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There are a large number of rivers that cut through the Canterbury Plains, but only three that are actually commercially rafted, but these three rivers are crackers. The Rangitata, Waimakariri and the Clarence River.

Canterbury RaftingRafting in Canterbury 

Considering the size and number of rivers that cut through the Canterbury Plains, there are surprisingly few rivers that are actually commercially rafted. This is partly due to the fact that these ‘plain’ dwelling river systems are very wide and braided making it difficult to maintain a decent continuous flow without the river suddenly branching off in another direction and therefore halving the flow.

Canterbury-LargeMap_3.pngNevertheless, there are always exceptions to the rule and there are three very good rivers known not just for their great rafting but also their outstanding scenery, making rafting in Canterbury a worthwhile option. 

Furthermore their locations Top, Bottom and Mid Canterbury make at least one of these rivers accessible regardless of where you are.


The Rangitata River 

Grade 1 to 5 Glacier Feb High-Country Rafting
The Rangitata River passes through some of New Zealand's most spectacular scenery, scenery you would have seen if you happened to watch the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. The rapids gradually build from a flat water start to thrilling white water. The Rangitata gorge has two grade 5 sections but starts on a ‘Gentle Annie’ grade 1 (slow flat water) so there is something for everyone. A safety brief and training is accomplished during the first half hour as you glide down the grade 1 water. The rapids then build in a natural progression to an intense grade 4 and 5 with the full volume of the river narrowing to a section called ‘The Pinch’. Don’t worry we stop before these rapids to show you the strategy to get through. There is also a thrilling option called ‘leap of faith’ this requires jumping from a rather large imposing rock into the pool below. There is some fantastic scenery and wildlife to be seen along the way

Rangitata River Rafting Options: Half or full day options are available.

Ability: A reasonable standard of fitness and confidence in water is required.


The Waimakariri River

Waimakariri River Rafting – Grade 1-2  
One of the largest of the Canterbury Rivers, the snow fed  ‘Waimak’ as it is known to locals, rises on the eastern flanks of the mighty Southern Alps, southwest of Arthur's Pass. As the river heads towards the Canterbury Plains it moves through a line of mountains, forcing it into a narrow and lengthy canyon (the Waimakariri Gorge) - It is here the rafting gets interesting. This river offer’s some of the countries best high country vista’s as the river drifts through craggy mountain ranges, along the canyons where it expose’s spectacular native forests. The lower section is much more adventurous with every bend harboring exciting waves.

Waimakariri River Rafting Options
This can be done as a full day option or is can be done over two days as a camping safari; giving you time to take in the endlessly vast landscape this river is famous for. This is considered on of the best overnight river trips in the country.

Ability: A reasonable standard of fitness and confidence in water is required.


The Clarence River

The Clarence River - Grade 2-3 From the mountains to the sea 
This is one of New Zealand’s longest rivers and is known as the 'Colorado' of the South and although there is an option to do a day raft, this river is famed for multi-day wilderness rafting – some up to 8 days in length.

Starting at an altitude of 700 meters (2296 feet) the fast flowing waters of the Clarence take you on a journey though the isolated valleys between the seaward and inland Kaikoura mountain ranges. It is well known for its rugged beauty and peaceful isolation amongst untouched wilderness, and abundant wildlife.

Starting in the expansive alpine tussock region of Marlborough‘s outback the river snakes its way through three spectacular gorges of twisted rock with amazing geology features before braiding and finally rushing into the sea in a roller coaster climax. Every twist and turn of this river brings something exciting to behold.

The Clarence River Rafting Options
We recommend you take 6 or more days and enjoy wilderness camping adventure, perhaps take a day out in the middle and explore some of the side valleys, climb a peak or explore Muzzle Station. If the river is running high, it is possible to do a shorter trip.

Ability: A reasonable standard of fitness and confidence in water is required.