The 7 Best White Water Rafting places In New Zealand

New Zealand is a world-renowned destination for Adventure Tourism, and there is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities to try while you’re here. One of the most popular activities is white water rafting, and it’s easy to see why. With its dramatic landscape and multitude of rivers, New Zealand is the perfect place to get your fix of white water action.

There are many different rafting operators in New Zealand, all offering different experiences. To help you choose the best one for you, we’ve put together a list of the 7 best white water rafting places in New Zealand.

The Rangitikei River:

The Rangitikei River is located between Lake Taupo and Hawke’s Bay in Central North Island. This section offers Grade II+ rapids with some Grade III+ rapids thrown in for good measure! It’s not all about whitewater though; there are plenty of scenic stops along the way where you can enjoy some incredible views – not least from above where the rapids become more like white water.

The Kaituna River:

The Kaituna River is located on the North Island of New Zealand in Rotorua. It has been rated as one of the top 10 rivers in the world for rafting by National Geographic Magazine. The river runs through a gorge for 15km before joining Lake Taupo at Wairakei Geothermal Centre where you can take a dip in warm geothermal waters after your rafting adventure! There are several levels available from easy to advanced so everyone can have an exciting time on this river.

The Motu River:

The Motu River is a classic New Zealand river. It flows out of the mountains and onto the plains, winding through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The trip starts with a calm section through native forests before entering the gorge section, where you’ll encounter some class 2 rapids. This is a great option for those who want to get a taste of white water rafting without going all out.

The Buller River:

The Buller River is another classic New Zealand river that offers an incredible experience for white water rafting enthusiasts. The trip starts with a calm section through native forests before entering the gorge section, where you’ll encounter some moderate class 2 rapids. This is another great option if you’re looking for something more challenging than what’s offered by the Motu River but not quite as intense as other options on this list.

The Wairoa River:

The Wairoa River is one of the most popular rivers in New Zealand. It is a Grade III river, meaning it’s suitable for all levels of rafters. The section between Waikaremoana and Taneatua is known as ‘the Gorge’ due to its steep cliffs and rock formations. This section offers some of the best white water rafting in New Zealand and is considered one of the top ten white water rafting destinations in the world by National Geographic Adventure magazine.

Matukituki River:

The Matukituki River is another Grade III river that offers some great white water action. This section has been described as ‘one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets’ by Lonely Planet travel guides, so if you want to experience New Zealand from an insider perspective, this would be a great option for you! The entire river is surrounded by beautiful native bush and rainforest which makes for an incredible experience no matter what time of year you visit (although spring or summer are recommended).

Tongariro River:

The Tongariro River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in New Zealand. It has a number of different sections to choose from, each offering different challenges and experiences. The Upper section is considered intermediate and is suitable for those with some prior experience. The Lower section is more challenging and is suitable for experienced rafters only.


Hopefully, this list has given you some insight into the best whitewater rafting places in New Zealand. Whether you want to paddle through a rainforest, or raft down a canyon, there is an adventure for everyone. To ensure your safety, we’d also like to mention that your tour provider needs to legally satisfy all the relevant legislation before letting you ride their rapids.