at the right time so that you’re not jumping ahead, but concentrate on the lesson at hand. This was also my first intro to white water and thoroughly enjoyed it. Largely because of the steady increase in skills and theory over the 4 days, with the knowledge that a coach is just there for a rescue if needed. The lake sessions were good to get the trust dialled in. I’d done some cost comparisons for the course & gear purchased and can recommend good value for money. Also added on the multisport course immediately after this four days which was a great way to do it.

Andy Clare (Dunedin) / Feb 18, 2017

“Awesome course”

Thanks so much for the awesome course – without it I would definitely have struggled my way through the kayak leg of the coast to coast. I improved my technique, learnt to roll and gained enough skills and confidence to be looking forward to the river section rather than worrying about it! Thanks again.

Andrew Cantwell / Feb 17, 2016

“The enthusiasm is infectious”

It’s been so lovely to be taught by someone with bundles of passion for their sport, who puts in huge amounts of time and effort in encouraging every paddler. With Canterbury Kayaking’s help I was really looking forward to the paddle on race day, instead of being nervous! I’m super grateful for all the kit and gear advice too. Everything came together on the day, and despite rough weather I had no swims! I could even hear Sam’s voice in my head down the river calling out ‘edge’, ‘rudder’! Thanks Sam…had a fantastic time. Just a warning to everyone though, the enthusiasm is infectious…you’ll find yourself loving kayaking too!!

Lucie Stanley / Feb 16, 2016