River Rescue Courses

Canoe Slalom BOP is proud to offer everyone the opportunity to develop their river rescue skills. We highly recommend that all athletes and anyone using the river attend these courses to help develop their awareness of being safe in and around the river environment.

CSBOP work together with White Water NZ to run River Rescue 1 and 2 Awards. These courses are delivered by a NZOIA II qualified instructor and at the completion of each course, participants will receive a White Water NZ River Rescue Certificate.

The River Rescue awards are split into two seperate levels dependant on the level of paddler, standard of water they will be on and their own personal experience.truct.

Click on the following link for more information about the River Rescue 1 course.

Click on the following link for more information about the River Rescue 2 course.

Course Dates

River Rescue 1 and River Rescue 2 will be organised periodically.

If you are interested in either of these courses please speak to one of the coaches.

NB: These courses have been developed for participants to develop their river rescue skills are not a assessment tool, although there is a level of competency needed to achieve the award.

Whitewater NZ River Rescue 1 for Kayakers Course.

Excellent for participants who are interested in learning the principles that help to promote safe white water kayaking.

The first day is based at Kawerau and the following day on the Rangitaiki river (Close to Murupara)

Course Information
This course is underpinned by a set of principles that help to promote safe white water kayaking. This course is a pre-requisite for River Rescue 2.

Course Principles

1. Principle of Mutual Support.
It is vitally important that all group members see themselves as part of a mutually supportive team.

2. Principle of Line of Sight.
There are two parts to this principle, the first is ensuring you can see safe clear water from where you are, to all the way to where you want to get. The second part is line of sight between group members.

3. Principle of Calculated Risk.
Always weigh up the risks involved and the likely benefits in all situations, there will always be a next time.

4. Principle of Clear Communication.
It is of vital importance that all team members understand all signals and that mistakes are not made in translation.

5. Principle of Visibility.
Personal visibility is vitally important and so is the visibility of your equipment if you want team members to know where you are, or be rescued, or to get your gear back.

6. Principle of Prevention.
Make the best use of manpower and equipment to try to prevent situations from starting or developing and ensure "clean rope" as much as possible.

Course Content


  • Equipment
    • Personal and group equipment available in New Zealand
    • Factors involved in their choice and use
  • Hydrology and the aquatic environment
  • Being your own rescue team
    • What is and what is not possible for your team
    • On river communication
    • River running strategy

Practical 1

  • Self rescue, safe swimming and danger of entrapment
  • Boat based rescues
  • Introduction to bank based rescues
  • Likely scenarios of swimmer and the 'yard sale'.

Practical 2

  • River trip
    • Application of the principles and techniques to promote safe boating, leadership and personal skill.

Whitewater NZ River Rescue 2 for Kayakers Course.

This course is designed for people who have already undertaken the river safety course and for those who are taking a leadership role on water above grade 3/class III.

The first day is based at Kawerau and the following day on the Rangitaiki river (Close to Murupara)

Guiding Principles for the Course

1. Principle of Personal Safety
You must not to add to the state of crisis; every action you take must be seen as a carefully measured risk. You must minimise the potential for putting yourself and your fellow rescuers in danger.

2. Principle of Victims Best Interests
Everything you do must be in the interests of the victim's safety; don't put the victim in more. Think about stabilizing the situation and then resolving it.

3. Principle of Simplicity
Simple rescues are fast to set up and often get the job done with a minimum of equipment, which in turn leads to a quick solution.

4. Principle of Maximum Usefulness
In every rescue situation it is vitally important to fully utilise your resources to make an expedient rescue. Roles and versatile equipment in a rescue are of high importance.

5. Principle of Clean RopeKnots need to be releasable under load and/or be able to pass through an HMS or pear shaped karabiner. Rescue ropes should have any knots or handles removed from the loose end.

6. Principle of Presumed Insanity
Never underestimate the power of a nearly drowning person to try to save them self at any cost. Don't let the victim drown the rescuer.

7. Core Principles of Gear Recovery
Rescues should never be confused with gear recovery. Rescues need instant action to minimise the situation spiralling out of control; people are in mortal danger. In a gear recovery people are not in danger so the rules of engagement have a very different focus. Of primary importance is to not endanger anybody.

8. Principle of Least Risk
Is the recovery of someone's gear really worth it? In gear recoveries time is of little consequence and careful consideration must be made and the time taken to double-check and ensure everybody's safety.

9. Principle of Clear Communication
When the time pressure is off in gear recoveries it is doubly important that mistakes are not made in your communications. Mistakes can be very costly in both time and peoples lives.

10. Principle of Using Natural Forces
Make it easy, let nature help you. Work downhill and/or with the flow of water wherever possible.11. Principle of Diminishing ReturnsUse the minimum mechanical advantage that gets the job done.

Course Content


  • Equipment available in New Zealand its use and dangers.
  • Rationalisation of equipment carried (too much or too little)
  • Team principle of rescues
  • Rescue timelines (Maintaining airway a priority)
  • Knowing your limits


The practical side of the course is broken down into four key areas:

  • Getting there
  • Extraction
  • Packaging
  • Evacuation

The course should cover but is not limited to the following skills in each category.

Getting there

  • Getting out of boats in hard places
  • Sprinting to rescue sites
  • Throw bagging
  • Paddle hooks
  • Getting ropes across 25m+
  • Pendulums
  • Ferries
  • Tracking
  • Improvised climbing/abseiling harnesses
  • Italian hitch and direct belays
  • Assisted hoist/ lower


  • Maintaining airways
  • Tools
    • Saws
  • Rope tricks
    • Zip line
    • V lower
    • Shuttle line
  • Mechanical advantage
    • 2-1
    • 3-1
    • vector pull
  • Rope and Kayak Ladders
  • Extraction from holes and of unconscious victims


Preparing evacuation, using the resources that are readily available on a kayaking trip.

  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Lacerations
  • Leg immobilisation
  • Hypothermia


  • Improvised stretchers
  • Rafting
  • Assisted ferries
  • Pontoons

Instructional Format

These skills should be taught in a series of workshops and scenario based experiences.