White Water Rafting on Shotover River Queenstown, New Zealand ⋆ Who do I do
  • White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

White Water Rafting on Shotover River Queenstown, New Zealand

Experience the thrill of white water rafting on Shotover River, Queenstown!

Road tripping the beautiful South Island of New Zealand, we had to make a stop at Queenstown.  Queenstown …. home of adrenaline pumping activities and the adventure capital of New Zealand.  Best known for bungee jumping off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge and the Nevis Arc Swing, but have you considered white water rafting?  If you’re adrenaline junkies like us, then you must try white water rafting on Shotover River, Queenstown.  

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

View of Shotover river close up

We booked our rafting adventure with Queenstown Rafting, which is one of the largest companies in Queenstown, maintains a high level of standard in safety and is always looking to reduce their environmental footprint.  The company offers half day trips to Shotover River and Kawarau River.  Kawarau River is ideal for first timers to white water rafting; a grade 2-3 river which also featured as River Anduin in Lord of the Rings!  Since Ian and I have rafted previously in the America, Australia and Bali, the Shotover River was perfect for us.  Rafting through the popular grade-3-5 river was an unforgettable experience and adrenaline pumping!

Journey through Skippers Canyon to Shotover River

Our pick up was at the Queenstown Rafting Shop early morning around 8am.  To get to Shotover River, the transfer included a trip along one of their dangerous roads … Skippers Canyon.  Now if you’ve not heard of Skippers Canyon, it is one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand but also one of the scariest.   The road around the canyon is super narrow – when I say narrow, the road is just about wide enough for our coach and looking out of the windows all you can see is the sheer drop down into the gorge of around several hundred metres…

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Driving along Skippers Canyon Road with Shotover river below

Holy moly, I don’t know how the driver meandered round the unsealed road.  Fingers crossed we hoped that we wouldn’t have to let a car pass by.  God knows how we would let them pass?! ha ha!  All I can say is … good luck!  Actually, rental cars are not permitted to drive on this road as it’s deemed too dangerous and won’t insure it.  I couldn’t help but look out of the window and stare at the cliff edge.  It was a vertical drop down to Shotover River.  If you happen to be scared of heights, just don’t look out of the window during the journey.

High above the raging Shotover River, Skippers Road creeps along the face of Skippers Canyon. Don’t look down! - New Zealand Tourist Board

Apparently the river was known as the richest river in the world, since the road was built by miners during the gold rush.  This was the only track to reach the Skippers township and Upper Shotover diggings.  This unsealed road is 16.5 miles long, with many hairpins and steep drops.  However, it does offer dramatic scenery, stunning views of the mountains, gorge and of course, the Shotover River below.

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Our drive through Skippers Canyon

Skippers Canyon road is famous since it appeared in Lord of the Rings – the road was used for the scene when Arwen summoned the magical flood.  It also appeared in the film Mission Impossible Fallout too.

Rafting on Shotover River

Before heading out to the river, a full safety briefing was given to everyone (even to those who have rafted before).  We headed to the changing room to suit up in our wet suits, life jacket, boots and helmet.  The bright blue rafts were ready and waiting for us at Deep Creek.  We were put into groups with each raft holding up to 7 people including a qualified rafting guide.  And off we went to test out our skills on the river.

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Our group on the raft

This was exciting even though the rapids were gentle to start.  The rafting guide would shout out to us what to do.  In my mind, all I kept thinking was I hoped the raft wouldn’t overturn – but I think that every time I go out rafting 😉  Up and over hitting the gentle rapids (Rock Garden, grade 3)  just to warm us up, preparing us for the grade 4 and 5 rapids later.  Paddles in hand we listened to our guide carefully, following his every word and instruction.

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Practising our skills on the gentle rapids on Shotover river

We drifted along the slow part of the river and all of a sudden, the guide shouts out to us that we can jump in.  Remember, feet first when you pop into the river in case you encounter any solid objects or rocks in the river.  Ian and I jumped into the water with a few others the cool water was so refreshing.  This was so much fun bobbing along the river.  All of a sudden the guide shouts that we need to get back in quick.  Pulling ourselves into the raft, we clambered in quickly and picked up our paddles ready and waiting for what would be in store for us.

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

What a thrill over the Grade 4-5 and no one fell out!


White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Down Cascade (grade 3)

Oh my, we saw the grade 4-5 rapids ahead of us. We pushed through the rapids, bouncing along and our raft didn’t even flip!  We rafted through the following rapids on the river:

  • Aftershock
  • Squeeze
  • Anvil
  • Toilet
  • Oh Sh*t
  • Pinball

Yes, there’s rapids called ‘Toilet’ and ‘Oh Sh*t’!

After those exhilarating rapids, we rafted through the 170m Oxenbridge tunnel where we kept paddles inside the raft away from the tunnel walls.  I must say, it was fairly dark in the tunnel which just added an extra thrill to the adventure.  The light could be seen in the distance at the end of the tunnel as we made our way through.  Next up was the Cascade (grade 3) and we braced ourselves through it.  Finally we made our way to the last part called Arthurs Point.  

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

Finishing at Arthurs Point

After the white water rafting, you can relax in the local sauna and have a hot shower.  Then you’ll be transferred back to the shop where the pick up point was.

What to Bring

  • Swim suit
  • Towel
  • Money

Shop our favourites:

Price

$229 for a half day trip (New Zealand dollars) (around ~£118)

Price includes:

  • Transfer to the rafting base and back to Queenstown
  • Rafting clothing (wet suit, life jacket, helmet and boots)
  • Hot shower
  • Sauna
  • White water rafting on Shotover river

Tips:

  • The half day trip lasts for 4.5 hours
  • Our trip took place the end of January.  If you wish to book the trip during Winter, between June – September, there is the heli-raft option. The transfer is by helicopter to the rafting point.  Price is $339 (around~£175).
  • Cameras cannot be taken.  But don’t worry, photos will be taken during your trip.  Don’t forget to bring money to purchase the photos and also for any snacks or drinks.
  • The minimum age for rafting is 13 years old and the minimum weight is 40kg.

White water rafting down Shotover River was exhilarating and we enjoyed every minute of it.  What a thrill!  An exciting and memorable experience.  If you’re looking for an adrenaline pumping adventure then definitely book onto this trip.

Are you brave enough to try this?

Other trips you might be interested in:

Click here to read our post on New Zealand’s North Island.

Have you rafted in Queenstown?  Where would would you recommend us rafting next?

 

 

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White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.

White Water Rafting Adventure on Shotover River, Queenstown, New Zealand - WhodoIdo: Have you tried white water rafting? Take a trip through Skippers Canyon – one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Ride the grade 3-5 rapids on Shotover River. A thrilling experience you won’t forget! Check out our post and read about our exciting adventure.
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30 Comments

  • Constance 11/09/2018 (21:58)

    Your photos are amazing, it’s such a beautiful river with adrenaline to boot! It looks like you had a great and safe time, I can’t believe that you can’t drive a rental car over some spots, that definitely tells you not to go there without a tour and a ride. The sauna also sounds like a great way to relax after that exhilarating raft ride.

    • Lana
      Lana 12/09/2018 (16:56)

      The ride there is a little hairy – even i would be scared to drive along there 😉 It’s a good day out – definitely adrenaline pumping! 🙂

  • Ann Marie Ruby 10/09/2018 (18:17)

    Enjoyed reading your post! I have gone rafting before, it is so amazing!

    Blessings from Seattle,
    Ann Marie Ruby

    • Lana
      Lana 10/09/2018 (21:51)

      Thank you! We love rafting too – it’s such a thrill 🙂

  • Becca Talbot 29/08/2018 (13:44)

    My gosh, what an experience this was!! I would love to do something like this in the future, but will have to save my money as flights to New Zealand are pretty expensive! x

    • Lana
      Lana 29/08/2018 (15:09)

      NZ flights are a bit pricey from the UK. Hopefully you’ll get the chance to visit NZ one day and try the rafting 🙂

  • Amanda Dunn 28/08/2018 (17:21)

    This looks amazing! My husband isn’t a great swimmer so I’m going to need to enlist some friends to go with me instead. I think the scariest part for me would be the drive! I love the names. I’m sure I would be repeating oh [email protected] the whole time!

    • Lana
      Lana 28/08/2018 (18:07)

      I love the names haha! The drive was a bit scary – just don’t look down! 😉

  • Leah 28/08/2018 (10:38)

    This looks like a great trip! I’m not sure I’m brave enough for white water rafting though haha

    • Lana
      Lana 28/08/2018 (16:58)

      You should give it a go when you visit NZ. I bet you would love it 🙂

  • Renata 28/08/2018 (07:39)

    This sounds amazing – what great fun it must be to shoot down these waters with a bunch of other daredevils. Definitely would love to do this rafting!

    • Lana
      Lana 28/08/2018 (16:57)

      Such a fun day out, definitely an experience to remember! 😉

  • Sheri 27/08/2018 (18:25)

    OMg you went rafting in Bali too??! That is crazy. I have always wanted to as it seems like loads of fun and an adventure but I have been too afraid to try. New Zealand has been on our bucket list for ages, but we want to go to NZ and Australia when we can be away for at least one month. Love this post and sharing on Pinterest! <3

    • Lana
      Lana 27/08/2018 (19:32)

      I preferred the rafting in NZ than Bali – it was adrenaline pumping! Definitely give it a go. Take your time travelling through NZ and Australia. Thanks Sheri 🙂

  • Anshika Juneja 27/08/2018 (16:04)

    New Zealand is so beautiful! I have never been there but would love to visit this beautiful country. It looks like you guys had lot of fun on your adventure trip.

    • Lana
      Lana 27/08/2018 (16:39)

      We had so much fun road tripping around New Zealand, would love to go back and spend more time there. 🙂

  • Dominic 27/08/2018 (08:56)

    Queenstown is such a fantastic adventure capital. We loved it there! We contemplated heading out on the Shotover River but just came off of a multi-day trek and wanted nothing more than to nurse our wounds with our Airbnb and bottles of wine. Will have to check it out next time we head to South Island.

    • Lana
      Lana 27/08/2018 (09:12)

      We would love to go back to South Island. Queenstown is great for the adrenaline junkies … we even did the Nevis Swing there! 🙂

  • Priya Florence Shah 26/08/2018 (18:42)

    You had me at “River Anduin in Lord of the Rings” even though I’ve never gone rafting. This place is stunning. I remember seeing the last few scenes and Mission Impossible Fallout and thinking they looked a lot like the cliffs in NZ.

    • Lana
      Lana 26/08/2018 (19:04)

      Yes – you’ll notice that some of the scenes were filmed there for Mission Impossible. NZ is beautiful 🙂

  • WanderlustBeautyDreams 26/08/2018 (17:13)

    I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand! The white water rafting looks like so much fun, I’ve never done that activity before. Thanks for sharing your experience and the photos sold me on doing this someday!

    • Lana
      Lana 26/08/2018 (18:34)

      You’ll have so much fun what water rafting and it’s the perfect place to try! 🙂

  • Kristie 26/08/2018 (13:49)

    We were in that area for a very short time many years ago. This would have been an awesome way to experience the beauty of the South Island! It looks like a fantastic time. Not sure if I could get my whole family to go, but I’d enjoy it! 🙂

    • Lana
      Lana 26/08/2018 (14:07)

      White water rafting is such a cool experience. I bet you could convince your family to try it ;). Maybe next time!

  • Sreekar 26/08/2018 (06:31)

    Wow. That seems kinda surreal. Especially liked the turquoise amidst all the beige and rocks. And so many more things to do as per your description! Wouldnt mind going there too!

    • Lana
      Lana 26/08/2018 (10:02)

      The scenery is beautiful in New Zealand. One of our favourites places!

  • Yvette 18/08/2018 (16:01)

    This is right up my street for my next andrenalin fix! Thanks for the great tips options!

    • Lana
      Lana 18/08/2018 (18:12)

      You’ll love this! Book this when you’re visiting NZ 🙂

  • Kim 17/08/2018 (02:12)

    Its beautiful. But I feel like I would jump ship before the “Oh Shit” LOL .

    • Lana
      Lana 17/08/2018 (20:24)

      Ha ha! What a name eh! I’m surprised the raft didn’t flip. Definitely great fun. 😉

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