New Zealand’s West Coast region is one of the world’s top kayaking destinations. As the profile of the sport grows, more kayakers from around the world are finding out about the scenic beauty of the West Coast’s gorges and rivers.
Internationally recognised kayakers have been visiting the West Coast in increasing number since the early 1990s. Kayakers from around the world are attracted by the region’s high quality, challenging white waters (grade 4 and 5) in beautiful, remote and almost inaccessible gorges.
New Zealand boasts several of the world’s best expedition and freestyle kayakers, and top international paddlers who visit include:
- Allan Ellard (England) is a prolific expedition paddler and spends most of his time abroad. He is at the cutting edge of exploratory white water kayaking
- Andy Phillips (England) visits the West Coast every summer and spends the rest of the year competing in freestyle events in Europe
- Arnd Schaeftlein (Germany) aka ‘Old Man River,’ counts the West Coast as a favourite kayaking destination. He is a seasoned professional with a tremendous reputation
- Olaf ‘Ollie’ Koehler (USA) is perhaps the West Coast’s most recognised annual visitor, known for his huge beard and friendly demeanour. He turned 50 in 2002, and has spent at least 10 years visiting the West Coast.