Our 8 Favourite White Water Rafting Spots in New Zealand

Best Rafting Trips in New Zealand

There’s no two ways about it – New Zealand is a mecca for keen kayakers and whitewater rafters. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an envelope-pushing expert after an adrenaline surge or a calm paddle, there’s something for everyone. Read on and discover Rotorua Rafting’s top eight favourite spots for rafting in NZ.

North Island


Technically blackwater rafting, head to Waitomo Caves in the Waikato for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Tour guides will teach you how to abseil underground and raft your way through fascinating caves with walls covered in a constellation of glow worms.

Tongariro River

Largely known for its famous trek the Tongariro Crossing, this mountainous region in the centre of NZ’s North Island also has some awesome rafting opportunities. Here you’ll find a stretch of river packed with heart-pumping Grade 3 rapids set amongst stunning native bush.

The Mohaka River

Found in picturesque Hawkes’ Bay, the Mohaka offers a variety of rafting options varying from mild to extreme. Here, well-versed rafters can join a multi-day trip along the 172 km long river, rafting next to canyons and gorges for days on end. Enjoy deep gorges, fossilized canyons and plenty of wildlife.

Kaituna River

Our own Kaituna River is our favourite spot for a day spent on white water. The hub of NZ’s whitewater kayaking and rafting community, the Kaituna is loved by locals and tourists alike. Just outside of Rotorua, the Kaituna is a 50-km stretch of fast flowing white water set amongst native bush. Best of all, the Kaituna River is where you’ll find the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall, Tutea Falls, at seven metres high.

Wairoa River

The Wairoa River in the Bay of Plenty offers exhilarating rapids that start at Grade 2 and working their way up to wonderfully choppy Grade 5. Because it is controlled by a hydro dam, this popular spot for white water rafting is only open 26 days a year, so you’ll want to plan ahead to get a coveted spot on the raft.

South Island


Two hours out of Christchurch, Canterbury’s Rangitata River is in fact several small intertwined rivers with plenty of options for those in search of a thrill. Varying from Grade 1 to 5, this is a perfect river for anyone from beginner to expert rafter. The majestic Southern Alps offer scenery you’ll never forget.


The adventure capital of the South Island, you can’t go to Queenstown without rafting! Set alongside stunning snowcapped mountains, the town’s Shotover River is the most popular for rafting. Skippers Canyon is where you want to be on your raft, with Grade 3 and 5 rapids with memorable names like Pinball, Toilet and Aftershock.

West Coast

In one of NZ’s most remote regions, the river rafting trip on the Whataroa River near Franz Josef Glacier is in a league of its own. Start the day by helicoptering up to location, raft down incredibly clear glacial waters with Grade 3 to 5 rapids, and be prepared to portage and abseil at certain sections.

We hope you enjoy rafting your way across NZ! To raft down the Kaituna River, contact Rotorua Rafting today.