Every year in excess of 100,000 New Zealanders' participate in canoeing / kayaking for recreation on our rivers, lakes, and coast line.
These recreational paddlers benefit from the work of Whitewater NZ - the national organisation representing recreational whitewater canoeing and kayaking in New Zealand. With a purpose "to preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely" the organisation's work is divided according to conservation, access, safety, and education portfolios.
Dragon Boat Racing is a popular sport in New Zealand with large numbers of teams entering dragon boat festivals throughout the country.
Dragon boats are long, slim, open boats made to traditional designs of various sizes and lengths. The crew (generally of 22 consisting of 20 paddlers, one drummer and a helm) use single bladed paddles to drive the boat forward and race over a range of distances.
Flatwater racing in New Zealand is administered by Canoe Racing New Zealand and encompasses three distinct disciplines.
In Canoe Sprint events, paddlers race on a straight course, each boat in a separate lane, over three different distances : 200m, 500m and 1000m. There are kayak events, for men and women, in single (K1), double (K2) and four boats (K4), and canoe events, only for men, in single (C1), double (C2) and four boats (C4). This form of racing became an Olympic discipline in 1936.
Canoe Marathon Racing involves paddling sleek racing craft over long distances, on either the flatwater of lakes, and dams, or the flowing water of a river. Traditional Marathon Racing competitions, like ICF World Cup and World Championships, involve a fixed flatwater course with regular portages, where the paddler must carry the canoe or kayak. Each race lasts approximately 3 hours. Many popular marathons are raced down sections of river, where the paddler must negoitate the currents, rapids or weirs, or else portage around these obstacles.
Ocean Racing is an exciting new discipline encompassing long distance surfski events, sea kayak racing events, sea touring and long distance out rigger events. Several world class ocean racing events are run in New Zealand each year. The International Canoe Federation has recently established a working group to test and revise recently drafted rules for these type of races and will be initiating a world cup series in the near future.
Canoe slalom is an Olympic discipline and is one of the most spectacular watersports, demanding skill, stamina and courage. The aim is to run a rapid river course marked by "gates" fast, and without touching the gates.
A "gate" is two poles, suspended over the water. Green and white gates are negotiated in a downstream direction, red and white gates upstream. The gates are placed so that you must make tricky cross-current moves and use the eddies and waves. A touch is penalised with two seconds added to the competitor's time. Missing a gate costs 50 seconds - a wipeout in serious competition. Each competitor takes two runs, and the best run of the two counts.
Five classes compete: Men's and Ladies' Kayak (K1 and K1W), Canadian Singles (C1M and C1W) and Canadian Doubles (C2).
If you touch a pole with anything - paddle, boat, buoyancy aid, helmet or any part of your body - a two second penalty is added to your time. If you miss a gate out, or go through in the wrong direction or upside down, the penalty is 50 seconds! The aim is fast and clean.
Freestyle kayaking is a white water sport where the paddler performs a range of acrobatic tricks and manoeuvres on a river feature such as a wave or hole. The discipline is enjoyed by many as a recreational sport and at the top level by those participating in competitions both nationally and internationally. The sport is constantly moving forward with paddlers developing new spectacular moves.
Canoe Polo is a spectacular team game, which combines elements of water polo, basketball and canoeing! The game is played by two teams of five players each, trying to score goals with a waterpolo ball in a net suspended above the water at each end of a "playing pitch", which is often a swimming pool. The fast, exciting game is played in two halves of ten minutes each, and produces fast, robust action, where a wide range of skills, including the Eskimo roll, are regularly used.
The paddlers use short, manoeuvrable polo-boat kayaks, paddled with two-bladed paddles and wear helmets, facemasks and lifejackets for safety and protection.