NZKI four Star Sea Kayak Scope

NZKI 4 Star is an open water instructor qualification.

4 Star Profile

A NZKI 4 Star paddler will be able to:

  • Demonstrate competency in advanced kayak paddle strokes and rescues on intermediate water conditions;
  • Eskimo roll a sea kayak in surf conditions;
  • Be proficient surfing a sea kayak;
  • Demonstrate a good general knowledge of kayaks and kayaking;
  • Demonstrate a good knowledge of safety management and weather;
  • Plan and prepare a multi-day sea kayaking trip on open water;
  • Lead and manage groups on a multi-day trip on open water;
  • Instruct students in advanced skills in open water conditions;
  • Instruct students in surfing and surf management;
  • Role model accepted environmental practices and
  • Role model best kayaking skills.

The assessment of the skills for NZKI 4 Star will be carried out in intermediate conditions as follows:

  • Wind 15 to 25 knots;
  • Up to 1.5m swell and
  • Moderate tidal flow.

Instructional Scope

A NZKI 4 Star kayaker will be able to lead and instruct the Canoe and Kayak open water sea kayak courses on intermediate conditions. 


The NZKI 4 Star assessment will be carried out in a single sea kayak as follows:

  • Enclosed cockpit with;
  • Three or more compartments including the cockpit separated by fixed bulkheads.


To be assessed for the NZKI 4 Star award the participant must:

  • No less than 50 current logged kayak trips in a variety of locations, conditions and durations and at least 20 of these trips being in intermediate conditions;
  • Have logged experience of assisting instruction of open water paddle and rescue skills;
  • Hold a NZKI 3 Star kayak award or equivalent;
  • Hold a current outdoor 1st Aid Certificate and
  • Hold a VHF Radio Operators Certificate.


To maintain a NZKI 4 Star qualification the holder must:

  • 1 day of professional development annually;
  • Instructed at least 5 students through the open water sea kayaking courses every 2 years;
  • Completed 20 days of new logged kayak trips annually and
  • Undertaken a peer review session every 2 tears.

Progressing to NZKI 5 Star

To progress to the next levels a 4 Star kayaker will:

  • Complete the Skills Active assessor programme;
  • Have worked in the kayak industry as a senior instructor for no less than 5 years
  • Have a comprehensive log of kayaking experience.





NZKI four Star Assessment Notes

Reference – NZKI Syllabus


The assessment of the skills for NZKI 4 Star will be carried out in intermediate conditions as follows:

  • Wind 15 to 25 knots;
  • Up to 1.5m swell and
  • Moderate tidal flow.

Technical Competencies

Practical assessment

  1. Preparation, Launching and landing.
  2. Forward and reverse paddling.
  3. Forward and reverse static turning. (Sweep Stroke)
  4. Moving sideways. (Draw Stroke, sliding draw)
  5. Stopping.
  6. Turning on the move. (Stern Rudder, Bow Rudder, bow draw, stern draw, sweep stroke)
  7. Supporting. (Low Brace, Sculling support)
  8. Rescuing another paddler in deep water. (T Rescue, Leg over, swimming, stirrup)
  9. Self-rescue in deep water. (Paddle Float, John Wayne, re-entry and roll, release a tow after capsizing and roll up)
  10. Eskimo Rescue.
  11. Eskimo Roll.
  12. Recue another kayaker using a simple tows. (Short or long tow line, contact tow)
  13. Rescue another kayaker who has lost their kayak. (Stern Deck Carry, Bow Carry)
  14. Surfing

Theory (60 minute multi-choice and long answer exam paper)

  1. Kayaking and Kayaks
  2. Weather
  3. Navigation

Role Modelling

  1. Personal risk management
  2. Team work
  3. Awareness of others
  4. Environment

Trip Planning

  1. Location
  2. Weather interpretation
  3. C&K Safety Systems

Group Management and Leadership

  1. Plan and prepare an open water sea kayak course
  2. Lead and manage the planned sea kayak course
  3. Apply effective safety management


  1. Undertake an open water sea kayak skills course

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