Aotearoa beckons you to an amazing rapids rafting adventure that is guaranteed to incite your adrenaline to new levels. This sport originated in America and attained popularity in New Zealand in the late 70s. It is a well established adventure sport in its own right.
Whitewater is formed in a rapid, when a river's gradient (rate at which a river loses its elevation) drops enough to form a bubbly, or aerated and unstable current; the frothy water appears white. The term is also used loosely to refer to less-turbulent but still agitated flows.
The term "white water" also has a broader meaning, applying to any river or creek itself that has a significant number of rapids. (Source: Wikipedia)
The success of the NZ Rafting industry is large due to this beautiful country being blessed with the presence of fast free flowing rivers with magnificent water courses whose source is in interior mountains. They run through forests into the sea.
Although the sport had raft design problems in its early stages of development and raw and keen guides, today the scenario has altered dramatically with cutting edge design technology and guides more skilled and qualified as ever in terms of cleanliness and safety procedures.
A variety of rafts are built to adapt to changing river flows.
There are self bailing rafts for high flows, self baking rafts for medium to low flows and the inflatable kayaks variety when the river gets really low.
Rivers are usually graded as Category 1 to Category 5.
Rafting can range anywhere from driftng along tranquil rivers to mind blowing full scale assault on the senses with hardly any space to breathe as you get wet and drenched down tumultous and wild Grade 5 river course.
Please note that an age limit of 12 to 13 years applies on the rougher river courses.
A detailed listing at the bottom of this article explains the various Class gradings.
You will be provided all safety gear by your tour operator. You will be well advised to take a towel, a swimsuit and some cash for snacks along the trip to or from the river.
The most popular white water rafting spots in the South Island of New Zealand are along the Kawarau, Shotover and Rangitata rivers (one of the premier courses in the country). The Karamea and Buller rivers to the north of the island offer superb rafting adventures. The Waiho and Arnold rivers on the West Coast offer great rafting adventures.
In the North Island of New Zealand, the Rangitaiki, Rangitikei, Tongariro and Wairoa rivers offer fantastic white water rafting adventures. Rotorua showcases the Kaituna cascades which has a spectacular 3 metre drop at Okere Falls.
You can see that the water rafting thrills are well spread out over both the North Island and South Island. To travel form one site to another, you will need a good vehicle. This is where we can assist you by providing a fine New Zealand car rental and / or a New Zealand campervan.
Class 1: Very small rough areas, requires no maneuvering. (Skill Level: None)
Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, small drops, may require maneuvering. (Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)
Class 3: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe a 3-5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)
Class 4: Whitewater, large waves, rocks, maybe a reasonable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)
Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, large rocks and hazards, maybe a large drop, precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)
Class 6: Whitewater, typically with huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, huge drops, but sometimes labeled thusly due to extremely invisible dangers (ie, a smooth slide that creates a near-perfect, almost inescapable, hydraulic, as at Woodall Shoals / Chattooga). Class 6 rapids are considered hazardous even for expert paddlers using state-of-the-art equipment, and come with the warning "danger to life or limb." (Skill Level: Expert)