National meetup 2021 St Arnaud

1 pm Thursday 21st Jan to 4pm Sunday 24th Jan

Rotoiti Outdoor Education Centre Lodge

These events just keep getting better!  This year we are introducing some formal training opportunities and hoping to see some post event missions.

Come along and meet others with a common interest and enthusiasm for packrafting.  Meet and learn from experts, share your adventures, offer others your knowledge and experiences, and make new friends and network.

Two steps

1  Make sure you are on the 2021 National Meetup event on PRANZ Facebook to keep up to date with changes and announcements.

2  Register for the event HERE and we will email you details as the date approaches.

The Sixth National Meet-up

This will be number six.  It follows the successful pioneering National Packrafting Meet initiated by Dulkara Martig at Murchison (2016),  the first official PRANZ meet at Boyle River (2017), Te Anau (2018)  Hanmer Springs (2019) and Queenstown (2020).   

The dates are the Thursday through to Sunday. Don’t forget to add a few more days onto your visit to tackle some of the nearby packraft adventures in Nelson, Marlborough, Buller or North Canterbury.

Put-ins or road-ends for some epic multi-day trips are within a couple of hours e.g. the Clarence, Waiau, Pelorus and Grey.  Get a team together and set out on your own adventure after the Meet-up.


This event is open to PRANZ members only.  Being a member of PRANZ allows you to register for PRANZ events, plus makes you a supporter of our affiliated organisations (Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ and Whitewater NZ), who advocate on our behalf for Packrafting.

You can Join PRANZ on our website, membership is valid for 1 year. With a calendar year from June.

Registration link coming soon!  What matters now is that you get these dates in your calendar.

Sign up to the Facebook event HERE for updates – You will also need to complete a REGISTRATION FORM HERE

What do you get for your money?  

The registration fee goes towards event costs and wider PRANZ activities.

We’ve got a great deal for accommodation this year and it’s included in the registration.

We will also have a kitty for shuttle drivers fuel this year.  If you have a car fill it with fuel. If you are hitching a lift each day pop money in the kitty for redistribution to drivers. 

What to Expect

Here’s a video of last year’s Queenstown meet highlights.

PRANZ 2020 MEETUP – QUEENSTOWN from David stephenson on Vimeo.


It’s a social gathering.  Talk, chat, eat, drink, and go packrafting.


It is an opportunity to share and participate in packrafting activities – on water and on land. 


This will be an opportunity to review and progress PRANZ, to decide what is needed to maintain and grow safe enjoyable packrafting in New Zealand.  There will be time allocated to discussion of what PRANZ will go after in 2021. For example training scholarships and instructional videos have been suggested.

Who should come?

All Packrafters, and their friends and families.  Wannabe packrafters are welcome but may not be able to participate in some of the more technical paddles.

Beginner to expert, there will be something for everyone. Families are welcome, as the non-packrafters and kids will find plenty to do.

I’ve never been packrafting before… Can I join in?

The paddling at this meetup is intended for people who have already been packrafting. There will be an assessment of self rescue competence (so practice getting in and out of your boat). Some trips will only be open to those who demonstrate the appropriate skill levels. You must be self reliant on the water and have your own gear and at least the basic knowledge of swift water safety and hazards.    The meet-up paddles are not a place for someone who hasn’t got a few trips under their belt already.

There is a way around this if you have never packrafted or you have only basic packrafting skills – you can enrol for a Packrafting 101 course ahead of the event.  You’ll learn to read a river, re enter your boat, safely float thru a rapid and the basic strokes and techniques like cutting into eddies.

Commercial Operators

All retailers, importers, tour operators and instructors with offerings of direct interest to packrafters are welcome. Contact PRANZ in advance for our requirements.

You can bring a van or put up a tent with your products or services on offer. An area will be allocated outside the Hub.

You can offer to sponsor a program item subject to the approval of PRANZ. You are encouraged to do so.  Be creative and give packrafting a boost.

The Program

Official events are dependent on the goodwill of the right people to volunteer their time to run those events.  If you have organisational, coaching, mentoring etc skills to offer then contact PRANZ via our Facebook page.

Thursday – Registration and afternoon paddle on Lake Rotoiti and evening talk.

Friday to Sunday will be river flow dependent – we have scouted:

  • the Buller Source,
  • various upper Buller runs,
  • multiple Wairau runs,
  • the Matakitaki and
  • the Matiri.

What we run will depend on rainfall and paddling skills.

Evening talks programme

PRANZ – intro and formal event briefing

A Nother – Upping your game on the water

Huw Miles Packrafting Queenstown – Group Paddling – Be the paddler you’d like to paddle with.

Saturday – Trade talks and shared dinner in the Mexican tradition

Training Opportunities

Pre Event Programme  – Packrafting Queenstown will be facilitating some training opportunities independent of the PRANZ Event.

The detailed program will be posted in due course. If you have questions or suggestions pop a post on the PRANZ page.

Local Rivers

There are heaps of rivers in the area for the event and for after-event missions. Some of these are listed on the Packrafting Trips NZ website.  Here’s a summary of some options to get you keen!

Wairau – loads of Class II and some exciting Class III.

Buller – Source Run Class II to II+

Buller to 4 Rivers – so many runs so little time! Class II to III

Buller tributaries – Mangles Matiri Matakitaki and Maruia


You’ll need to get your tickets and pay a registration fee.  This supports PRANZ and helps cover the costs of hiring the venue, other general costs of running the event, and goes towards a few of the out of pocket expenses that our awesome volunteers are incurring to run a fun weekend for all of us!

The Event is great value at only $60 (kids free).

Accommodation is a flat rate for three nights at the lodge of $90 pp (mandatory for all including kids). This includes one shared meal and a bed in one of the bunk rooms.

The Pre Event training courses must be booked separately through Packrafting Queenstown.  They will be held on the Upper Buller or Wairau depending on conditions at the time.  There is camping at numerous DOC sites near these venues (the Lodge is not booked until Thursday night).

Check-in will be on the deck from 1pm on Thursday the 21st of January. After check-in we will have a gear safety check on the Lake and an opportunity to swim with the infamous eels of the Buller. This session will be sponsored by Blue Duck Packrafting.

This event is only for PRANZ members. Membership currently costs $30. 

You do not need to join PRANZ if you are visiting NZ and can show membership of your national Packrafting Association.

Join PRANZ here.

Getting There

You can drive via Blenheim or the West Coast. Nearest Airports are Blenheim and Nelson, or catch a lift with someone from Christchurch. The Interislander and Bluebridge Ferries should be booked well in advance if taking a car across the strait, as it’s Wellington Anniversary weekend (25 January).


I’ve never been Packrafting before… Can I join in?

This meetup is intended for people who have already been packrafting, and who have their own gear and some basic knowledge of swift water safety and hazards.

BUT you can learn enough to participate if you book in for a Packrafting 101 course in advance.

Can I stay somewhere else?

Preferably not as we want/need everyone at the venue to cover the minimum hire charge.  You are welcome to stay somewhere else but all the evening talks, morning briefings, shuttle departures and hoopla will be at the venue. BUT there is a catch!

EVERYONE must pay the accommodation charge as part of registration.  But it’s only $90 and if you can afford a Lakeside book-a-bach that’s water off a whio’s back for you!

 Can I sleep in my tent / van?

There is limited scope for tenting and campervans but the accommodation rate remains the same as you will be using the facilities.

Can I bring the family?

Of course!  There’s lots of things in the area to entertain people of all ages. Walking, mountain biking, etc etc…  If you want to have your family on the river, then you’ll need to ensure they have sufficient skills and safety gear.  The normal minimum age for solo paddlers on a PRANZ trip is 12 years; but that would be under direct supervision of guardians and subject to demonstrating sufficient water safety skills. Chat to us before hand if you’ve got more questions about paddling with kids;  We know a few people who have done plenty and can get you in touch!

Can I rent gear for the meetup?

There are a few places where you can rent packrafts and some accessories;  check out the Commercial Hire/Sales section of this website.

Blue Duck Packrafting will be sponsoring a boat safety session and will have display boats and rentals available – but contact them in advance for hire information.

 Do I need a wetsuit/drysuit?

You will need a wetsuit at least.  Dry suits are just toasty, but not essential for most of the trips we’ll be doing.


We haven’t got everything organised yet, so we won’t know all the answers!

If you’ve got a burning question that isn’t answered here and you need to know soon, pop a question up on the 2021 event page on Facebook.