Rotorua's Jarra Tepania said he was warned about missing out on a New Year's break.
The father-of-three entered his children into the sport of waka ama two years ago, and has since spent New Year's down at Lake Okareka watching his children prepare for nationals.
"There are no breaks for waka ama," he said with a laugh. "They have to practise."
He said the nationals were held in mid January each year so the children were out training most days during the New Year period.
"But that's cool, it gets them outside. It means they aren't stuck inside all day, especially on nice days like this," he said.
Each day the family spends between three to four hours at the lake, with the children going for a paddle while the parents support them and mingle.
"Anything to do with water they love it. Two of the children are into it at the moment.
"The youngest one is dying to get into it as well, but he is a bit too young."
Mr Tepania said it was a good way to take advantage of the lakes, and he would occasionally enjoy a paddle himself during the club's open days.
Mr Tepania's daughter Kiri Tepania, 10, said her favourite part of the sport was just having fun in the water.
She will compete in both the singles and team events at the 2013 New Zealand Post Waka Ama Sprint Nationals this month, at age group level.
Her brother Awhio Tepania, 6, will also feature at nationals in the midgets class, for young paddlers up to the age of 10.
Te Au Rere Waka Ama Club chairman Raymond Poasa said the club was very family-oriented and it currently had about 40 children involved.
He said when the children weren't in the water they were playing together and mingling.
The club holds open days during the first Sunday of each month from 10am to noon, starting in February. It meets at Boyes Beach, Lake Okareka.