Good times at the 1st PRANZ Meet-up

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Over the weekend of 23/24 March, 25 member of PRANZ met in Te Anau, for the first official event of the Packrafting Association of NZ. It was pretty chilly at first, with fresh snow down to about 1000m on the Kepler Mountains, but the sun came out and warmed things up considerably!

The weekend began with a discussion led by Jamie McCauley, about cleaning Packrafts for Didymo and aquatic pest prevention. There were lots of good ideas and suggestions; we hope to turn them into a resource soon!

Didymo cleaning prior to the paddling! Photo/Mel Heather

Next, we headed out to the Waiau River, where we had a safety and rescue workshop, facilitated by Arno Marten. Everyone practiced and shared knowledge in self and buddy rescue, throw-bagging and white water swimming.

A merry band of PRANZers about to put on the Waiau. Photo/Mel Heather

After lunch Daniel Holland ran a great session on 1st aid for packrafters; using things like paddle blades for comfortable splinting, paddle shafts and spray jackets for improvised stretchers and traction, plus a bunch of good techniques for managing spinal injuries, hypothermia and other possible aflictions, using the gear we had on the side of the river.

The session on the water finished off with coaching on paddle stroke efficiency, then it was back to town for a monster Mexican pot-luck and lots of good networking.

Sunday began with a group discussion on the future of packrafting and the role of PRANZ;  lots of good ideas, plus a few volunteers!

  • Jo Wright is going to design us a PRANZ logo
  • Dan Holland is going to produce a bunch of PRANZ stickers and mail them out to members

We’ve got a few leaders who have volunteered to run some more PRANZ trips in their local area;

  • Tim Sikma – Wanaka
  • Elias Love – Queenstown
  • Matt Stevens – Southland
  • Hugh Canard – Canterbury

If you’d like to help mentor newbies into packrafting in your area, get a hold of us via the PRANZ facebook page.   Just a trip or two, here and there will make a huge difference to spreading the safety and responsible packrafting messages that PRANZ is all about. We’re looking to get more mini-meetups / trips happening around the country.  Its not hard to organise;  just set a time, a place, get a few folks who know the river and have the skills, have a read of the PRANZ Safety Management Plan and fill out a trip/intentions form…  If you’re keen to do it, get in touch via the PRANZ facebook page and we’ll help you through it!!

New friends on the Waiau. Photo/Mel Heather

We are still looking for more volunteers to;

  • Contribute resources to this web page (links to useful blogs/resources, articles on safety/gear/ethics)
  • Be an admin/assistant webmaster for this site.
  • Send river info (or become an admin/contributor) to create resources on
  • Spread the messages about PRANZ to your buddies, outdoor clubs, adventure racers etc etc…
  • And if you’ve got any ideas about PRANZ, then let us know!

After the meeting, we split into two groups;  one heading over the divide to paddle the Gunns Camp section of the Hollyford (II+), and the other group the Lower gorge section of the Eglinton (I/II-) a great weekend had by all!

19 PRANZ members (from 6 to 75 years old) about to paddle the Eglinton.


Gorgeous gorge on the Eglinton. Photo/Mel Heather


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