Whitewater Rafting Trips, Wanaka

For a full wilderness rafting experience, the Landsborough River is hard to beat. It’s usually a two- or three-day camping trip covering 50-odd kilometres, accessed by helicopter or fixed-wing plane, though some operators offer a one-day option. You pass by silver beech and totara forests and cascading waterfalls, with snow-covered peaks and the hanging glaciers of Mount Deacon forming the stunning backdrop.

The Landsborough is classified as a grade 3 to 4 river, though it includes the Hellfire rapids, classified grade 5 and usually portaged. A team of sufficient experience, however, can negotiate the rapids.

Closer to Wanaka, the Clutha, at grade 2 to 3, offers more easy-going whitewater rafting and is ideal for first-timers as well as the more experienced. Fittingly, the Clutha’s Maori name, Mata-au, means surface current, referring to the river’s eddies – and eddies add to rafting fun.


Queenstown Rafting offers three-day guided trips down the Landsborough River from mid-November to April and Pioneer Rafting takes guided trips on the Clutha.