Thrilling New Zealand: White Water Rafting

  • Written by News Feature Team

There are some very specific reasons why New Zealand is known as the white water rafting capital of the world. This island is relatively young, which means the tectonic forces are more active than in most other parts of the world. This causes mountain ranges to form and the rainfall from these ranges makes for some of the very best white water rafting to be found anywhere on the planet. Anyone with an interest in white water rafting will be in heaven in New Zealand, and each year thousands of rafting enthusiasts take to the road in search of the best spots. If you’re looking to follow in this tradition, then get yourself a campervan hire and make sure to hit up the following rafting hotspots.


The Wairoa

If it’s picture perfect rapids you are looking for, then you can’t go wrong at The Wairoa. This very accessible spot has been attracting white water lovers for decades and it won’t take you very long to see why. This is the true definition of white water rapids, featuring a thrilling ride with many boulders, twists and turns, and even a couple of drops that will really get your blood pumping. Even better is the fact that you can start again when finished and retake the course several times in a day if you wish. One thing to keep in mind when planning your trip is that this amazing spot is only running around one month out of the year, so make sure you time your journey correctly if you wish to hit Wairoa.

The Shotover

No white water rafting trip to New Zealand is complete without hitting up the Shotover. This unique spot has been a must-do for rafters for many generations. Located just outside of Queenstown, the drive here is truly spectacular. The descent into Skippers Canyon in your campervan hire will be a sight you will not soon forget, and once you see the white water route winding through the base of the canyon you will know that the trip was worth it. They call it the shotover because you will literally feel as if you are being shot through the canyon when on the route. This site is running all year, so make sure to keep this unique destination on your list.

The Mohaka


Although accessibility is an issue when it comes to the Mohaka, making the trek is entirely worth it. First of all, the lack of accessibility adds to the experience since there are less fellow rafters on the waters. On some days you may even have the river entirely to yourself. Second, this is an incredibly diverse and scenic route. There are many different styles of rapids along the way, from low rolls to furious rages, plus amazing woodland scenery on all sides. The spring is the best time to hit up The Mohaka, so if you’re setting off during this season then it is recommended you make the trek.


The Rangitata


This is one of the most scenic routes in New Zealand, and this is definitely saying something considering all of the scenic options on offer. Located right on the Southern Alps, this route also has the unique feature of a bedrock base that runs for much of the length, making for a singular white water rafting experience. The river starts out rather easy, then moves through some of the most exciting stretches of rafting you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing. If it’s diversity and scenic wonder you are looking for, then you can’t go wrong on The Rangitata.


The Rangitikei


It won’t take you long to see why this river is world famous. Staring off nice and easy with some Grade 2 and 3 rapids, at the halfway point you will hit the real action with a dozen sets of rapids right in a row. Lined up like a staircase, you will hit steep rapids followed by pools followed by more steep rapids in an amazing succession of white water heaven. There is a reason this stretch is consistently listed as one of the top 5 white water spots in the world, and you certainly won’t question it once you get out on the waters.


Although the Rangitikei does attract a number of visitors due to its famous stature, this is generally not an issue since it is a long route and traffic doesn’t become too congested on even the busiest days.


New Zealand is white water rafting heaven, so if you want to plan the ultimate rafting trip then this would be your ultimate destination. There is nothing quite like loading up your campervan hire and hitting a list of the world’s top white water rafting destinations on one trip. This is an experience you won’t soon forget, so make sure to take advantage of this wondrous possibility as soon as you can.

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