Best Class 4-5 runs in NZ?

Whitewater NZ launches new website

Get your whitewater news and events from

Buy, Sell, Swap is now at

More details soon...


We'll be traveling to New Zealand for our Honeymoon from November 29-December 29 and though my wife Sarah is fond of adventure, she has a distaste for being upside down in a kayak in whitewater. That said, I'm looking for advice on the best kayaking New Zealand has to offer during runoff and some partners to paddle with. Sarah and I have agreed that I will paddle for about 7-8 days over the course of our trip while she finds other adventures, starting in Auckland and heading quickly south to the SI. I definitely would like to share the heli-access experience with a solid and enthusiastic group sometime in December and hopefully several times. We're also interested in a trip where Sarah could raft and I paddle with a new group of friends. What would you tell a fellow lover of waterfalls, stout rapids and the wonderful low lying places that water calls home!? My copy of NZ WW by Graham Charles is supposedly on the way.


anashnz's picture

Nz Doesnt really have much of a snow melt season, Most things are rain dependant.

kevinheiner's picture

Thanks for the beta, this gives me a great jumping off point to start some planning efforts. If you're up for paddling let me know. As the dates get closer I'll have a better idea of when I'll be paddling. What kind of season are you guys expecting based on snowpack?


gwynfor's picture

Hi Kevin,
These are a personal selection, I'm sure that others will have their favorites. NZ grading is a bit different to some in other parts of the world, so start cautious and work up (Gauley would probably be given G3+ to G4 if it were in NZ).
In the North Island (going from North to South);
Wairoa. A Good G4, some steep bits in a gorge, but all manageable. Rafted. Only releases on some Sundays (check the events calendar here).
Kaituna. A very short G4 run! One sizeable (~5-6m) falls and the rest is easier. Rafted, but with a good chance of a flip on the falls. Runs nearly all of the time, but only rafted below a certain flow.
Mohaka. The lower gorge is a great all-day (4-5hour) trip. Much of it is G3, with some nice G4 bits. Bigger than most North Island rivers. Rafted, but not very often. Runs nearly all the time. Long shuttle if you do it yourself.
Rangitikei. A half day trip. Again, mostly G3 with a G4+ section towards the end. Rafted in most water levels.

South Island - lots to choose from!
Arahura. A classic G4 heli trip. harder if you run some of the bits that most portage.
Whitcombe. Another classic G4 heli trip.
Styx. Great if it has rained - walk in. Not sure of the state of the track now - it was damaged. Harder if you walk further up.
Upper Hokitika. A fairly serious G5 undertaking. Heli in for a long day, but some of the best boating around.
Lower Perth. Heli in for some pleasant moderate G4. Rafted (I think).
Waikaia. A great G5 trip that requires rain. A long way from anywhere!
Nevis. The local G5 for the Queenstown paddlers. A full day, especially your first time down.
Kawarau (Nevis Bluff). Short G5, roadside, big and intimidating. This gets paddled fairly regularly in lower levels. Take a look from the road even if you aren't going to paddle it!
Hollyford. Several sections, of varying difficulty. Most are rain dependent to some degree.

Have fun