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White-water rafting on the Shotover River

  • Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

Queenstown’s original adrenaline-pumping adventure, there are two white water trips on offer.

First-timers and scaredy cats should choose the grade 2-3 rapids of the Kawarau River. Daredevils should opt for the Shotover River, which features grade 3-5 rapids and a narrow passage called Skippers Canyon, which was carved by gold miners more than 120 years ago. Ever wanted to raft through a washing machine? Then try this. Guaranteed thrills (and hopefully no spills).

Tour operators also offer a 3-day, 2-night rafting trip to the Landsborough River, and an opportunity to explore a remote, magical setting of 10,000ft mountains, hanging glaciers, and pristine rainforest.

Logistics

Price from: £105
Minimum age: 13
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 4-5 hours

Getting there & doing it

Hotel pick-ups are usually available by prior arrangement with your operator. All equipment is provided (except towel and swimsuit), and expert guides ensure that boat crews complete the course safely. The minimum age for rafting is 13 years, with a minimum weight of 40kg.

When to do it

Kawarau River trips runs all year round, but the Shotover River trip only operates in the summer, with a heli-rafting alternative in winter. The warmer summer months are obviously better for rafting, with more chance of sunshine and warmer temperatures.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Family Adventures Rafting and Sightseeing Trip in Queenstown, New Zealand

  • Queenstown

Family Adventures Rafting and Sightseeing Trip in Queenstown, New Zealand

Viator

Raft the gentle upper reaches of the Shotover River on this half-day trip through Skippers Canyon. You'll drive from Queenstown through a former gold-mining region and learn about this significant part of New Zealand's history. The Class I and II rapids are suitable for ages three years old and up.

Price NZ$229

Min age 3

Rating 4.94 / 5 [285 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New Zealand’s South Island

  • South Islands, New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island

Destination guide

A primordial playground with truly spectacular scenery on the grandest scale, outdoor adventure activities galore, colourful and compelling Maori culture and terribly nice Kiwis.

Round-ups

1

Round-ups that include this experience

Raft on giant rapids on the Zambezi

Inspiration

There are countless rivers with rapids out there that you can ‘raft’, but there are some stand-outs – for the size of their rapids and/or for their exceptional setting. Here are our recommendations.