The New Zealand Kayak School is run by Mick Hopkinson and Pam Weiss.
Mick is originally from Britain where he raced kayak slalom for ten years before putting his energies into exploratory boating. Mick was a member of a small team that made first descents of the river Inn in Switzerland and Austria, the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and the Dudh Khosi in Nepal. He was also a member of the Karakorum Kayak expedition, The Karnali expedition and the "Taming the Lion" team which made the first descent of many of the huge rapids on the river Indus in Baltistan. In August 2008 he was inducted into the International White Water Hall of Fame in recognition of his exploits. But don't worry he was released in time for the start of the next season!
More recently he has been getting his thrills watching Liam paddling the big rapids on the Colorado and racing on the North Fork of the Payette.
Pam is a native of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and for many years was a member of the US Cross country and Biathlon ski team. When she retired from competition she took up kayaking and climbing as therapy and has paddled the Grand Canyon, much to her satisfaction. Pam is the CFO, the brain of the Kayak School and in charge of Mountain bike purchases.
Liam our son. He is now bigger than his mum and dad and is studying, we hope, at Massey University in Wellington. He has cleverly sidestepped "boatslavedom" by taking a holiday job as a sea kayak guide in Antarctica.
New Zealand has a professional instructors association... The New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association. This governing body sets very high standards and all our staff hold NZOIA kayak instructor awards. Mick, Peter Kettering and Daan Jimminck have worked as national assessors for NZOIA. Mick and Pete both commute to the USA each year - Mick to Wyoming, and Peter to California, where he works for Otterbar Lodge and Tarkio Kayak School out of Missoula, Montana. Both Mick and Peter are ACA (American Canoe Association) Qualified. Peter spends most of his time in Hokitika but we occasionally get the pleasure of his company for short stints.
Ben Jackson is no longer the team youth and Rodeo head. He is a Kayak Two and has a degree in Outdoor Education. Living the trans-Pacific trans Atlantic lifestyle between NZ the USA and Denmark, he is sponsoring several airline companies! He has also paddled in Uganda and the Indian Himalayas. Recently he has begun to explore ‘other’ aspects of kayaking in the Arctic and the Antarctic and is currently an Antarctic Cruise Ship Expedition Leader, accompanied by his beloved Pernille who is still trying to teach him Danish.
Daan Jimmink is back for his eighth season at the kayakschool. He has been spending his New Zealand winters in the Northern Hemisphere paddling in the USA, Iceland and Norway. Daan is an NZOIA Kayak two and an Assessor. He is our Senior Instructor and Multi Day Class 5 Trip Guru. Daan makes sure our Rescue Courses are state of the Art!
Jess Matheson, not the old Jess, but the new Jess on the scene… Back for her eighth season at the Kayak School, Jess spends her time chasing summers. She mixes paddling and teaching kayaking in the USA and New Zealand. Jess’s background in Outdoor Education began at Aoraki Polytechnic and working at The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre. She has been paddling for fifteen years and holds NZOIA Kayak Two, making her one of an elite group of six women who hold this award. Daan and Jess publish an online whitewater magazine: "Dreaming of Whitewater". Jess has just returned from running an instructor training programme in Nepal, another country she has added to her international list.
Sophia Mulder is back for her eighth season at the kayak school. She had been enjoying the back to back summer lifestyle, splitting her time between New Zealand and another kayak instruction position in North Carolina until she took up deer farming as a winter activity in Murchison. Soph has completed a degree in Outdoor Education and Adventure Recreation at Christchurch Polytechnic and is also holds the NZOIA Kayak Two award. A member of the magnificent six! She recently partnered Jess on our Nepalese venture and is one of the anchorwomen of the Bullerfest.
Sam Dowd our boatslave is coming back for a second season, a glutton for punishment. He has quit winter cave guiding, has seen the light, and is spending the off season in California. Sam is working his way, slowly, towards his Kayak one and we have the gold watch ready.
Caitlyn Foran is joining us from Auckland. Caitlyn has a degree from AUT and holds NZOIA Kayak one. She is spending the off season in Carolina picking up American culture before moving to the South Island.
Jess Brown has finally “settled down” and now is resident in only one place, Rotorua where she is applying her second degree, in Forestry. But we haven't given up on her yet.
Zak Shaw is working at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. Along with his wife Sal they have built a house and are enjoying their first child, Cooper. If you need info on paddling in the Peruvian Andes, Tibet, Bolivia, India and Africa then its probably not too late, before parental amnesia sets in.
Trying to keep tabs on this motley crew is Janette Kear. Janette lives in Christchurch and takes all our mail and telephone bookings and provides the organization that makes it all happen! Janette's has run both the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the Main Salmon River in Idaho with us and can speak american as a result!