As we wrap up this year and head into 2023, we start to make resolutions and set goals for the new year. Do you want to challenge yourself? Learn a new skill or try something new? Be a winner? Or make new friends at post-event parties?
Whatever your motivation, there are a range of paddling events and challenges coming up in the first half of 2023 that will fit the bill, whether you are looking to master your current paddling discipline or try the challenge of something new.
Canoe Sprint Racing
If short and sharp is your thing, there are two national Canoe Sprint events coming up, one of which even has a bit of international flavour.
Summer Super Sprints- 3/4 March, Twizel The 2nd edition of this South Island sprint event is set to be a sizzler. There is racing for all age groups in the Mens and Womens K1, K2 and K4 with 200m & 500m and 1000m races scheduled. https://www.canoeracing.org.nz/events/summer-super-sprint-2/
2023 Canoe Sprint NZ National and Oceania Championships- 21-23 April, Lake Karapiro The pinnacle of the canoe sprint domestic season, this event is also the Oceania Championships and we expect to see some of the best in the business line up. Racing open to all age groups from 12&U right through to Masters, or just come along and see how fast they can go! https://www.canoeracing.org.nz/events/4551/
Ocean Paddling Events
Whether on an ocean ski, Waka ama or Stand-up Paddleboard, ocean paddling is like the mountain biking of paddling- exciting, adventurous and much better going downhill. The 2022/23 Darcy Price series is in full swing, and with 6 races left on the calendar this summer all across NZ, it is all to play for whether you are vying for the top spot, or just trying to beat Dave.
Deep South Downwind- 21st January, Queenstown They say some people can't organise a piss-up in a brewery, but these guys can and have! But before the post-race celebration, paddlers will get to first enjoy the spectacular backdrop of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains asthey hope to make the most of the summer thermal winds on Lake Wakatipu at this brand -new event! With both a long course and short course (which includes a multisport boat division), this race in adventure-junkie paradise is not one to miss.
Queen and King of the Bay- 28/29th January, Tasman This event weekend in the beautiful Tasman region of the upper South Island includes 2 races to make for an awesome weekend of paddling. The King and Queen of the Bay is the South Island’s longest running surfski race, and for good reason. Run by legends for legends, every paddler comes away a winner for getting to paddle in one of the most beautiful places in the country. This is a particularly friendly race for less race-confident paddlers.
Bhutty Moore/2023 NZ Ocean Ski National Championships- 4th February, Tauranga
Not one for the faint hearted, this race is a challenge of epic proportions. In memory of James Moore (aka Bhutty) who lost his life on this stretch of water, the 32km Mount Maunganui to Makatu course (or reverse) has every paddler questioning their life choices at some stage along the way but the finish line tastes so sweet. To be able to compete, or complete, means that you will have had to have done the hard yards. So if you need some motivation to do the miles this over the festive season, the Bhutty is for you.
Heads to Harbour- 11th March, Whakatane
Now in its 3rd edition of the race, the Heads to Harbour race treats paddlers to an 19km race along the truly stunning coastline from Ohope to Whakatane Harbour. It’s the home of Lisa Carrington, so if nothing else, you hope whatever is in the water will sting your eyes and give you some of that golden magic to power you home.
Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour- 6th May, Auckland
The Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour is New Zealand’s premier ocean ski event, showcasing the spectacular paddling available in Auckland. While most people would think dodging ferries, container ships and JAFA’s on launches is not great, local paddlers know they have some of the best paddling around and everyone else is just jealous. With over 160paddlers on the start line last year, it’s a fantastic way to farewell the summer paddling season. With a range of crafts and course options available, this event has something to suit all type, ability and age of paddler.
Marathon Paddling The sport of marathon is a true test of a paddler’s tactics, endurance and athleticism. If you like paddling and running and have always thought they should be combined more, this is the sport for you.
2023 NZ Canoe Marathon National Champs- 21st May, Auckland Can you go the distance? Like running a marathon, this event will require mental and physical strength but nothing that can’t be done with a summer of paddling and a can-do attitude. Put it in your calendar now and get out on the water. You can worry about how portages work later on…
This is a great endurance event without the danger of open ocean or rocky rapids, so is suited to the “less crazy” paddler and the one that loves a tactical challenge. Open to kayaks, skis, and multisport boats of all ages.
If you like fast, adrenaline-pumping action and doing boat repairs, river racing will be your jam and there are some bangers to kick off 2023.
Waimak Classic River Race- 14th January, Waimakariri River It sells out in about 30seconds which should tell you something- it is awesome! Following the same course as the iconic Coast to Coast paddle section, this 76km grade 2 river is one of the most spectacular you’ll see. This great training on the course if you’re doing C2C, or a good way to do the river if running and cycling is not your thing. It’s sold out for this year, but put it on the list for next. It’s a must-do event for all kayakers. https://www.arawa.org.nz/classic.html#myPage
Rangitikei River Race- 15th January, Mangaweka The never-ending S-bends start to make you crazy as you could have sworn the finish was around that last one, but this event is way under-rated. It is a beaut stretch of water, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and no civilisation in sight. With 50km of 1-2 grade rapids (or 30km if you prefer), you need to stay focused and keep reaching for the jellybeans, but will be well rewarded with a sense of hard day’s work well done and a sausage sizzle.
2023 Paddler Virtual Champs – 1st-31st March 2022
This is the perfect event if you don’t like deadlines or having to leave your town. Over the month of March, all you need to do is paddle 12km where ever you want in whatever paddle craft you want (3km for U16 paddlers and SUP) and upload it on the line. The Paddler Virtual Champs is free to enter and you can do it as many times as you want. Warning, you may become obsessive and super competitive with yourself as you aim for self-improvement, and to beat Dave of course.
Whatever your thing is, there is something for you! Just put yourself out there and give it a go. But please do a favour to all the hard-working event organisers out there- don't leave it til the last minute to enter!
Be safe and have a epic padding summer.