"Wild Swimming"

Hi there,

Im sure someone on this forum can help me. I was wondering if anyones familiar with the Wild Swimming craze thats becoming popular in the U.K for example swimming the local rivers mainly for the scenery (but the odd rapid here and there would be cool too.)

I would love to get into this, I know there is a 20 min swim from Polarus Bridge in the SOuth Island, in fact theres a youtube clip if youre interested


I guess in the colder rivers the swim time would be limited anyway, but does anyone know of some good stretches river one could just float down for a couple of hours or even half a day, without getting run over by the shotover jet?

better still if the clarity was good snorkeling would be fun, that reminds me, I think there also a small swim from below Pupu springs.. something like the above mentioned but for a couple of hours or more..?

Thanks heaps in advance



stephenj's picture

Hi Guys,

I haven't yet had the time to attempt any snorkeling but here are two replies for anyone else that might be interested.

Thanks for all your advice.

"Go from the lake wanaka outlet to albert town in the head of the clutha river, carry a dive flag of marker buoy to make jet boats aware your in the water.
Any other part of the river would be very dangerous to drift unguided due to hazards,ie some parts of the river contain whirlpools that are strong enough to pull you underwater even with a buoyancy vest.
Have fun."

"Pupu springs is closed for any contact with water, the river is only about 50 cm deep, you just snorkel it if you want but do not get anywhere near the springs, massive fines.
Try Rewaka resurgence, same stuff but no problems.


hugh's picture

I've swum (on purpose!) the Pelorus lots of times. Unless you're very well insulated I would wear a wet suit. You can swim the river from the road end and it will take you about 4-5 hours. There are some bits you might want to portage. Fisheries scientists regularly drift dive all the main trout rivers in NZ so it can be done all over NZ. A 5mm or 7mm wetsuit would give you some buoyancy and protection from the rocks. The worst thing was getting sunburned on the back of my neck and even my ankles. I reckon you need a face mask and snorkel to make the most of it, and fins would be good as some of the rivers are pretty long.

The Pelorus is warmer later in the day......... Just keep away from willow trees.

stephenj's picture

I'm up in Auckland so its gonna be a once off for me this time round, got a Mate coming from the U.K that likes a bit of adventure, I looked at an outfit that goes from the control gates to reids farm but says on their website they only do a particular day of the year.. cant we just put some wet suits and snorkeling gear on and jump in at the control gates ourselves and jump out at Reids farm?

NZ is full of great rivers, Im not sure why its so hard to just find a nice long scenic stretch of river with good clarity to snorkel down..?

NEW Drift Division When, Where, Who and How.
When : 11th Febuary, 10:10 am (Allow time for Pre Drift Safety Brief)
Where : Taupo Control Gates Lagoon Reserve (see the map)
Who : You and your mates.
How : Fill out the registration form and pay $30 Entry Fee and get it to us. If you slow to commit it will be $40 on the day).

But thanks for your informative advise thus far, Im learning :)



TerryL's picture

You could swim the Aniwhenua section of the Rangitaiki. Most kayak beginners have been doing so for the last twenty years. Very scenic and safe enough if you stay near the middle. Some of our members are bound to be there over the Christmas holidays, you could join in with us.

danriley's picture

17th (next saturday) there will be a big bunch swimming down around lunch time. it is pretty good for a laugh, need a life jacket and helmit though just in case

adrono69's picture

wasn't there a tragic fatality somewhere on the full james section during the worlds last millenium when someone jumped in for a swim and got sucked down and didnt re surface?

k1's picture

My first suggestion would be the waikato river just out of taupo lake, from the control gates to reids farm. Check the flow phone to determine how fast you want to get down the river.

It's beautiful and clear in this section, generally has 12m visibility so definitely bring the snorkel. In fact they run commerical scuba diving float trips down this section.


Just make sure you take out before Huka Falls!!

If you want to swim some rapids you could do the section from rapid jets to full james wave on the waikato also.

stephenj's picture

Oops double post sorry..

stephenj's picture

Ok thanks Guys,

I obviously don't want to put myself at any risk, I'm a competent swimmer and will also wear a wet suit, I also have a full body wet suit.

Id be happy even if its a couple of hours of clear water and scenic bush, What part of the Kaituna do you suggest?

I looked up a couple of rivers in the River guide.

The Otaki's a bit out of my way, I'm in Auckland and I'm prepared to travel 3 to 400 km in either direction I guess.

There's gotta be the odd river you could just jump in and happily snorkel down for a couple of hours?

I Google Earthed 16km up river from Pelorus Bridge, it seemed to look pretty safe apart from a couple of spots. one spot suggested an elevation loss of 22m height over 385m distance, another was a 16% slope over 122metres distance with a loss of 14m height.

at the end of the day Im not sure if Im prepared to go all the way there to check it out only to find out its not worth the risk.

again, a nice clear river with scenery and a nice river swim are my main priorities..??

Thanks again


danriley's picture

just do the kaituna sometime

mike1982's picture

there is a river guide on the list of links on the top left of the site. You can filter it by region or class or just alphabetical order.

I wouldn't swim anything im not familiar with personally or at least anything that is a class II or above.

i would do a river safety course so you know how to identify hazards that are in rivers if i were you. the instructors have a wealth of experience you wont find on google or this website

my 2c.

that said some rapids in rivers are fun to swim, the otaki is one I have rafted a bit with school aged kids and there are a couple of rapids that we send kids down in the white water position, the same river we also had someone watching with a throw bag incase someone was to swim a rapid further down.