Frequently Asked Questions

L1 & L2 Instructor Courses

General Questions

Yes, absolutely. However, you have to complete and pass the L1 practical assessment before you can complete your L2 course. If you are doing the L2 course with assessment, where possible we will attempt to schedule your assessments for consecutive days, so that you can take L2 the day after completing L1, if you wish.

If you are doing a course with a practical assessment, you must complete all the online lessons before taking the practical assessment.  If you wanted to put your head down and plough through all the online lessons as fast as possible, you could complete any of these courses in a day or two. However, assessments can take a while to organise as we need several people to be ready for an assessment in order to run one, so we can’t guarantee that we will be able to get you an assessment immediately.  Realistically, one should probably allow at least a month from starting the course to taking the practical assessment.  This is why we have the option of the online-only courses .

The courses are not NQZA recognised. The costs and administrative hassle to  bring courses into the NZQA system are extremely high, and it wouldn’t actually make any difference overall anyway. There is no legal requirement to have an NZQA-recognised SUP Instructor qualification to operate as a SUP instructor in NZ.  However, if you operate as an instructor and something goes wrong because you’re lacking the appropriate knowledge, then you’d be negligent, and prosecutions would surely follow.

Our instructor courses are designed to give people the knowledge they need, and give a framework for delivering lessons based on what is considered best practice.  So it’s not structured or marked like an NZQA qualification, etc, it’s meant more to be a resource and foundation.

There are myriad different SUP instructor qualifications out there,  and unfortunately there is no standardisation or comparative system between them, in the way that there is for snowboarding qualifications, and some other sports. 

From our own experience of other qualifications, along with the feedback we’ve had from people who have done other courses first then taken this one, the NZSUP courses are  extremely comprehensive, more so than most other qualifications, particularly on the procedural side of things.  Very few courses offer practical paddleboard skills training as part of the deal. Some courses include other skills such as powerboat driving, even jetski rescues, and of course some overseas courses have to operate in a different local legislative environment, which can change things slightly. However, in general we feel confident in saying that this course will set you up well to become a SUP instructor, and the skills you learn here will be transferrable to pretty much any other location. 

 What tends to happen when someone who has learned their skills from one of these courses  goes overseas and applies to work at a SUP school, they usually just get asked what their training covered. An employer can tell very quickly whether someone is competent! They then may have to do some local training to get up to speed if there are specific laws/processes in that location.   

You should probably ask the question the other way around; how come instructor courses are so expensive! Normally because they’re from profit-making organisations, and/or a lot of ticket-clipping going on from the international organisation behind the courses. 

Our view is that it should be as affordable as possible to get proper training on how to teach SUP properly and safely. We’d offer the courses for free if we could, but an online learning platform like this has a lot of overheads and annual costs that we have to pay for somehow. But hopefully you will agree that the fees we charge are extremely reasonable in return for 10-12 hours of online learning education that you can revisit and retake as many times as you want. 

If you are already a qualified SUP instructor then you can convert to the NZ way of doing things with the following courses. Convert your L1 qualification online here and your L2 qualification online here.

The conversion courses are to ensure that you are up to speed with the NZ legislative environment for SUP, and the NZ way of doing things – important if you intend to work at an existing NZ SUP school or business.

This is true, quite a lot of other organisations insist on seeing a logbook (or similar) showing that you have completed a number of lessons at a school as a trainee/apprentice  instructor, before they will issue your full qualifications. There is merit in this, but it’s also completely open to fraud. More importantly, it’s often a major problem for the person who is the sole instructor in their area.  

Our instructor courses are about equipping the person with the knowledge they need. Nobody becomes a perfect instructor the day they qualify. It’s just the start of the journey.  The difference between our online courses and most others is that you can come back to all the information here any time after you’ve passed.  It’s not just a few pages of written notes stuffed in a drawer. 

This can be arranged, contact us to discuss what you need.

You don’t pay for the practical assessment until you’re ready to take it.  If you decide not to take the practical assessment, you cannot request a refund on the online learning section of the course. 

If, after booking and paying for the practical assessment, you choose not to take it, refunds will depend on the circumstances. If you pulling out of the practical assessment means having to cancel it for others because now there are not enough people to make it happen, then there will be no refund. If someone else can take your place, a refund will be no problem. 

The Courses

The online sessions all need to be completed before the practical session and assessment is taken.  If you wanted to put your head down and plough through all the online material as fast as possible, you could do it in a couple of days. However, we need several people to be ready for an assessment in order to run one, so we can’t guarantee that we will be able to get you an assessment immediately.  Realistically, one should probably allow at least a month from starting the course to taking the practical assessment.

You can do as many as you like, whenever you like, at whatever pace you fancy. 

Absolutely. You can repeat them as many times as you like.

If you reckon you know everything already then good for you, but it may mean you end up failing the assessment if your knowledge isn’t quite as comprehensive as you thought it was! Plus which, an important element of the qualifications is about standardisation. Successfully completing the course is an indication that you have specific skills and understanding in terms of terminology, correct sequence of doing things, etc etc, and anyone employing you knows what they are getting.  

You aren’t forced to work through all the modules – just as if you were to attend a classroom course there’s no way anyone can force you to absorb all the information you’re given. However, the important point here is that this is a professional course.  It’s about giving you the information you NEED in order to be safe and professional in your work.  Do you really want to take short cuts on that?

Great stuff, please let us know! We will very much appreciate your input, and if we’ve made a mistake then we’ll be quick to update our teachings. We are all learning all the time, and are always happy to discover new thinking and better ways of doing things

This can be arranged, contact us to discuss what you need.

We will be in individual contact with you throughout the course. You can contact us any time with questions if you want, by phone, Zoom, email, whatever works for you.  

The Practical Assessment

Yes. You will have  ‘homework’ or preparation, for you to bring to the practical assessment.  These are set in the various lessons throughout the course.  (Don’t panic, there are only a couple of tasks).

Dates and locations will be based on demand. The aim will be to have assessors at different locations around the country, to reduce the amount of travelling required.

Ideally, we need 4 candidates to run a practical assessment session. You will be practicing on each other, and we need enough candidates in order to actually simulate a lesson!

This may be possible, although bear in mind that some students will also be required for you to demonstrate your instructing skills on, so it can never be just a 1:1 thing. However, if we can make it happen we certainly will.

Entirely up to you. Gear can be provided (usually a small rental fee will apply) or you can bring your own.

You will receive a comprehensive briefing upon registering for the practical/assessment session on exactly what will be happening. Tea/coffee and water is provided, you bring your own lunch, wetsuit if you choose (you WILL get wet!), paddle and board if you want, pen and paper.

This will depend on the circumstances. If pulling out of the practical assessment would mean having to cancel it for others because now there are not enough people to make it happen, then there will be no refund. If someone else can take your place, a refund may be possible.

Paddling Skills

For Level 1 instruction, advanced paddling skills are not required. However, you must be fit enough to paddle continuously for at least one hour, and your paddling ability should at consist of, at very least, the following skills:

  • Ability to paddle at a good pace in the kneeling position;
  • Ability to get to your feet quickly and complete the following, using square stance (ie. one foot either side of handle);
  • Paddle at a good pace using a well developed stroke with;
  • – A clean catch;
  • – A properly developed power phase, with the blade fully immersed & the paddle shaft vertical;
  • – A clean exit;
  • Paddle the board at a good pace in mild-medium choppy conditions;
  • Make forward progress paddling in standing position into a headwind of at least 10km/hr; 
  • Turn the board efficiently in both directions using forward and reverse sweep turns (If you can use other turning techniques then better still. )

To ensure that your paddling is on the right track, we ask you to submit a video showing you:

  1.  paddling L-R past the camera on flat water at a fairly fast pace (not racing, but not dawdling), so your paddle technique can be clearly seen. 
  2. Paddling R-L past the camera in more challenging water conditions (ie not flat. Choppy or bumpy is fine).. 
  3. Demonstrating 180” sweep turns in both directions.  

 This video will be reviewed, and feedback provided for any work-ons required.  

Yes. This is included as part of the course. The practical assessment will almost certainly include some technique tuition as well. 

Pass or Fail?

We are not expecting perfection, and the main aim of the assessment is to assist you on your path. It is very much a learning experience rather than just some sort of long scary test. We absolutely don’t want to fail anyone. 

The assessor(s) are on your side. They will not be silent and passive throughout your assessment; they will offer advice and the occasional prompt. They do not want you to fail.  

The assessors are looking at your overall performance. If  in general you are doing OK, but you get tangled up on something or miss something out or whatever, it’s unlikely to mean failure. The assessor will have a chat with you afterwards about what happened, and if they’re satisfied that you know why it went wrong and what you should have done, etc, then all should be fine. 

Safety Issues

The main reason for failing is simply because of safety issues. If the assessors consider that you would pose a safety risk to your clients (which may be for reasons of skill, knowledge or communication ability), then it will not be appropriate to say you are ready to be a paddleboard instructor. 


Paddling Ability

If your paddling ability is clearly not up to the job, then you are not ready to be an instructor.  There would be major safety implications in allowing you to teach people to paddle, if your paddling ability was not of a standard where you could cope with a change of wind/water conditions, for example, or keep up with faster student paddlers. 


Communications Skills
If you’re not able to communicate properly with your clients –  which might be simply because you speak too quietly so that they can’t hear you – then there will be major safety implications. If you are not able to maintain control of your group, or very easily get stressed out when anything goes slightly wrong, these would also be causes for concern. 


Not following the lesson format properly

You will be expected to deliver the beginner lesson as set out in Lesson 22.  This is considered best practice for delivering a beginner lesson.  If you deviate significantly from this process, then you will fail the assessment. This will be of particular relevance if you have already been instructing SUP for a while, maybe with another qualification, and thus you already have your own idea as to how it should be taught. However, for this course you need to demonstrate that you can do it the NZ SUP way.  This is what you will be expected to do if you work at pretty much any NZ SUP school; it is a proven and reliable format.  If you choose to revert to another way after passing the assessment then that is up to you, but for the assessment we want to see you do it as has been set out in the online lessons.


This is not to say that we consider the NZSUP way of doing things to be perfect. Indeed quite the contrary, it has been arrived at through a process of constant modification and refinement, and will undoubtedly continue to evolve. So if you do have strong views that there are better ways to present a beginner lesson then we’d love to hear them! . However, because of the standardisation requirement with other NZ SUP schools, for now we want you to present your lesson at the assessment following the format detailed in the course.

You will be given a written report on what needs to change in order to pass a future assessment. It’s like a driving test – you can book another assessment at any time, and you can take as many assessments as is required to achieve a pass.  However, you will be required to pay the fee for each subsequent assessment.

Online-Only Courses

Just like any other course, except it’s all done via this website! You work through the lessons online, you get given assignments and tasks, and you submit those. We will assess them, and come back to you with comments, and possibly require you to have another stab at it if you’re a long way off the mark.

Once you’ve completed all the lessons, passed the final exam and satisfactorily completed all your assessments, you have completed the course!

The main reason is simply convenience for you.  Travelling to a venue for a course or assessment can be time consuming and expensive, plus of course, there’s the whole scheduling issue anyway.  Trying to find a time that suits everyody can be extremely hard.

Whereas being able to do the whole course at your own pace, where, now and when it suits you, makes it all a whole lot more accessible.

This is a common question.  Surely anyone can cheat their way through an online course; they can just look up the answers, mark lessons as read even though they haven’t done them, etc. ..

Actually, exactly the same can be said about ‘real’ classroom courses. It’s even easier to sit at the back and keep your head down, and do the barest minimum to get your certificate at the end of the two days. 

Whereas with the assignments we set in the online-only courses here, there is no hiding place! Everyone has to show what they’ve got, and that they’ve been paying attention. So, yes, they are an entirely valid way to learn how to instruct paddleboarding.


Definitely not. Do not assume for a moment that it’s the soft option! It’s actually quite the opposite. You can’t hide behind others, you can’t wait for someone else to pipe up with the answers, you have to do all the thinking yourself. 

The assignments are quite challenging – they will make you think! They will also require a bit of sorting out. But they will definitely help you become a better instructor. 

Yes, you will need access to a board and a paddle to complete the assignments. You’ll also need to find someone else with a board and paddle, because you’re going to need to demonstrate teaching them. And you’ll need someone else to film it.  

Well actually, it should be more expensive! With the usual practical assessment process, one assessor can comfortably process 3-4 people in a session.  Whereas doing it this way can take the same amount of time per person. But we can offset that against the fact that for our team too, it’s more convenient to be able to carry out the assessments remotely, which is why we can keep the price so low.

The assignment process goes like this.

  • Once we have received your assignment, we will review it.

  • We will respond by email with a debrief of the assignment.

  • If the assignment is satisfactory, it will be marked as completed.

  • If it is not satisfactory, the reasons will be given in the debrief, and you will be invited to have another go at it.

  • Once we have received your second attempt at the assignment, we will review it and debrief it.

  • If the assignment is satisfactory, it will be marked as completed.

  • If the assignment is still not satisfactory, the process will repeat. You can take as many attempts as you need to complete the assignment, and each time we will give you feedback, and if it is still not satisfactory, a full debrief on what needs to be done to reach the standard required. However, there will be an additional $50 charge for each review, after the first two, to cover the reviewer’s time. This fee will need to be paid before any further assignments can be marked. Realistically though, multiple failing is an unlikely scenario. You may not get the assignment right first time, but with the feedback you then receive there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to nail it second go.

No, as we will have spent a lot of time in trying to assist you to complete the course.  

Hopefully the information here is of use.

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.