Where to Go White Water Rafting in New Zealand
Due to its mountainous terrain, New Zealand offers some outstanding white water rivers. This is the most adventurous way to see the dramatic river gorges the country has to offer.
New Zealand, being the adrenaline-fuelled country that it is, obviously boasts some amazing white water rafting. What’s more, anyone can give rafting in New Zealand with the easy grade one rapids to the challenging grade fives. There are plenty of companies that can take backpackers and working holidaymakers on day trips that you will never forget in both the North Island and South Island. All of the rafting trips listed below have their own unique quirks and perks, from maximised fun including cliff jumps and surfing rapids to scenic full-day trips seeing the most spectacular scenery.
If adventure is what you’re looking for in New Zealand then don’t miss white water rafting!
1. Tongariro River
An awesome introduction to white water rafting can be had on the lower Tongariro River – the grade 3 part of the river. Stunning gorges, fun rafting guides and a possibility of seeing the rare blue duck makes for an awesome trip down the Tongariro River. Adrenaline junkies can take trips to more extreme rapids in the upper gorge. Book your trip with Tongariro River Rafting.
Location: Tongariro, North Island
2. Rangitikei River and Ngaruroro River
In a secluded location in the North Island, River Valley Lodge specialises in rafting the Rangitikei and Ngaruroro rivers. The grade 4 and 5 option gives you more time to take in the scenery in between being splashed in the face and surfing rapids. Find out more about rafting with River Valley Lodge on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: River Valley, North Island
3. Shotover River
Challenge Rafting takes you to Skippers Canyon for some grade 3 to 5 rafting. Getting to the launch point is an adventure in itself by taking the gnarly Skippers Road. A highlight is being plunged into darkness in the Oxenbridge Tunnel, as well as many insane grade 3-5 rapids. Book your white water rafting trip with Challenge Rafting on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.
Location: Queenstown, South Island
4. Wairoa River
For the adrenaline junkie, this trip with Rafting New Zealand (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Kaituna Cascades (on Viator and Tripadvisor) takes you on two grade 5 rivers. Plunge down one waterfall and another… and then another! This trip only operates on Sundays.
Location: Tauranga, North Island
5. Rangitata Gorge
Choose from grade 1 to 5 on the raging Rangitata River in the Canterbury region. Rangitata Rafts guarantees grade 5 rapids every day from October to May. The package also includes a food before and after your trip. Find out more about Rangitata Rafts on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Canterbury, South Island
6. The Mohaka River
Somewhere between Napier and Taupo on the Thermal Explorer Highway is the Mohaka River with deep gorges and challenging rapids. Offering different full-day adventures, Mohaka Rafting takes you on river journeys through fossilised canyons and often the chance to spot some wildlife along the way. Mohaka Rafting opens for spring, summer and autumn. Find out more about Mohaka Rafting on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Hawke’s Bay, North Island
7. Kaituna River
This river in Rotorua has the highest commercially rafted waterfall in New Zealand so expect a fast heart-thumping ride. Would you raft down a 7m (23ft) waterfall?! This rafting experience can be done with River Rats Rafting (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Kaituna Cascades (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) and Kaitiaki Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Rotorua, North Island