Imagine a thrilling roller coaster ride with the added fun and fear factor of tumbling white water rapids.

White water rafting is hugely popular in New Zealand. The country has 1500 rivers, many of them accessible by road, and commercial rafting operators have sought out the most diabolical dancing waves, ‘stoppers’ and waterfalls to provide the ultimate challenge. Around 50 rivers are regularly worked by the operators, providing a complete range of rafting experiences.

The main rafting season is from October to May and the major centres of activity are Rotorua and Queenstown, with a range of Grade 1 to 5 rivers. The North Island principal rafting rivers are the Rangataiki, Tongariro, Ngaruroro, Mohaka and the Kaituna (boasting a 7m waterfall as its highlight). The main South Island rivers are the Buller, Karamea, Clarence, Rangitata, Shotover and Kawarau. Heli-rafting companies operate in the more remote headwaters such as the West Coast’s Hokitika, Grey and Karamea rivers.

Rafting can be enjoyed by anyone who loves the outdoors, although companies usually set a lower age limit of 12/13 years for rapids above Grade 2. All you need to bring for a day excursion is your swimming togs. Wetsuits, flotation gear and helmets are provided and you receive a thorough safety briefing and some fairly intense paddling instructions. You climb aboard an 8-seater rubber raft along with one or two guides and set off down a narrow, rock-strewn riverbed interspersed with short sections of wild, churning rapids. The key to successfully negotiating the rapids is taking the correct line and paddling hard (forwards, backwards or sideways) in response to the guide’s shouted commands. It is frightfully thrilling when it all comes together and you will instinctively scream with delight and deliver high fives all around.

White water rafting is an essential part of the Kiwi outdoor experience – a spine-tingling, heart-pounding roller coaster ride down some truly magnificent rivers.

Adventure Sports: New Zealand the Adventure Capital of the World

  • Canyoning New Zealand


    Picture a giant fun park waterslide for grownups, deep in a wilderness river gorge. Add torrents of rushing water and towering rock structures and you’re in canyoning territory.

  • New Zealand Snowboarding


    Picture a mountain with perfectly groomed snow slopes and state-of-the-art terrain park within a magnificent setting. Enthusiastic snowboarders are ripping it up as outdoor amplifiers crank out hip-hop music across the park.

  • Swim With Dolphins

    Swim with Dolphins

    Where else can you interact all year round with one of nature’s most intelligent and playful creatures? New Zealand has several coastal areas where you can enjoy a breathtaking close encounter with friendly dolphins.

  • Adventure Sports Walking Trekking


    New Zealand is a walking-trekking paradise of pristine landscapes. When you think of New Zealand you automatically think of walking or ‘tramping’ as Kiwis call it. Millions of visitors have enduring memories of beautiful walking tracks and comfortable huts in New Zealand’s backcountry.

  • Adventure Sports Aerial Sightseeing

    Adventure Tours

    New Zealand is a beautiful and diverse country with many challenging outdoor activities. One sure way of experiencing all the highlights is to join a specialist adventure tour. That way you get to walk on glaciers, cruise the fiords, hike on volcanoes and swim with dolphins.

  • Adventure Sports Aerial Sightseeing

    Aerial Sightseeing

    Take off into clear blue skies for a unique perspective on New Zealand’s breathtaking mountain, glacier, fiord, lake and river scenery. Aerial sightseeing is one of our most popular visitor attractions and people often say that a scenic flight has been the highlight of their New Zealand holiday.

  • Adventure Sports 4WD Safaris

    4WD Safaris

    Explore New Zealand’s remote backcountry areas by 4WD vehicle - the perfect way to combine adrenalin-charged activity with the enjoyment of fresh air and superb alpine and coastal scenery.

  • Adventure Sports 4 Wheel Motorbikes

    4 Wheel Motorbikes

    Experience the ultimate ‘get down and dirty’ ground-gripping adventure on your New Zealand holiday. Like 4WD Safaris, motorbike tours are a great way to view spectacular backcountry while having a truckload of fun in the process.

  • Adventure Sports Caving


    Is there a latent speleologist inside you waiting to get out and explore the limestone labyrinths of the underworld? Caving opportunities abound in New Zealand, which has extensive areas of karst limestone landscape. Serious caving enthusiasts can stay in the Tomo Group Lodge at Waitomo.

  • Adventure Sports Aerobatics


    Aerobatic action flights are a relatively new development on the adventure tourism scene. This is moderate to extreme adventure for thrill seekers and would be ‘fly boys’ and ‘fly girls’. Looping the loop in a Pitts Special stunt plane is not for the faint hearted.

  • Adventure Sports Black Water Rafting

    Black Water Rafting

    Trust the Kiwis to come up with some red-hot action adventure in freezing water-filled caves. Their cavalier, can-do attitude was amply demonstrated in 1987 when a Waitomo guide casually floated through the Ruakuri Cave on an inflatable tube.

  • Adventure Sports Bungy Jumping

    Bungy Jumping

    What adventure sport offers the maximum adrenalin rush with the minimum risk? You simply can’t go past bungy jumping. It’s a complete head game where you have nothing to fear but a massive air rush and a surge of adrenalin that can last for days.

  • Adventure Sports Canoeing Kayaking


    Imagine the pleasure of drifting serenely on a mirror-smooth lake with snow-capped mountains reflected in its surface, or on a crystal clear stream meandering through lush rainforest. New Zealand is a paddler’s paradise, being completely surrounded by ocean, dotted with a thousand lakes and criss-crossed by over 1500 rivers.

  • Adventure Sports Cycling


    New Zealand is a great country for cycle touring on picturesque backcountry roads. On our many touring routes you can experience the freedom of the open road with the wind in your hair, the sun on your back and the tarmac barrelling along under your wheels.

  • Fly By Wire

    Fly By Wire

    Can you visualise yourself in a rocket ship soaring through space at breakneck speed? You are encased in a part-plane, part-rocket machine as it hurtles around in a circle, tethered to a steel cable. Fly By Wire is a self-drive flying machine unique to New Zealand.

  • Adventure Sports Hot Air Ballooning

    Hot Air Ballooning

    Escape to a world of peace and tranquility and see the dawn break over a silent land. There’s nothing quite so romantic and exciting as soaring skyward in a balloon and cruising effortlessly over a changing landscape.

  • Adventure Sports Heli-skiing New Zealand


    Have you tried the ultimate wilderness ski experience? New Zealand has thousands of hectares of untouched powder snow on virgin mountain slopes - the stuff of dreams. Heli-ski operators cover a vast area of off-piste territory, ranging far and wide along the Southern Alps during the July to October season.

  • Adventure Sports Horse Trekking

    Horse Trekking

    Have you ever dreamed of cantering along a wild, white-sand beach, or riding a high country ridge with views forever? New Zealand has horse trekking operations in almost every corner of the country. Ask your nearest Visitor Information Centre for the pamphlet ‘Where to Ride in New Zealand.

  • Adventure Sports Glacier Walking

    Glacier Walking

    Take a hike on a massive river of ice sliding inexorably down the precipitous slopes of the Southern Alps. Glacier walking is one of New Zealand’s top attractions. Experienced guides can lead you into an alien world of blue-tinged ice caves, seracs and pinnacles on the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.

  • Adventure Sports Jet Boating

    Jet Boating

    Are you ready for the rollicking river ride of your life? In New Zealand there is only one way to catch the canyons, go goggle-eyed in the gorges and ballistic on braided rivers - that is by jet boat.

  • Adventure Sports Hunting


    New Zealand offers some of the finest big game trophy hunting in the world. Dedicated hunters hold this country in high regard for the quality of its trophies, the outstanding alpine and forest habitats and the year round open season for deer species.

  • Adventure Sports Motorcycle Tours

    Motorcycle Tours

    Nothing can match the freedom of touring New Zealand on the open road. Enjoy the buzz of barrelling along in fresh cool air, with the hum of tyres on tarmac, while observing the countryside. When the tar seal gives way to gravel or even clay and sand, you still have freedom to ride.

  • Adventure Sports Mountain Biking

    Mountain Biking

    When the fat tyre fever hits you there’s only one thing to do. Take a power-trip down a twisting, turning, gnarly mountain bike track in the New Zealand mountains, hills and forests. bMountain biking is an adventure sport that has come of age in this country.

  • Adventure Sports Orienteering


    Have you tried getting your mind around ‘The Thought Sport’. This adventure sport calls for a perfect harmonious balance between mind and body. You use your mind to interpret the map and compass and your body to tackle the strenuous physical achievement of completing the course.

  • Adventure Sports Mountaineering


    Want to follow in the footsteps of the conqueror of Mt Everest? The Southern Alps of New Zealand are the ideal training ground for aspiring mountaineers. The Alps extend along the spine of the South Island from the Inland Kaikouras and Nelson Lakes down to Fiordland and are studded with many impressive peaks.

  • Adventure Sports Packages


    New Zealand offers the visitor a whole new dimension in world travel as it has infinite variety within a very compact landmass. You will be delighted with the ever-changing landscape vistas. Complete contrasts can be experienced within one day, including breathtaking alpine scenery.

  • Adventure Sports Parapenting


    What’s the easiest way for humans to fly? Without a doubt it’s parapenting. Parapenting is a wonderful adventure sport that inspires a great feeling of freedom, floating on the breeze under a controlled descent to mother earth.

  • Adventure Sports River Sledging

    River Sledging

    So you’ve done the white water rafting thing and it was a breeze, right? Well now it’s time to get right into the water for some serious mind-blowing fun. River sledging is the most basic, hands on, ‘face in the water’ style of white water rafting. All you need is your swimsuit and an absolutely positive can-do attitude.

  • Adventure Sports Rafting


    Imagine a thrilling roller coaster ride with the added fun and fear factor of tumbling white water rapids. White water rafting is hugely popular in New Zealand. The country has 1500 rivers, many of them accessible by road, and commercial rafting operators have sought out the most diabolical dancing waves.

  • Adventure Sports Rock Climbing

    Rock Climbing

    It’s an incomparable sensation to be high on a wall, moving with precision on the edge of space. Your concentration is focused on a crucial move and in that one perfect moment you deftly swing up and lock onto the handhold.

  • Adventure Sports Scuba Diving

    Scuba Diving

    New Zealand’s coastal waters offer some of the best underwater diving in the world. Our deeply indented coastline is actually longer than that of the United States. Add to this the fact that nowhere is more than two hours drive from the sea, and it becomes obvious why this is such an aquatic-centred nation.

  • Sky Diving

    Sky Diving

    Skydiving takes you as high as you can go in terms of adrenalin-pumping adventure sports. Nothing can prepare you for the phenomenal force of slipstream air on your face as you lean out the aircraft door, think briefly about backing out of the jump, and then plunge into space to free fall for 45 seconds at around 180 kph.

  • Surfing New Zealand


    Come on a long joyride inside super tubes and perfect peeling waves at Raglan, our hottest surf spot. This famous surfing nirvana has steep, full-on wave sets that promise to get you fully amped on the longest ride of your life.

  • Theme Parks

    Theme Parks

    Let the show begin for the entertainment of kids from four to ninety four. New Zealand has a top selection of theme and leisure parks for your enjoyment. Auckland’s Rainbow’s End stands out for its variety of attractions, including the dreaded Fear Fall, Pirate Ship, Cam Am Cars, Log Flume ride.

  • Windsurfing


    Catch the wind at any New Zealand beach, which is exposed to our invigorating sea breezes. Windsurfing is a growing adventure sport with thousands of Kiwi adherents following the perfect wind around the coast. Visitors can do the same as New Zealand is well endowed with surf shops at beach resorts where you can hire windsurfers.

  • Adventure Thrill Sports


    Here’s a burgeoning adventure thrill sport that’s on a roll. Zorbing is a unique Kiwi invention that is not only ‘off the wall’ but seems to also be off an alien planet. Zorbing originated in New Zealand in the 1990’s as a novel invention by two Kiwis looking for a new adventure challenge.

  • Skiing


    Come downunder for some thrilling downhill skiing on fresh deep powder snow. New Zealand is an increasingly popular international ski destination. Our June to October season coincides with the Northern Hemisphere summer, so many competitive ski teams use our slopes for off-season training.

  • Adventure Thrill Sports

    Adventure Sports

    Welcome to New Zealand, a magical world where a clean, green, pristine landscape provides the setting for an amazing variety of outdoor activities. This small country has a big reputation as nature’s theme park in the South Pacific.

  • Abseiling


    If you enjoy high level excitement then why not step boldly over the edge of a near-vertical rock face? Abseiling (or rappelling) is a classic outdoor adventure challenge, which anyone can enjoy. You don’t need experience to enter this vertical world, just a desire to overcome a natural fear of heights and give it a go.