It’s called white water for a reason.

Why is white water rafting so much fun?

Basically, you are just playing bumper boats with rocks on a fast-flowing river. But anyone who has tried it knows it so much more than just that. It’s 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 activities, and rafting has been 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 ‘1’ being close to be 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. They 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 we have some of the best in the world.

Kaituna River

New Zealand boasts the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. Just 20mins outside of Rotorua, the Kaituna river offers up the Tutea falls. It is a gut-wrenching roller coaster as you plummet over 7m – It’s not for the faint-hearted, you don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to have the courage to do it. 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 inside the raft, its 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 other crap themselves as they tumble over the waterfall– the whole trip is only about 2 hours, but it’s a fantastic experience –

Tongariro River

Rafting New Zealand is one of the most professional rafting companies in New Zealand and operates extensively on the Tongariro River, which is a grade 3. Nestled in Turangi, next to the climbing wall about 30 mins from Taupo.

It is a half-day experience which will take you down the mighty Tongariro river, the trip gives you access to some of the local scenery that you would never be able to see and also some of the best trout fishing in the country (you can buy fly fishing rafting trips).

Rafting New Zealand is the full package with generations of experience. With everything from a hot drink and chocolates halfway down the river to a beer and hotdog that you get when you get back. It is a great half-day package deal winter or summer, a little chillier in winter. An excellent alternative day if you have gone skiing and the mountain is closed.

The Mohaka River

The Mohaka River is one of the most renowned rivers for rafting. Flowing through the Hawke’s Bay ‘mohaka’ translated mean ‘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. 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.

The Rangitata Gorge

Rafting is not just in the North Island. The Rangitata Gorge is a gorge located in the Canterbury High Country in the South Island of New Zealand. The narrow gorge links the headwaters of the Rangitata River with the fertile Canterbury Plains.

The Rangitata Rafts raft the Rangitata gorge which is a  mix of Grade 2 – 5 rapids – just a few hours’ drive from Christchurch it offers something for everyone. The package is 4 hours on the river with hot showers and a BBQ dinner at the end.

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 amazing holiday locations like River Valley on the Rangitikei where you can stay for a few days and add in horse riding and trout fishing to smaller half-day excursions offered almost anywhere there is a river. On a par with sky diving grade 5 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 some 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.

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