L1 Instructor Course

Safety Briefing (L1 renewal)

Essential! You will be required to submit a video of yourself delivering a safety briefing as part of this renewal process, so you definitely need to complete this lesson.

This lesson looks at the safety briefing(s) that must take place at the start of every session. This is an absolutely essential part of the process, and it’s important that the right things get said. The changes to the safety environment following the implementation of the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) have also added a few extra requirements to include in the briefing, since your last SUP instructor course.   This lesson will take around 30 minutes to complete, plus the time it takes for you to practice and record yourself delivering a safety briefing.

The training video discusses: 

  • Why we do the briefing
  • The various topics that should be covered
  • Briefing the other instructors and/or staff members. 
  • Practicing your briefing

You will be required to submit a video of you delivering a safety briefing, in order to complete this assessment.  Download this template card and practice doing it – you can make it relevant to your own venue.  You may use the card as a prompt when delivering the briefing on your video (indeed, we highly recommend using prompts when delivering any safety briefings, no matter how well practiced you may be!).  

Here is a recording of a full safety briefing for you to listen to. It’s about 5 minutes long in total – 5 very valuable minutes that sets up your lesson and ensures the best possible safety outcomes for your clients. (Plus removing any embarrassment caused by clients losing hats, sunglasses or inadvertantly taking their carkeys onto the water!).

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you get things in the wrong order. All that matters is that you cover everything that needs to be said.


Submitting your safety briefing

  • The video should clearly show your face and upper body (so that your hands can be seen)
  • The audio must be of sufficient quality to be easy to listen to.
  • Video from mobile phone is absolutely fine, this does not need to be a professional studio project!
  • The video does not necessarily need to be shot at a paddleboarding venue, but it will add authenticity.
  • The safety briefing can be based on your own local vanue and conditions.
  • The briefing MUST follow the general format detailed here. Failure to include any of the important material outlined in this lesson will constitute a fail.
  • It is permissible to use the prompt card.

Submitting your video

Once you’ve made your video please send it to us by any of the following methods:

Email (if the file is of a sensible size to send this way) to supinstructorsnz@gmail.com

Dropbox (send us the link)

Wetransfer or any other file sharing system

Post it on youtube (or similar) and send us the link

This does’t have to be done right now, but must be completed before your renewal can be issued.

Safety Planning (L1 renewal)

Optional: Proper planning procedures remain an absolutely vital part of safety management. There is more detail in this lesson than was covered in the 2 day courses, so it would be good revision to work through the lesson.

Check your knowledge!

  • Do you understand why prior planning for organised paddleboarding activities is so vitally important?
  • Do you understand the general concept and importance of venue analysis, and the sort of things that should be noted?
  • Do you understand the sort of things you should be considering when planning a paddleboarding session?
  • Do you know what to look for on the weather forecast, and why?
  • Do you understand how to prepare when you arrive at the venue?

If you’re unsure on any of these, we strongly recommend you complete this lesson as a refresher on proper planning procedures, which are an absolutely vital part of safety management. The current Health and Safety legislation also increases the importance of getting this part of the process right. However, if you’re completely competent and comfortable in this area, you can move on to the next lesson.


This lesson looks at the planning process for sessions on the water. It will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The video discusses: 

  • Why we do the planning
  • How to do a venue analysis
  • What needs to be done in terms of planning before a session
  • What needs to be done when you arrive at the venue

Using checklists to ensure you have done everything that needs to be done is an extremely sensible approach. Even the most experienced instructor will from time to time forget something if relying purely on memory, and the consequences can range from mild inconvenience to extreme embarrassment!

Comprehensive checklists and processes should be part of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the operation. If you are an employee of an established  SUP Operation they should be able to supply you with checklists.  If you are running your own business, then we strongly recommend you set up your own checklists. Guides and templates for creating documentation including these checklists are available as part of the Paddle Business Set-Up & Management Course.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand why prior planning is important?
  • Do you understand the general concept and importance of Venue Analysis, and the sort of things that should be noted?
  • Do you understand the sort of things you should be considering when planning a session
  • Do you know what to look for on the weather forecast, and why?
  • Do you understand how to prepare when you arrive at the venue?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

Required documentation (L1 renewal)

Important: This lesson looks at the essential documentation for conducting paddleboarding lessons, which are a requirement of the modern Health and Safety environment. If you don’t already have these documents in place then you should definitely work through this lesson.

Check your knowledge:

  • Do you understand what the following documents are, and what their purpose is?
  • SMP
  • SOPs
  • RAMs
  • EAP
  • Do you understand the difference between a Hazard and a Risk, and the significance of each?
  • Do you understand the general process of risk management?

If you’re unsure on any of these, we strongly recommend you work through the following lesson. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.


This lesson looks at the four documents that every commercial SUP operation should have.   It will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The video discusses: 

  • Why we have documentation
  • The Safety Management Plan document (SMS)
  • The Standard Operating Procedures document (SOPs)
  • The Risk Assessment & Management Documentation  (RAMs)
  • The Emergency Action Plan  (EAP)
  • The general principles of good documentation management

As with the legal framework stuff, this may all seem a bit tedious, and far too much hassle for just doing a few simple paddleboard lessons. However, the reality is that good documentation can actually make life much easier, and is also the only way of ensuring best practice from a safety point of view. 

If you are working as an employee of an organisation, they should have these documents available for your use.  If you are running your own business, then you are responsible for creating and managing your own documentation. Guides and templates for creating the necessary documentation are available as part of the Paddle Business Set-Up & Management Course.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand what the following documents are, and what is their purpose?
  • SMP
  • SOPs
  • RAMs
  • EAP
  • Do you understand the difference between a Hazard and a Risk, and the significance of each?
  • Do you understand the general process of risk management?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

The Legislative Framework (L1 renewal)

Essential! This is a vital section of the course – very much for your own protection and understanding of your responsibilities under NZ law. The recent change to Health and Safety legislation in New Zealand has been a game changer for SUP instruction. It’s essential that you are up to date with the legal implications of working as a SUP instructor.

Check your knowledge:

  • Do you understand what a PCBU is?
  • Do you understand what duty of care is?
  • Can you recall the four areas of duty of care that you have to your clients?
  • Do you understand what constitutes negligence?
  • Do you understand why you really don’t want to be found to be negligent?!
  • Do you understand the difference between a volunteer and volunteer worker?

There will be questions on these topics in the self-assessment test you are required to pass at the end of this online course. If you’re unsure about any of the material here, you should work through this lesson, which will take around 15 minutes to complete. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.


When you take payment from clients – whether it’s for a lesson, tour or guided experience – you have created a workplace and you become subject to Health and Safety legislation.  You have legal responsibilities to your clients, other team members working with you, and anyone else that may be impacted by your work. 

This training video discusses:

  • Health and Safety Law
  • Understanding your working area & safety responsibilities
  • The legal concepts of Duty of Care and Negligence
  • How the legal framework changes for volunteer rather than paid instruction
  • Other legislation that may apply during your lessons

This may seem like tedious stuff, but it is really important that you fully understand your legal requirements and responsibilities. If something does go wrong,  ignorance of the law is never going to be an acceptable defence, indeed it’s actually more likely to make things worse.

Note:  If you are working as an employee of an organisation, then it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that you are complying with legal requirements.  However, you also have a responsibility as an employee to comply. 

If you are running your own business, then you are responsible for creating and managing your own health and safety policies. More information on this is available in the Paddle Business Set-Up & Management Course.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand what a PCBU is?
  • Do you understand what duty of care is?
  • Can you recall the four areas of duty of care that you have to your clients?
  • Do you understand what constitutes negligence?
  • Do you understand why you really don’t want to be found to be negligent?!
  • Do you understand the difference between a volunteer and volunteer worker?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

The L1 SUP Instructor renewal process

This course is for you if you have already completed your L1 instructor training in New Zealand (by doing a SurfingNZ/ISA/NZSUP instructor course in the last 5 years), and you are now wanting to renew your qualification. If you have a SUP Instructor qualification from outside of NZ and are looking to convert to the NZ system then please go to the conversion course.

The renewal process requires working through this online course. It will take a few hours, but you can do it in your own time from the comfort of your own home, and it will be less hassle and more efficient than having to attend a one day course in person. Especially as by doing it this way, you can choose which areas you want to revise and focus on.

At the beginning of each lesson are some questions to help you self-assess your current level of knowledge and understanding of the material. If you are unsure about anything mentioned there we strongly recommend working through the online lesson to refresh your knowledge. Treat it as a refresher course – professional development.

Remember – the onus is on you as the professional instructor to know what you need to know. If something goes wrong, ignorance is never an excuse. The self-assessment tests at the end of the course will also give you a good indication as to whether you need to refresh on any areas.

Once you have completed this course you are welcome to return to it at any time to refresh your knowledge again, should you wish.

The renewal process can be completed fully via this online course, there is no requirement to demonstrate your instructional skills in person. However:

  • You will be required to answer a couple of questions online as you proceed through the course, which will be assessed by us.
  • So that we can be sure you are still a functional and capable human being, we will ask you to record and send us a video of you delivering a (simulated) safety briefing, as per the lesson in this course.
  • You will need to upload a current profile picture of yourself, and a short resume of your instructional career over the last few seasons.
  • You will need to upload a certificate or proof of your current first aid qualification.

Renewing will revalidate your instructor qualification for a further 24 months, and give you access to the instructor material and information on this website, which you can revisit at any time

As you’re renewing, you probably already have or are part of a SUP school or business. However, if you are renewing in order to start a new business or project, then do be aware that there is a whole lot of other information that you’re going to need regarding your responsibilities and legal requirements, creating your documentation, equipment choices, etc etc. The information you will need can all be found in the SUP Business course available here.


Any questions at any time, feel free to contact us.

We hope you enjoy the course.

First Aid Qualification

It is a requirement of your qualification that you have a current First Aid certificate – at very least the Essentials/Workplace qualification, NZQA unit standards 6401 & 6402. (Usually a one day course) We recommend taking it to the next level and also covering NZQA unit standard 6400, the Comprehensive first aid qualification. (Usually a 2 day course, to do all three unit standards).

First aid courses are available from many agencies in New Zealand, including:

St John
Red Cross

and many others.

Please upload a copy of your first aid certificate here, either in PDF or JPG format.

The role of the instructor

Importance: Medium. If you are an instructor of other outdoor activities and/or work in the education sector, you will be well aware that there is far more to instructing than simply telling people how to do stuff.  You’ll already be familiar with much of the information in this lesson, but it’s only a short one so there’s probably no harm in viewing it anyway. 

This lesson is about you!  A summary of what will be required of you, if you’re going to succeed as an instructor. Being a good instructor involves a number of skill-sets, and it’s important to appreciate this right from the start.  It’s certainly not about being the best paddler – indeed quite often the best athletes make very poor instructors, because they have no empathy or understanding for the challenges that the ‘ordinary person’ faces.

This lesson is a quick summary of what will be required of you, in general terms. You’re going to find all this out for yourself anyway, but you’ll definitely find it worthwhile to have a heads-up as to what you’re getting into, before you start! The lesson will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The requirements of the instructor
  • The obligations of the instructor. 

There will not be any questions in the final test about this material – it is more for your general understanding of the world of SUP instruction. 


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand that there are many different aspects to being a good instructor
  • Do you understand what the essential obligations are?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, congratulations!! You’ve completed the learning phase of the L1 SUP Instructor course. 

Where Next?

Congratulations, you’ve completed the online section of the L1 Instructor Course!  It’s a lot of information, but you’ll continue to have access to it for the duration of your instructor qualification, and you’re welcome to return and review any of the lessons any time.  If you would like to discuss or query any of the material in the course please contact us.

If you feel confident in the material, then please go ahead and complete the two online tests below. The first is multi-choice, and you can view the answers after you have completed it. This is to help you ensure that you have absorbed all the knowledge you need. The second is a written test, which we will grade after you have submitted it.

You MUST complete these two tests in order to finish your qualification process.

Next up, time to be thinking about your final assessment. Here is a quick recap of the ‘homework’ that you have been set during the various lessons.

Lesson 5:  Delivering a safety briefing. 

Have you downloaded and printed out the prompt card and practiced delivering the safety briefing? This will be a requirement at the assessment. 

Lesson 7: Dealing with problems

Have you produced (ie written out) your own GAGA solution to the 3 problem scenarios (4,5 & 6) listed in this lesson? 

Lesson 22: Teaching Beginners

Have you downloaded and printed out the prompt card and practiced delivering the Part B (the onshore section of the session), as detailed in this lesson? This will be a requirement at the assessment. 

Remember too, your paddling ability assessment as discussed in the introductory lesson. Have you submitted the required video of you paddling? If your paddling skills are not up to the required standard you will not pass the assessment. 

So, once you’ve done your homework, you feel confident enough in delivering a safety briefing and the part B section of the lessons, and your paddling is up to scratch, then please go ahead and  contact us to organise your assessment. 

Working with Children

Importance: Depends… If you intend to work with children then the information in this lesson is pretty vital. Not so much if you only ever intend to work with adults.  However, you should still have a basic understanding of the general requirements.

This lesson is about working with young people, which is extremely rewarding and usually great fun, but can most certainly present a whole different array of interesting challenges and issues!    The lesson will take about 25 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The legal & ethical considerations for working with young people
  • Recommended minimum ages
  • General advice on working with youngsters
  • Some of the problems and issues that may arise
  • A quick look at some of the paddleboard-related activities you can consider when working with young people.

This barely scratches the surface of the topic – working with young people can be a whole course in itself. For some SUP instructors it’s their ‘bread and butter’,  others prefer the somewhat quieter and less hectic life of working with adults!

If you require a Police Check certificate please contact us – NZSUP is an authorised Police Check certification source. There will be at $25 administration fee for the service.

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on minimum age recommendations and equipment choices for teaching young people.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the recommendations for minimum ages when teaching young people?
  • Do you understand how you should adapt your instruction to create the right tone and environment for working with young people?
  • Are you comfortable with equipment for instructing young people?
  • Do you have some ideas about what sort of on-water activities you might do with young people?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again.

Otherwise, well done – you’ve completed the Safety and Planning section of the SUP Instructor Level 1 course! If you have any questions or issues about any of the material in this section please don’t hesitate to contact us.

REMINDER: Have you submitted the video of your paddling technique to us yet? Don’t leave this too late, just in case there’s any significant work-ons needed. All the information about what is needed can be found in Lesson 1, the Introduction.

Remember also to print out and practice your safety briefings, as detailed in Lesson 5, and your GAGA responses to the emergencies detailed in Lesson 7.

Group Control

Importance: High. Group control is an essential aspect of your work, both from a safety management and general enjoyment point of view.

This lesson looks at the important skill of maintaining control of your group of clients whilst on the water.    It will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • Recommended group sizes
  • Good practice recommendations for the instructor 
  • The problems with group control that the instructor may encounter 
  • Group dynamics, and how they can impact on a group
  • How do deal with problems that may arise 

Every group of clients is different, no two lessons are ever the same. Learning to manage a group is a skill that comes with practice, but having some ideas in advance on what might go wrong and how best to deal with it will be of great value, particularly for your first few lessons.

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on group sizes and group control techniques.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the various recommended group instructor:client ratios?
  • Do you understand how you can utilise other competent adults in order to increase your group size?
  • Can you recall some of the main issues that the instructor is likely to face in terms of group control?
  • What techniques would you use in order to keep your group together?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.