Nelson SUP club member Gianna Karkeet is looking forward to Paddlefest. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Paddlefest coming to Nelson waters


Nelson’s tranquil waters are a paddler’s paradise.

From waka ama to kayaking, paddle sports are surging in popularity and the region has become a hotspot.

So, in what is hoped to be the first of many more to come, Nelson will host a paddle sport festival on Labour weekend.

‘Paddlefest’ will get underway on October 26 with hundreds of paddlers expected to descend on Tahunanui Beach.

Nelson stand up paddleboard club president Rod King says Tahunanui is perfect for paddling.

“We get that year-round ability, no wind and a flat sea.”

Nelson has a proud history in paddlesports, with New Zealand SUP beach sprint champion Tara Hope in its ranks.

Rod says the hope is to unite the various paddling disciplines for a weekend of races and events.

“There are a few other groups around, so we want to try get them all together.”

The weekend will feature SUP, surfski, and waka ama relays, long distance and sprint races.

Another highlight will be races for juniors (8 to 11) on inflatable SUP boards through the Maitai River.

Rod says planning for the event started in April.

“It’s amazing how much work has gone in; without our volunteer committee we couldn’t have got it done.

He says Nelson has thrown their support behind the concept.

“We have been promoting it across Wellington and the South Island and have got a heap of local businesses involved.”

Rod says they plan to start small and expand.

“It’s one of those things, we’ve never done it before but are exceeding expectations with interest.”

The hope is locals will turn out in droves once the weather plays its part.

There will be spot prizes for those that take part including leashes, PFDs, paddles and even an inflatable paddleboard.

Paddlers can pay $25 to enter any race or relay during the three-day event.

For an entry form go to

Any businesses wanting to support the festival can email [email protected]