The first proper gathering of packrafters in NZ was held in Murchison in January 2016. The was a grand total of 18 pack rafters from all over NZ and a further 12 international visitors. We had so much fun that the following year another meetup was held at Boyle Village in Lewis Pass. The number of packrafts in NZ was growing and there was a great turnout. It was at this meetup that a few of the packrafters started seriously discussing establishing some sort of organisation. We recognised that the sport had loads of potential and was growing rapidly. There was now a growing number of people who were coming into packrafting without having a white water background, instead, the sport was attracting trampers and other backcountry users who saw the potential.

By the time the third Meetup happened in Te Anau in 2018 there was a clear push to establish an organisation that could represent packrafters and packrafting. A group of keen paddlers got togeather and with the support of FMC and White Water NZ they formed a not for profit Incorporated Society – The Packrafting Association of New Zealand (PRANZ) in September 2018.

Our mission is to promote, develop, and foster the sport of packrafting in New Zealand

Since our inception, we have been working towards increasing the skill level and safety of packrafters. We are witnessing a huge growth in the sport and we are seeing it spread into every corner of NZ. There are now several established commercial operators offering both day and multi-day trips as well as skills courses and raft rentals. Packrafting is no longer a fringe sport that nobody has ever heard of, it has been popularised by its ease of accessibility and relatively low skill level required to start out in the sport. It is not uncommon in some areas of NZ to see “packrafting” as one of the main reasons people visit a DOC hut.

At the same time as the sport has been growing Packrafts themselves have changed. They have morphed from the old style, double-ended bucket boat, to a range of high tech, high-performance craft that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and technical specifications. Packrafters are becoming more aware of the challenges and dangers faced in the white water environment and have been upskilling and sharing that knowledge.

PRANZ remains committed to the packrafting community of NZ and we aim to assist in the growth and development of the sport as well as advocating on behalf of the packrafting community, promoting safety and facilitating both regional events and our annual meetup.   

It has been great to see packrafts being used in some of the following ways

  • School Outdoor Education trips
  • Department of Conservation and Regional Councils
  • Adventure races
  • Trapping and other Conservation projects
  • Fly Fisherman and Hunters
  • Tramping Club Trips

PRANZ is a volunteer association and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does not apply to it or its activities. The activities conducted by PRANZ may be hazardous and members may be seriously injured or killed.  Participation in any activity is voluntary at the participant’s own risk.  All members agree to participate in the activity in a manner that does not endanger themselves or others.  All members agree to follow any reasonable instructions given by PRANZ or an activity organiser.  All members agree to hold blameless the event organisers, PRANZ, its executive, and its members for any loss, or damage, caused by negligence, act, or omission whether consequential or indirect, as a result of participation in any PRANZ activity.