Rafting on both the Shotover and Kawarau rivers offer amazing views, crystal clear waters and heart-pounding white water rapids.
Aside from the location and scenery, there are a few differences between the two rivers you can raft on in Queenstown. These include the grade of rapids, the amount of rapids rafted and the swimming ability needed by participants.
Shotover River – The Shotover River is graded 3-5 (5 is the highest grade commercially rafted in the world), therefore it's a more exciting river to raft, harder to navigate and with a higher risk of falling out the boat. The rafting grade is generally higher after a prolonged and heavy spell of rain or during the snowmelt in spring. There are more rapids on the river, compared to the Kawarau including a section through the 170m long Oxenbridge tunnel, a remnant from the gold rush days. Your adrenalin will be pumping as you hit rapids with humorous but scary names like Rock Garden, After Shock, Sharks Fin, Toilet, Pinball and Jaws. You need to be a fairly comfortable swimmer to raft this river.
The drive to the start of the Shotover River rafting trip is via the Skippers Canyon Road, famous for it's incredible twists and turns, tight corners and exciting cliff edges - this trip that is an adventure in itself. The narrow dirt track road offers spectacular views over the river you will be rafting down.
Kawarau River – The Kawarau River is usually graded 2-3 (however it is occasionally graded 2-4 at higher water levels), therefore it’s easier to navigate and there is less risk of falling out. There are flat stretches of river between the rapids where you'll have the opportunity to race your friends on the other rafts or jump out and swim. The Kawarau River is a much deeper and bigger river, flowing through some spectacular Central Otago scenery. A trip on this river is a good option if you’re a less confident swimmer. There is also a family option for rafting this river.
For more information about rafting in Queenstown visit http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/information/rafting-and-riversurfing/