New Zealand’s 9 Best Rafting Spots

New Zealand

Lying in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean is this beautiful island country which has two main regions – the south and north. These locations have an abundance of whitewater rivers which flows from the forest to the sea due to their mountainous terrains. With these attributes, rafting is at its best in New Zealand, featuring grade one up to grade five rivers. These features imply that anyone can enjoy the water-based activity, with the challenging category five rivers or the easy grade one. If you are traveling to the southern part of the island, some beautiful rafting resort towns include the West Coast, Christchurch, or Queenstown while the northern region features Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Lake Taupo, and more. There are several establishments in these regions that provide expert guides, special clothing, and gears to provide you with unforgettable rafting experience. Check out these best locations for rafting in New Zealand.

1. Enjoy a recreational time at Kaituna River and Tutea Falls Whitewater

rafting in new zealand | enjoy a recreational time at kaituna river and tutea falls whitewater

The Kaituna River and Tutea Falls is a famous attraction in Rotorua, a city with cultural experiences, natural scenery, geothermal wonders, and more. This spot is situated only a 25-minute drive from the town and features several areas for a recreational day. Rafting is the primary draw in this location, featuring a category five encounter along the Kaituna River, down to the 23-feet (7-meter) Tutea Falls, the world’s most massive commercial rafted waterfall. Feel an adrenaline rush down 14 challenging and fast rapids. This tour wraps up these activities into a 50-minute experience, providing expert guides and making it suitable for all skill levels.

2. Try black water rafting at Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth

rafting in new zealand | try black water rafting at waitomo caves black labyrinth

Enjoy a thrilling subterranean experience while engaging in a black water rafting at the Waitomo Caves, an underworld of water-filled taverns and caves. It has two options to consider – the Black Abyss and Black Labyrinth, although the latter is more famous. This three-hour tour takes you through the Black Labyrinth, where you will enjoy jumping into cascading waterfalls, admiring the glow worm show above, and the stalagmites and stalactites that adorn the walls of the cave. Bagels and hot soup are provided after the tour to compliment the experience.

3. Brave the challenging rapids of Rangitaiki

rafting in new zealand | brave the challenging rapids of rangitaiki

Enjoy a half-day trip of the Rangitaiki, which consists of constant and challenging grade three to four whitewater. This exciting adventure begins at the river banks with rapids – including the Tautika, Pop up, Fantail Falls, and Geoff’s Joy, and passes through native bushes and NZ scenery. The middle of the river is calm which makes it perfect for a swim and then the rafting experience is capped off by fun rapids till the end. You don’t have to be an expert in rafting, as guides and training will be provided before the tour.

4. Have fun with the Hobbit Barrel Run rafting tour on the Pelorus River

have fun with the hobbit barrel run rafting tour on the pelorus river

Pelorus River is one of the most beautiful on the island, featuring views of historical relics and a short native bush with beautiful birds. If you are a fan of the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, then it will be more than just a rafting adventure, as it is the filming location of this high-fantasy adventure movie. The adventure begins by paddling down the river, stopping and touring the filming spot, and also includes talks about the mining of gold and milling of the forest in the surroundings.

5. Give long-distance rafting a whirl at Kawarau River

give long-distance rafting a whirl at kawarau river

Enjoy a 5-mile (8-kilometer) rafting adventure down the Kawarau River, or River Anduin as it is called in the award-winning Lord of the Rings movie, on a half-day tour. The experience features grade two to four rapid and sometimes grade two to three, which makes it ideal for first-timers. In-between the rapids is a long stretch of calm waters, where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, take a swim or race the other rafts with your friends. Your experience ends with rafting the three-to-four, 1,312.3-feet (400-meter) Dog Leg, which is the longest commercial rafted rapid on the island.

6. Check out Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Auckland

Vector Wero Whitewater Park | Activities & Tours in Auckland, New Zealand

 Vector Wero Whitewater Park – RCP

This spot is the only human-made rafting site on the list, featuring other water-based activities aside from rafting – including paddle boarding and kayaking. The people of New Zealand love whitewater rafting, so much that they built the Vector Wero Whitewater Park, a world-class facility for visitors and locals to enjoy. For rafting, you can choose either the grade three-to-four River Rush, for experts, or the grade one-to-two Tamariki River, for beginners or recreation. You can add some adrenaline pump to the experience by sliding down the 14.8-feet (4.5-meter) Pump Waterfall, the most massive artificial fall in the world.

7. Try the thrills of the Mohaka River Gorge

Mohaka Rafting | Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre

The Mohaka River is North Island’s best-kept secret in whitewater rafting and it is situated in the east-central part of Hawke’s Bay. Mohaka, which means “place of dancing” in the Maori language, is reflected in the much fun the area provides. You can enjoy full-day or multi-day rafting the grade two to five rapids of the river. One other major draw is grade-four-to-five “the Big One,” which takes you through the North Island’s massive unspoiled gorges and canyons. You can also add cliff jumping to the experience.

8. Enjoy a premium rafting experience at Landsborough River

Rafting the Landsborough River - one of New Zealand's greatest adventures -  Young Adventuress

If you are a rafting enthusiast and you find yourself in Queenstown, then you should consider the premium Queenstown rafting experience on the Landsborough River. The three-day experience includes rafting on grade three to four rapids through wildlife, hanging glaciers, and deep rainforests. This exclusive tour also includes helicopter transfers to and from the adventure spot, full rafting gears and clothing, three-course meals, and a selection of beers and wines.

9. Experience rafting and an educational tour at Tongariro River

experience rafting and an educational tour at tongariro river

Join this exciting tour for a premium rafting experience, culture, and education. You will love the rare wildlife, crystal-clear waters, and scenery that characterize the Tongariro River which runs down a volcanic gorge. It’s a half-day experience that involves rafting through 60 free-flowing 8-mile (14-kilometer) rapids. There are exciting stories attached to each of these rapids and hearing them will be one of your guide’s priorities. You may decide to cliff-jump if you are confident or if the weather permits. There are extra benefits attached to this exclusive tour – including on-river snacks and hot dogs and drinks after the adventure.