Our committee

PRANZ is lead by a dedicated team of volunteers, who are committed to supporting NZ’s Packrafting Community.

The committee is made up of a President, Treasurer, and up to 13 general committee members.

President: Huw Miles

I’m Huw, based in Queenstown, from just outside London. Originally first came over here 11 years ago. Trained up as a riverboarding guide with Arno many moons ago. Left NZ for a few years and worked as a freelance expedition leader. I took groups of people from the UK all over the world to climb Kilimanjaro, or hike to Everest base camp/Machu Pichu/Grand Canyon/Great Wall of China etc etc. I also put together a series of first decents with my river board in those years away from NZ.
When my old boss decided he was gunna sell up the riverboarding business I decided to move back and put a bit in to buy him out with Arno. We we’re ultimately outbid but Arno said he had this other business idea and would I be interested in it… Packrafting. I pitched in with time, money and work to get the business started with Arno and there started by love affair with Packrafting. With my background in taking groups on hiking expeditions and my obsession with rivers, it seemed as though packrafting had been designed specifically to ensnare me!

Treasurer: David Stephenson

Originally from Yorkshire, I arrived in Wanaka with my girlfriend in 2017 and it was such an awesome place we never left. My background is in data analytics, and after a stint of purchasing at Cardrona Ski Resort I now work for Mons Royale doing data-ry stuff. I was first introduced to packrafting when a friend took me down the West Matukituki. It was so good, within a week I was demonstrating my excellent budgeting skills by spending my whole winters savings on an inflatable boat. To reassure you, I do have a masters in Maths and Physics, so I’m usually pretty good with numbers. Now, packrafting’s my go-to summer sport (ski touring in winter) so I’m keen to get involved, learn heaps and offer what I can!

General Committee member: Sarah Ellmer

That moment you get to inflate and paddle as part of your journey, gives an ultimate freedom and access to adventure that has many of us hooked.

PRANZ’s mission and objectives are no-brainers; to advocate for packrafting, to protect our access and environment, and to promote safety and development. We should all care about these things and they’re the responsibility of us all.

Living in Wanaka is a dream base for adventuring and there’s nothing better than being out in the bush with friends, camping under the stars and working as a team to packraft rivers.

PRANZ’s annual meetups are an extension of that; coming together to share, paddle, talk gear, skills, rivers and all things in between. It’s a fantastic family and we have tremendous fun.

General Committee member: Martin Robertson

I have been packrafting since 2017.  I’ve completed numerous trips in the lower North Island area.  In my teens and twenties I was an avid “whitewater tuber” and custodian of the Vic uni tractor tube collection.  Since then I’ve done lots of tramping, hunting, surfing, free diving and mountain biking.

I’m keen to see us grow the knowledge base around safe pack rafting as many seem to come to the sport from a tramping hunting background, rather than formally mentored through clubs in the way that kayakers are.  I’m hoping to work with the comittee on some simple stuff before that meet up like standardised hand signals, float plans and a river hazards one pager toolbox for meet ups.

I’m hoping that my project management and HSSE skills will prove useful to PRANZ.  I am responsible for making submissions on Council planning documents for Z Energy and regularly speak at conferences.  Outside of work I have made numerous personal submissions on environmental issues including the recent Ngarororo water conservation order.

General Committee member: Thomas Evans

Mad dog adventurer. Spend most weekends, and at least a couple annual multi week solo missions in the bush, be that rafting, tramping, hunting, trapping, fishing or exploring.

I enjoy finding those spots which are well off trail and haven’t been covered, at least in recent times, by humans.

Always keen to get out of the office and away from technology, living a pretty simple life.

Totally gear obsessed, and love a good yarn about the pros and cons, ultralight specifically!

I’m all about imparting knowledge on newcomers to any outdoor discipline, so definitely reach out if you are game for a real adventure.

General Committee member: Stu Bilby

Stu is into exploring wild remote places and wondering what lies up remote valleys.

He loves long-distance packrafting trips that take several months – walking the passes between catchments. He paddled and walked from Lewis Pass to the South Coast with his packraft. He may be obsessed with maps and detailed gear lists.

He is keen to see packrafters of all levels improve their skills and be able to access New Zealand’s amazing rivers.

Stu is based in Auckland and when not packrafting can be found solving water engineering problems or wandering the Himalayas.

General Committee member: Hugh Canard

Hugh got seduced by packrafting after many years kayaking and rafting. He tramped much of Canterbury and Otago, and took up kayaking with a passion in his late 30s and is a founding member of the Whitewater Canoe Club in Christchurch. He has held quite a few executive positions on the national association and is currently Patron of Whitewater NZ. He owned a sea kayaking business in the Abel Tasman and has been on more water management advisory groups in Wellington and Canterbury than he can count. As a kayaker he ran the first descents of the Turnbull River and the Arahura River, and has paddled as many rivers in NZ as he can. He loves long river trips and has run the Grand Canyon twice, all the major rivers in France, and has run the Clarence 15 times. Hugh is based in Christchurch, and is the man behind Blue Duck Packrafting.

“Packrafting is made for New Zealand, and I’m really committed to seeing it develop here in a safe enjoyable way.”