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White Water Rafting

Rafting is one of NZ’s most sought after adrenaline-pumped activities. The journey starts out in complete peace, the raft gliding through the wilderness and then the cruise segues into a wild, wet adventure down raging rapids.

New Zealand’s mountains are a haven for rivers with strong currents that cuts through forests and flows straight to the sea. The rivers that are used for rafting are rated based on the strength of the current and those with the Grade 1 rating provide gentle waters while those rated Grade 5 are considered as the most heart-pumping rides among all.

The trips for this kind of adventure usually last from a couple of hours and some last for 5 days. Participants willing to undergo this are steered by trained rafting guides who meet the terms with customary safety policies. During the trip, you will be provided with specialized clothing and gear for the ride.

North Island has basically rivers in the central and east coast found in places like the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Lake Taupo. The Tongariro River from Lake Taupo has three white water rivers fit for rafting with grades ranging from 2-4. Meanwhile in the South Island, you can experience white water adventures in places like Christchurch, the West Coast and around Queenstown.

Here is a list of white water rafting spots in New Zealand:

  • Rangitikei

White Water Rafting Rangitikei Ngaruroro New ZealandThe Rangitikei is one of NZ’s most famous rivers and it gets the Grade 5 rating from the International Scale of River Difficulty because of the adrenaline rush it brings. Located in the North Island, the river runs from the River Valley Lodge and features a brief 25-minute long ride to the river. It has a length of 11 kms.

The trip begins in a relaxed manner then segues into Grades 2 and 3 rapids prior to the strong rapids that will take your breath away, which is half-way throughout the course of the ride. The Gorge follows, and with this expect to undergo serious action by cruising 10 prime rapids—one moment you’ll be cruising through steep ones then pass by a pool, then get through steep rapids once more.

Rafting on the Rangitikei river can be had all year round.

  • Rangitata

White Water Rafting Rangitikei New ZealandLocated in the Southern Alps, the river has a length of 10 kms and one can try out extreme water journeys from the months of October until May. The trip down by the river begins in a typical serene fashion, with some serious action just waiting in the wings.

Rangitata Rafts offers a family Grade 2 (gentle ride) or a Grade 5 (serious ride) and the river streams throughout some subdivisions of bedrock, in which majority of rapids and inclines are located.

At the end of every rafting trip, all the groups come together to enjoy a typical New Zealand BBQ! Share the stories, photos and exchange your new friends contacts!

The Rangitata is considered as one of the best rafting rivers of New Zealand so if you’re into white water rafting: check the Rangitata out!

  • Mohaka

White Water Rafting Mohaka New ZealandThe Mohaka measures at 14 kms and you can gain access to it from Taupo and Napier Highway. It has a Grade 5 level but you can also opt for the Grade 2/3 rafting. The grades are depending on the flow quality of the river. One can go for a ride on it throughout the year but you can better enjoy the challenges of the river during the summer, spring and autumn months.

It has several rapids with varying styles and a slew of awesome scenery.

What makes this different from other rivers is the hours of journey one has to make in order to reach the river’s location.

  • Shotover

White Water Rafting Shotover Queenstown New ZealandNew Zealand rafting is not complete without including the Shotover on the list. You can access it via Queenstown and the ride has a length of 12.5 kms, with a level that varies from Grade 3 to 5.

You will get propelled down Skipper’s Canyon and you will experience excellent action in the final 1.5 kms of the ride.

Reaching the Oxenbridge Tunnel means you have reached the end of your adventure. You can experience the Shotover fun all year round.

  • Wairoa

White Water Rafting Wairoa New ZealandThe river is located on the North Island between Matamata and Tauranga, at the base of the Kaimai Ranges.

It has a length of 2.7 kms and its grade varies from 4 to 5 and can only be rafted for 26 days a year.

The Wairoa features plenty of excellent rapids that are pretty much accessible and the rides are not only breathtaking but scenic as well.

For these adventures, a minimum age of 13 is required. The tree lined gorge and rock formations are fantastic scenery and together with the exciting waterfalls and rapids makes the Wairoa white water rafting very special.

  • Tongariro

White water rafting Tongariro New ZealandGiven a rating of Grade 3+, the Tongariro has features that makes it a family-friendly ride. Expect striking scenery and loads of fun rapids for you to discover together with your family. The river is located in the Taupo region and is also recommended for senior citizens and children aged 13 years and up.

You will be provided the proper outfit for the ride together with trusted rafting guides/operators and once you are clothed in the correct rafting attire, expect to spend hours on the river just having a good, soaking time. You can experience the ride all year round, every day.

White Water Rafting Facts

White water rafting is an extreme sport which involves participants of the sport paddling and guiding themselves on a raft throughout a river’s rapids or the so-called white water. The sport became more popular when it was included in the Olympic Games during the 70s. These days, millions of folks have experienced this kind of sport. White water rafting is similar to white water kayaking with the difference that in a raft there are multiple people and a kayak is occupied by one person.

People who are after thrill-seeking experiences can get their kicks out of white water rafting. However, before you embark on your first trip, make sure that you select a river that will fit your level. White water rapids are evaluated for its intricacy and it’s classified into 6 levels.

New Zealand has excellent rafting spots, and it complies with the grades given by the International Scale of River Difficulty (wiki). The International Scale of River Difficulty is an American system which grades the difficulty of a rapid or a stretch of river all in all. It was made by the American Whitewater Association (AWA) for the intention of assessing rivers all over the globe.

Kinds of Rapids

  • Class 1

These are rapids that need little steering and are the easiest to cross. Features even, flowing water with little to no waves or barriers.

  • Class 2

A notch more difficult than one, the water from the river might feature medium waves and may need a number of careful steering around barriers.

  • Class 3

Rapids given this grade usually feature uneven waves, speedy currents and constricted passageways, thus careful steering is required.

  • Class 4

Difficult to maneuver rapids which requires focus from advanced-level participants. The rapids include cross-currents, huge waves and quick, blustery waters.

  • Class 5

Tremendously difficult, challenging rapids await advanced-level participants. The river water features strong, formidable currents, cross-currents and blustery rapids.

  • Class 6

These are rivers which are unmanageable or nearly impossible to sail across.

white water rafting New Zealand

White Water Rafting Safety

white water rafting safety gearCommercial rafting companies in New Zealand often feature experts who were trained and comply with safety codes. These pros are there to guarantee that your rafting experience are not only fun but safe. They are trained to rescue, provide first-aid and CPR and majority of these guides are also wilderness specialists.

The guide will give you instructions on ways to stay out of harm’s reach while on the river. He or she will also make certain that you know how to use a paddle. Several guides will be with you in the raft while some will ride beside you in kayaks.

A lot of guided trips can last for about 3 to 4 hours but it can also depend on the adventure package you choose. There are full-day services available and there are also multi-day options for you to choose from.

In the beginning of the trip, you will meet the guide and following that, sign a release form. You will be given a safety talk before going to the boat. Safety gear will be provided to you like vests or flotation devices.

Once you are on the raft, the guide will provide basic paddling methods and some time to practice those techniques prior to a trip down the river. It is crucial to keep in mind that this sport can be fun but it has its dangers too. Before participating, make sure that you are in excellent physical condition.

As for the gear, make sure that you dress properly for this kind of sport. You will get wet, so do not wear your fanciest or most expensive clothing or gear. If you are going for a ride in the summer, a bathing suit and sandals will do while cooler seasons will entail you to bring along additional layers like fleece.

Wet suits are not really required but most companies provide or rent this item. You will be exposed to the sun so make sure that you put on enough sunscreen before heading out.

Leave behind valuable items that can get lost like jewelry, car keys, your wallet and IDs. You can bring along a camera but make sure that it is the waterproof kind. Most trips also offer to make photos during the rafting that you can buy.

White water rafting is an experience that is one for the books, an activity that adventurous folk should definitely try out. New Zealand has scads of river rides that are not only thrilling, but loaded with amazing scenery as well. However, make sure that you stay on the safety side and heed whatever your guide tells you in order to get great memories out of this experience.

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