It’s called white water for a reason.

If you have never been white water rafting, then you are missing out!

New Zealand is laced with rivers and there are numerous rafting companies that will take you on the ride of your life.

Basically, you are just playing in giant bumper boats with rocks on a fast-flowing river. But anyone who has tried it knows it so much more than just that. It is the whole process; getting ready, pulling on wetsuits and thermals, driving to the river, understanding instructions, practising in the calm water and then just like that you are into it.

New Zealand is renowned for its adventure industry, and rafting has been at the top of the list since the beginning. Because New Zealand is long and narrow, our rivers have a great fall line creating high impact fast-flowing water in stunning settings.

The rivers that are commercially rafted are graded as; ‘1’ being close to being a pond to ‘5’ which feels like a near-death experience, not really, but it’s thrilling. Anything over that is considered too dangerous to raft.

Anyone can pick up a rubber tube and decide to float down a river, but be aware rivers are not like the sea. Rivers are unforgiving, and one cubic meter of water weighs a tonne, so if you get hooked up or pressed into a small space that one tonne of water will be unrelentingly holding you there. That’s why you need to go with a commercial rafting company, and lucky we have some of the best in the world.

Kaituna River

New Zealand boasts the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. Just 20 mins outside of Rotorua, the Kaituna river offers up the Tutea falls. There are a few operators in the area;  River Rats, and Kaituna Cascades are well known. They will take you on a gut-wrenching aquatic roller coaster, for around 50 minutes conquering 14 rapids and finally  plummeting over a 7 meter waterfall. It’s not for the faint-hearted, this is a solid grade 5 river (that is as big as it gets). You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to have the courage to do it. Both companies can arrange for photos to be taken, so no matter how you feel dropping the seven metres remember to smile!

You build up the anticipation of 7-metre drop with a range of rapids and a few smaller waterfalls before facing up to the big one! You know it going to be interesting when everyone is told to get off your seat and get inside the raft, it’s all over pretty quick (if all goes well).  The waterfall flows into a large calm pool where you can look back and be wowed what you just survived. A word to the wise, try to go first if there is more than one raft is going it’s more fun watching others terror as they tumble over the waterfall, it’s a fantastic experience –  (www.kaitunacascades.co.nzwww.riverrats.co.nz )

Tongariro River

Tongariro River Rafting offers a range of packages but the most popular is the half-day experience which will take you down the mighty Tongariro river. You navigate 60 rapids in a 13km stretch, which is the highest concentration of commercial rafted rapids in New Zealand. The trip gives you access to some of the local scenery that you would never be able to see and they also some of the best trout fishing in the country (you can buy fly fishing rafting trips as well). It’s an easy grade 2-3 river, easily accessible and great for families and children. An excellent alternative day if you have gone skiing and the mountain is closed. Tongariro River Rafting is based in Turangi. (www.trr.co.nz )

The Mohaka River

The Mohaka River is one of the most renowned rivers for rafting. Flowing through the Hawke’s Bay, ‘mohaka’ translated means’ place for dancing’, not sure how that applies to rafting the river because it goes from a grade 2-5, and the grade 5 is less about dancing and more about holding on for dear life.

The company  Mohaka Rafting offers several different white-water rafting experiences from Grade 2-5-day trips and multi-day expeditions up to a week.  For the grade 4/5 rafting trips you have to be over 16 and the one-day trips can last for up to 8-9 hours. However, they are not the only company that runs this river and if you ‘google it’ you can find a range of options. There is no expertise required but grade 4/5, but you will be surprised yourself how well you can hang on. www.mohakarafting.com

This is just the tip of the iceberg of rafting in New Zealand, pretty much wherever you go in there is some sort of rafting on offer. From half day river experiences to longer holidays like those offered by  River Valley Lodge on the Rangitikei. At River Valle you can stay for a few days at the lodge and add in horse riding and trout fishing. River Valley also runs raft tours on the Ngaruroro, Whanganui rivers, from family floats to multiday rafting experience it is packaged specifically for you. https://rivervalley.co.nz

On a par with sky diving, grade 5 river rapids give you the exhilaration and feeling that you have escaped death and it will keep you coming back for more. But whatever trip you decide to take you will meet great people, see parts of the county only a few people get to see and have an adrenalin rush that you will remember for a lifetime.

Don’t be tempted to grab a tube and go it alone, invest in a qualified river guiding company who will give you a great experience and bring you home safely.

A good place to start your rafting adventure is here https://www.newzealand.com/nz/rafting

Images and some editorial contributed by clients mentioned


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