Wednesday, April 6, 2011

kayak school

New Zealand Kayak School in Murchison is a haven of kayaking.

First, the digs: you live in a sweet roomy lodge with a large kitchen. The staff make a fire for you while you are out kayaking, so you return to a warm haven.

Second there are 13 (plus) river runs all within 30 mins- all classes of water. And it is beautiful!

The founder of the Kayak school we attended is Mick Hopkinson is like a founder of white water kayaking. He was a member of a small team that made first descents of the river Inn in Switzerland and Austria, the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and the Dudh Khosi in Nepal. He tells tales about paddling down the Blue Nile with Ethiopians shooting at him in crocodile infested water. He's pretty hard core.

The course that Ali and I took was this 4 day intermediate course entitled something like "Catch the Wave". Alternative names could have been : "so, you think you can kayak" or "Roll camp". I don't want to give you the wrong impression- it was lovely and we had lots of fun, however it was loads of work.

The first thing that was a bit of a shock was after 6 weeks of doing whatever we want, whenever we want, all of a sudden we were on a schedule!!! (I do not want to think of how hard the adjustment to returning to work will be after 6 months...i'm not thinking of that right now though). Our days started at 8am, when we drove with our coach Shannon to the pool for roll practice (aka roll boot camp). We both abandoned our old CtoC (or what had become some version of the CtoC) roll for the Sweep roll, which Shannon swears by. After about a million rolls, he would film us doing them.

Side note: Alison asked Mick "how many rolls do you think you have done? Thousands?" to which Mick replied "Oh- I don't know. But i still practice my rolls. A thousand is a good number to start with". I think we did around 200-300 in our 4 days there. We've still got a ways to go.

Anyways, after pool session we had our first break and it was back to the lodge for second breakfast, dry off, warm up, watch the videos of our rolls...then it was back into our wet gear again for our second session. First day it was a flatwater session, other days it was our first river trip. Which involved more rolls (of course). Then second break. Then third river session.

Needless to say it was awesome, fun to get in a boat again, but exhausting. We learned a lot, tearing around in our Dagger RPM's (NZ kayak's school's philosophy is that you should paddle a very long boat for a very long time. Gives you more boat control they say. I still want a Fuse.)

It has been 4 days since Kayak school, and i am still doing rolls in my sleep. Wish we could do more kayaking on our trip! (Mick Hopkinson did tell us that we can kayak in both India and South Africa.).

The staff at NZ kayak school had recently acquired a pet goat: which we called cory because we couldn't understand what they were calling it in their kiwi accent (cordy? horty??)

Alison with goat.

There were kayaks everywhere! Here are just a few.

Alison in front of the 10 meter waterfalls we ran on our first day. No biggie.

Our Lodge: Kitchen

(Oh: tots joking about the waterfalls. no waterfalls for us)

Loungy area.

The Decor of the lodge is very appropriately all kayak related. This includes several of Mick's paddles from his expeditions. This one is the one he used on the crocodile infested Blue Nile.


  1. I definitely thought 10 METRE WATERFALL!!!!!!!!!!

    Emily also got me on April Fool's day. I was cautious all morning, watching for the escaped cattle on campus.

    Yay kayak school! I plan to go one day. In the meantime, I'm sure you have lots of advice for me and my roll. Please! I feel I have lost ground on my roll this winter.

    I think I'd like a pet goat. Maybe Rach can have one romping in her castle grounds, with the dik-diks.

  2. how wonderful! Kayaking in NZ! It sounds incredible! You guys! Guts and glory! Pat
    PS Kath. Cattle?!

  3. Well, you totally got me about the 10m waterfall...and I totally thought you guys could do it too. Seriously. What do I know about kayaking??? I think you can fly too, if you told me you developed that skill....

    april fool's day in wee care preschool goes something like this..."teacher, look out the window, there's a (cow, snake, monkey, etc) 50x

    fun with four and five year olds!!!!

    And Kath should totally get a goat!!! xoxox