KOKATAT Ambassador TEAM MEMBER | Expedition Whitewater

Ari Walker

Age: 28 years old website
HOMETOWN: Golden Bay, New Zealand

Life, I’m in it for a good time not a long time.

Ari Walker’s kayaking career began when he joined the University of Canterbury Canoe Club (UCCC). It was there that he met many of his closest friends with whom he began kayaking all over NZ and the World. Since graduating university in 2012, Ari has dedicated his life to whitewater kayaking and exploration. His expeditions have led to first descents throughout NZ, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Norway, and he’s paddled extensively throughout North America.

His most major achievement to date is finishing university and gaining an honors degree in mechanical engineering. He spends 5 months a year working endless weeks at 12 hours a day as an engineer in Mongolia. The remaining seven months of the year, Ari lives a nomadic and transient lifestyle travelling the globe in search of whitewater.

“It often feels like a major sacrifice to my kayaking career being stuck in Mongolia whilst knowing my friends are away on a mission somewhere else in the world. This is also what drives me to work hard knowing that once I am finished I have 7 months in which I can travel and focus purely on kayaking.”

In both 2013 and 2015 he was a part of an expedition team awarded with the Sport NZ Hillary Expedition Grant, which led them to complete first descents throughout Papua New Guinea and Southern Brazil.

“Papua New Guinea is a raw and wild country. It was a real adventure to just be there and experience the culture, the people and the landscape - without taking kayaking into account. Paddling in such a wild and hostile environment made for an unforgettable adventure!”

Ari occasionally returns home to NZ, which he still considers his favorite kayaking destination. However, it’s never long before he is lured away by the prospect of new overseas expeditions.