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North Island

River rafting

Our most recommended North Island River Rafting

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

1. Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Float down an underground river, slip into fast waters, jump off a small waterfall and take in the magic of the glowworm grotto of Ruakuri Cave on this Black Labyrinth adventure. Put on your gear and learn from professionally trained guides that will take you ziplining, rafting, and caving.  Check in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Get all your equipment and instructions from your guide before you begin the subterranean journey. Leap over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest. The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

Rotorua: Kaituna River Rafting Expereince

2. Rotorua: Kaituna River Rafting Expereince

Drive to the Rotorua Rafting base, just a 20 minute drive from Central Rotorua. Meet your guide at the base and dress up in your wetsuit to stay toasty warm for the day. Your guide will teach you everything you need to know. Don't worry if you've never been whitewater rafting before, you don't need any experience. Non-swimmers are even able to tackle the river. In the summer months, the river is 25 degrees Celsius, making it the warmest river in the country. A quick hop across the road will see you arrive at the river ready to tackle 14 epic rapids and 3 waterfalls. The highlights will be jumping, swimming, surfing, and plummeting over the highest commercially rafted waterfall on the planet. After an hour of action, you will arrive back at the base ready to get changed and check out the photos that were taken throughout the adventure.

Kaituna River and Tutea Falls Whitewater Rafting

3. Kaituna River and Tutea Falls Whitewater Rafting

Join an epic grade 5 whitewater rafting expedition on the Kaituna River and get an adrenaline rush in its deep warm water canyons. Located a 25-minute drive from central Rotorua, the rafting base is next to the Okere Falls Scenic Reserve.  Join an expert guide on an action-packed, 50-minute adventure down 14 epic rapids. Brave the famous 7-meter Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. A must-do for adrenaline junkies and first-time rafters alike, the adventure is run by super-friendly guides to give you the safest and most entertaining trip on the river. Stretch your legs on the nearby walking track at the end of your raft to watch the rapids tumble over the falls, or head to the nearby cafe to enjoy some food and the best selection of craft beer in Rotorua.

Kaituna River: 3.5-Hour Whitewater Rafting Experience

4. Kaituna River: 3.5-Hour Whitewater Rafting Experience

Take on a thrilling rafting adventure with experienced and local Kiwi guides. From first timers to white rafting enthusiasts - there's something for everyone. Navigate a wildly beautiful landscape while learning about Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and protection of the land. A quality adventure is blended with Maori culture for a memorable experience. You can self-drive or benefit from courtesy transport from your door to the relaxing River base situated in the middle of Rotorua's native Kahikatea Forest. You're welcome to make use of the volleyball court or 3D maze located onsite. Receive an in-depth safety briefing on land and clamber into high-quality river gear. It's a quick bus ride to the Okere section of the Kaituna River where you'll train and hone your rafting skills before dropping into the gorge and commencing your adrenaline packed activity. Snake through steep New Zealand native bush clad canyons. Be thrilled by fourteen awesome rapids and tree waterfalls including the world-renowned 7-meter Tutea Falls. Once your amazing journey on the river comes to an end, jump back on the bus and head back to the River base. Re-live the rafting action through photos snapped by a professional adventure photographer along the way. 

Rangitaiki Rafting Grade 2

5. Rangitaiki Rafting Grade 2

The trip starts at the base of the spectacular Aniwhenua Falls, a beautiful waterfall framed by sheer rock walls. The more adventurous can start their trip by jumping into the river from a series of jump-off points at various heights. For the less adventurous, you can make your way down the rocks to the waters edge by foot. This is just the start of the amazing New Zealand scenery on offer, with several other waterfalls & spectacular forests on display along the 1.5 hour trip down the river. There is even an opportunity to stop and have a shower under a beautiful veil waterfall. The rapids are gentle, rolling rapids with very few rocks to avoid, making this a great trip for families or those looking to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Have a turn at trying to guide the raft or just relax and enjoy the view.

Cambridge: Waikato River 45-Minute Extreme Jet Boat Ride

6. Cambridge: Waikato River 45-Minute Extreme Jet Boat Ride

Take a hair-raising ride on the Waikato River, and reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour. Enjoy fast and furious slides, make 360-degree spins, and stop at historic and sightseeing locations. Meet and greet your local, professional guide at the boat ramp meeting point. Complete a small amount of paperwork, and fit yourself up with a spray suit to keep you dry, as well as a life jacket to keep you safe. After receiving a safety briefing from your guide, hear the roar of your high horsepower V8 jet boat as it comes into life once fed with air, fuel, and fire. Head off on the first leg of your tour, and feel your adrenaline pumping. Enter into a 360-degree spin before coming to a stop at historic locations. Listen to your guide's commentary about the places you visit and learn about the fish, birds, and wildlife in the area. Sites you will see include the Cambridge Gorge and Karapiro Dam, as well as rapids and waterfalls. Then, hang on extra tight for the speedy return leg back to the boat ramp.

Turangi: Family Rafting Adventure on Tongariro River

7. Turangi: Family Rafting Adventure on Tongariro River

Drive only a few minutes out of Turangi and start your rafting adventure on the lower reaches of the Tongariro River. The river is located in Tongariro National Park, famous for its awe-inspiring landscapes and fascinating wildlife.  The whole family will ride a series of 20+ rapids on this 8km journey, with professional raft guides that will ensure everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves. You will learn about traditional Maori myths and legends unique to the area and your guides will keep you entertained with water education, safety tips and trivia about the Tongariro environment.  You will also enjoy a visit to the National Trout Centre, where you can feed the trout and enjoy some snacks. For those of you feeling game enough, you can also do some cliff-jumping and swim in the river, all within a safe and monitored environment.

Kaituna River Rafting Grade 5

8. Kaituna River Rafting Grade 5

Situated in the Okere Falls Scenic Reserve the Grade 5 Kaituna River features the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall, the awesome 7m (21ft) Tutea Falls. Although this trip provides full-on action the river is pool drop meaning that every rapid is followed by calm water making it very forgiving for a grade 5 river. Around 15 – 20 minutes of training is provided prior to the trip teaching all the required paddle commands and safety information. Then there is aroun 50 minutes spent having fun in the river rapids. This is serious fun for advanced rafters or even adventurous beginners.

From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

9. From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

Get picked up from your accommodation or an agreed-upon meeting point in Auckland or Rotorua and set off for Hobbiton. Upon arrival, you'll have some time to get something to eat or explore the Shires Rest souvenir shop before joining a two-hour walking tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which includes a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.  Transfer to the movie set on one of the tour operator's buses and hear about how this set was used for all filming of both "The Lord of the Rings" and the "The Hobbit" movies. After the tour, take 15 minutes to relax in the Green Dragon Inn before traveling to Waitomo Caves. Between the two stops, you'll have time to enjoy your picnic lunch. At Waitomo Caves, join a group of up to 12 people on the Black Labyrinth tour, which includes cave tubing and caving in the river that runs through the bottom of the Ruakuri Cave. After arriving at the cave, you will be given a briefing on the art of cave tubing before starting your rafting excursion. Float through a glow-worm grotto, jump over small waterfalls, and enjoy other adrenalin-filled experiences. The tour runs about three hours, 1.5 of which are underground.  Rejoin the main transport for the day and travel to your drop-off destination. On some occasions, the activities may be reversed. After you have completed the final activity, you will be taken to Auckland or Rotorua. You can start and finish in the same place, or choose to make this a one-way journey beginning or ending in Auckland or Rotorua.

Rangitaiki Rafting Grade 3-4

10. Rangitaiki Rafting Grade 3-4

The Rangitaiki rafting experience is mostly grade 3 with one grade 4 rapid. The trip consists of fun, bouncy rapids running through a beautiful river valley and features stunning views of both native and plantation forest. The rapids require good team work from the customers, and 15–20 minutes of training will be given before the trip to teach all of the required paddle and safety commands. Practice is carried out on flat water first, before launching fully into the rapids. This trip is suitable for anyone who is physically active and generally around 80% of customers are first-time rafters. Approximately halfway through the trip there is around 15 minutes of flat water, allowing time to relax, enjoy the scenery, chat with your guide and fellow rafters and even have a swim if you wish.

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Frequently asked questions about North Island River Rafting

What are other things to do than River Rafting that are worth visiting in North Island?

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Other Sightseeing Options in North Island

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What people are saying about North Island

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 95 reviews

One of the best experiences I’ve signed up to. Matt and Luke were entertaining instructors who made us feel safe throughout the experience. Highly recommend this activity. Seeing the glow worms on a raft as you go through is a must.

Great experience, guides made it so fun! We were provided with wet suits, helmets, socks and boots- it was still cold (early Spring) but once we were moving we were golden!

So much fun - jumping down waterfalls and riding in total darkness in parts to see the glow worms. The tour operator was hilarious and we felt so safe.

Como era invierno fuimos solos con los guías. Unos cracks! Súper atentos y siempre manteniéndonos seguros!

an absolute must. Great guides, smooth set up, good gear. well worth it.