Coaching at Arawa includes paddlers at all levels - from beginners to through to National representatives. There are three branches of coaching at Arawa – Multisport, Sprint, and Juniors. Each of these is dealt with separately below.


Club coaches offer their time and expertise on a voluntary basis to provide members with the opportunity to develop their skills in a friendly, supportive environment.

Multisport Coaching

Much of our club membership is made up of paddlers who are either recreational paddlers, or are involved in multisport racing for events such as the Classic River Race or the Coast to Coast. If this is you, then please consider our Multisport Coaching Sessions below. We have some great coaches who would love to help.

Multisport Beginners Trial Sessions

Saturday - 9:00am to 10:00am

Our beginner training sessions are aimed at those new to our sport and are free of charge for members. If you want to try kayaking, you can attend three sessions free of charge before we ask you to join the club. We can supply kayaks, paddles and life jackets, but be aware, if you are using club gear you will need to get there early, as it is "first in, first served" and people have their favourite items! We have a limited number of club beginner boats. he first time you come down it pays to arrive around about 15 minutes early. This will allow time for our team to show you where everything is and to help you select an appropriate boat.

Arawa Beginner Sessions include:

  • A tour of the club facilities.
  • Education around safety and the rules of the Avon River (lifejackets must be worn by beginners – no exceptions).
  • Instruction in the selection and use of club equipment.
  • Instruction in basic paddling technique.
  • An onwater lesson – Sessions are held wet or fine. If conditions do not permit getting on the water, the lesson may be conducted upstairs at the club using the paddling ergometers.

You must be over 15 years of age to attend. We do ask that beginners are able to swim and have a reasonable level of water confidence, to the extent that they can get to the bank in the event of capsize.

The main focus of the beginner sessions is getting good habits built in at an early stage – power and speed come later.

Most of our beginner session paddlers are aiming for the Coast to Coast, so the coaching is broadly structured around that goal. If you intend to do the C2C, get started with your paddling as soon as you can – April/May/June will ensure you get enough paddle skills and miles under your belt to ensure you enjoy the Waimak, rather than grovel and swim your way down.

Intermediate Multisport Session

Thursday 5:30 - 7:00pm

These sessions are designed to build your confidence and prepare you to bridge the gap between this group and our more experienced paddlers in the Thursday night Weed-catchers group. The sessions build on what you have learned from beginner sessions, so prior knowledge and basic technical ability is assumed. Before attending Intermediate sessions please consult with one of the club coaches to confirm that you are ready.

The sessions include some refinement of technique and training advice, but the main focus of your time on the water will be on getting through interval sessions designed to help you get to the point where you will be adequately prepared in terms of speed and fitness to enter the ‘weedies’ environment. Thursday night intermediate sessions operate on the assumption that paddlers are keeping up a good volume of long steady aerobic training in their own time, and will on the whole therefore target “threshold” intensity levels and possibly some VO2 Max work. Please allow up to 90 minutes for these sessions including warm up and warm down.

At the end of every month, one of our ‘weedies’ coaches will join the session to assess individual capabilities, and invite those who are ready, to move up to the more advanced group. There is nothing to stop individuals moving up of their own accord, but we would strongly advise that you don’t do this until the coaches give you the nod, as we want your experience of our advanced multisport training group to be a positive one.

Advanced ‘Weedies’ Interval session

Thursday 5:30 - 7:00pm

The Weedcatchers sessions are almost as old as Arawa!  These sessions are held on Thursdays at 5:30pm, from the Clubrooms. The session starts at the first downstream bridge at 5:45pm.

Weedcatchers is a high intensity interval session for more advanced kayakers. Coaches change weekly, and each coach has their favourite sets, so be prepared to be challenged differently each week. Although you can just turn up to these sessions if you wish, we do want your experience to be a good one, and it is recommended that you first attend Intermediate sessions to judge if you are ready.

These sessions are a great way to meet fellow paddlers, test yourself, and push yourself that bit more than what you would on your own. The first Thursday of every month the Weedies Crew converge on the Speights Ale House on Bealey for a post weedies catch-up and a bite to eat.  We do tactfully suggest that if you've been for a paddle you take a shower first!

Grade 2 Certification

Arawa do not provide coaching or examiners for Grade 2 certificates. If you are interested in this, please contact one of the providers readily contactable through the internet. Ask around other club members for recommendations if you are unsure.

Sprint Kayak Coaching

Kayak sprint is a very fast and exciting Olympic sport raced over distances from 200m to 1000m. Events are raced in single kayaks(K1’s), and 2 and 4-person team boats (K2’s and K4’s). New Zealand is currently enjoying a high level of success in this sport at an International level.

At National level, Arawa teams race in all categories from 13years, 14years, 16years, and 18years and under, to Open, to Masters, to Novice. Opportunities also exist for paddlers to involve themselves in marathon kayak racing over much longer distances. There are several competitions that we contest each year locally and also in Twizel, Rotorua, and Cambridge (Lake Karapiro).

Arawa currently has five paddlers representing New Zealand internationally at Junior, Senior, and Paralympic level, and our club holds the National trophies for being NZ’s Top Club, Top Tyro club (U13’s), Winner of the Club relay, and Top Junior Club. Canoe Racing New Zealand have been developing a national High-Performance pathway in recent years with a view to seeing more New Zealand athletes performing on the world stage, and there is now a very clear pathway to the top. Arawa currently have 11 young paddlers on this pathway, showing the strength that we are developing in the junior ranks. These athletes attend regular camps at Lake Karapiro in Cambridge where they receive expert coaching to develop the skills required to perform at the highest level, and are drilled in team boats with those they are likely to be involved with in international teams in the future.

Arawa are also lucky to have several top coaches who work with athletes at local, national, and international level.

Junior and Tyro(U13) Coaching

Juniors are classed as paddlers under the age of 18 years, and generally begin paddling with our Sprint Development Programme (see below) to develop sound technique and training habits.

Those aged 13 and under fall under our ‘Tyro Programme’ which has a dedicated coach, and we have a fleet of specialised boats for this group. Tyro sessions are held on Thursdays after school and Saturday mornings. If you are interested in engaging your child in either programme please contact Paul at coaching@arawa.org.nz

Sprint Development Squad

This squad's focus is on developing sprint kayak paddlers whose goal is to race either kayak sprint or marathon disciplines. We also regularly assist young surf lifesavers interested in paddling surf ski, and who wish to establish good technique from the start, or to improve their existing technique. The group caters to paddlers from absolute novices through to Open paddlers at New Zealand representative level. We have a great group of very involved parents, and a strong supportive group culture. We also work hard, and we have a lot of fun.

Paddlers can begin racing at the age of 8 years, so we will generally accept paddlers from that age onwards, but in saying that, every paddler needs to be reasonably competent in the water, to the point that they can make their way to the bank if they were to capsize.

For those who decide to join the squad, we have regular technique and training sessions on the water, together with gym sessions, Pilates, and a weekly boot camp session. Meeting with the coach at the local café on a Saturday morning is also an important chance to debrief for the week and plan for the future.

Other Sprint Squads

There are several other smaller groups of Masters and Open K1 paddlers at the club who train together in self-managed groups on a more informal basis. We also have one ‘para’ sprint paddler, and have recently had a ‘C1’ canoe sprint paddler join the club.


Arawa is very fortunate to have a committed bunch of wonderful volunteers willing to share their knowledge and experience. If you're looking for help, you've come to the right place.

Coaches Meetings

Club Coaches meet regularly to discuss ways to develop and improve the coaching provided and adapt to the changing needs of the club membership.

Join the Team

Coaching is a very rewarding activity. There are always opportunities to learn and develop coaching skills which lead to a greater understanding paddling technique and what it takes to make a kayak go faster for longer. We are always looking for new coaches to help spread the volunteer work load. If you are interested in becoming a coach, have a chat to any of the current team or contact the coaching coordinator.