The best time to raft in New Zealand

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Combine New Zealand’s soaring mountain ranges with generous amounts of rain, and you get some of the best white water rafting in the world. But what’s the best time of year to raft in New Zealand?

Many of New Zealand’s rivers can be rafted year-round, but guests often prefer having a go in Spring, Summer or Autumn. The best time of year to raft in New Zealand is generally judged on a combination of how high a river is and how warm the water temperature is. The odd river, like the Wairoa near Tauranga, are dam release rivers which means that they can only be rafted for a limited amount of time each year.

The best time to raft in New Zealand on the Kaituna river

Rafting the Kaituna River, Rotorua

Rotorua’s Kaituna River is home to the highest commercially raftable waterfall in the world, and can be rafted year-round. The Kaituna River is generally the warmest in New Zealand, which makes it a top option for Spring (September, October and November) rafting trips. During spring, Rotorua often gets a lot of rain, which makes the Kaituna even more magical – it’s incredibly beautiful when it rains through the gorge. High rainfall also makes the native forest surrounding this river lush and green.

Best time to raft New Zealand’s Kaituna River: Year round; Spring (September to November) is highly recommended.

The best time to raft in New Zealand on the Wairoa river

Rafting the Wairoa River, Tauranga

A full-on Grade Five river, the Wairoa – located between Matamata and Tauranga – is only open 26 days a year. Winding through a rock and tree-lined gorge, the Wairoa combines rapids with exciting drops to create thrilling white water magic. As mentioned above, the Wairoa is a dam release river where a hydroelectric power station has to be shut down in order for the water to be released.

Best time to raft New Zealand’s Wairoa River: Selected days per year. All dates are listed here, and run from September to May.

The best time to raft in New Zealand on the Shotover river

Rafting the Shotover River, Queenstown

The famous Shotover River owes much of its popularity because of its proximity to Queenstown. A bright turquoise blue, the Shotover River weaves through the impressive Shotover Canyon. Depending on river flow, the Shotover is graded between 4 and 5. Best time to raft the Shotover? The season runs year-round, but late Spring (October and November) is optimal. The water isn’t too freezing, it’s high enough to be heaps of fun and you’re not competing with the crowds of high summer.

Best time to raft New Zealand’s Shotover River: Late Spring (October and November)

Kaitiaki offers world-class rafting on the Kaituna and Wairoa rivers. Inspired to embark on an epic white water adventure? Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

  • Review of: Cath Hagan
    If you havent already been white-water rafting then this is the BEST place in the world to have a go!
  • Review of: Sarah H
    Be prepared for an adventure, the views are stunning, and the sense of awe and accomplishment at the end was amazing.
  • Review of: Tristan P
    A must do! Our guides Cam & Curtis were amazing and really funny. Definitely the highlight of the month.
  • Review of: Caradis A
    What an amazing time! We had so much rafting fun, even though at first I was terrified. Will recommend this to everyone.
  • Review of: Te-Aroha P
    Such an exhilarating experience. We loved all the waterfalls and rapids, but we always felt safe with an awesome safety crew.
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