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Rafting on the Rangitikei and Ngaruroro Rivers, North Island, New Zealand

Adventure or Discovery?

Exploring rivers is a passion here at River Valley.

Since 1982 that passion has found expression taking people down rivers in rafts. That passion has now been passed through three generations, with two of those generations still actively guiding.

We raft regularly on two New Zealand rivers, the Rangitikei - our home river - and the Ngaruroro, just over the range in Hawkes Bay.

Between these two rivers we can offer you a variety of trips, from the intensity of a half day on the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei, to gentle float trips for families also on the Rangitikei, to mutli day wilderness trips on both the headwaters of the Rangitikei and Ngaruroro Rivers.

You can, click here for available river rafting trips.

Alternatively, read on if you are not sure what sort of trip is best for you.

A Guide to Choosing the Right New Zealand White Water Rafting Trip

Grade 1 and 2

These are essentially float trips, but often with numerous small rapids.  Trips on these sections can be great fun, especially for family groups, and more senior adventurers.  

Combine with a picnic lunch and maybe a side hike, and you have a fantastic day out.  An example of this type of trip would be the Scenic Fun Day that runs from River Valley Lodge downstream. 

Grade 3

Grade 3 is that middle ground.  More rapids of greater difficulty than Grade 1 and 2 trips, while not as intense as Grade 4 and 5.  Trips on these rivers can be excellent for older family groups, fit senior adventurers, and some work groups.

Grade 3 river trips are extremely popular in places such as the USA, and on a worldwide basis are probably the most commonly run rafting trips.

There are a number of examples in New Zealand, including the Tongariro, the Rangitiaki, and the Buller, which all have extensive Grade 3 sections.

At River Valley we offer overnight trips on the Ngaruroro which has a long fun section of Grade 2 and 3 rapids. 

Grade 4 and 5

There is no doubt that if you are looking for an edgier rafting New Zealand style experience, then you need to be looking at Grade 4 and 5 trips.

Major rapids on these trips are complex, and often entail serious water hydraulics.  

You need to be a person who will be an active participant in the raft.  This will require at least average fitness and an ability to respond quickly to your guide's commands.

There is a very real chance - though small - that you may end up in the water. 

Examples of these rivers regularly rafted in New Zealand are the Wairoa, the Rangitata, and the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei which River Valley rafts on a daily basis. This is one of the classic half day Grade 5 rafting trips.

Multi Day River Trips

Multi Day river trips add in new elements.  

Trips become less about the rapids, and more about the whole experience of spending days and nights on a river. Interacting with the river, natural surroundings and other people on the trip can be a simple joy.

If you have done one or more half or full day trips, then we would advise you to seriously look at really getting to know a river on a multi day river trip.  River Valley offer a number of trips of this type.

Important Points to Consider and Remember

  • Be honest about your own fitness and ability
  • Be clear about what you want out of your trip - scenery, excitement, time out
  • Be informed about the risks

Why Us and Why You?


Whether you prefer your adventures to have some depth, or be adrenaline based blasts over the top, will this operator be the one you trust to deliver what you want?

With 3 generations of New Zealand river running experience, River Valley can deliver the type of trip you need.

To view all River Valley White Water Rafting Trips please click here.  For a more focused search, use the search function on the left of this page.

Enjoy your time on the river, be careful, and be prepared to become hooked!  It is a great place to be.

Kelly Judkins - rafting testimonial What the hell a bleached blonde princess of 44 with a knee injury was doing contemplating a Grade 5 river rafting trip was completely beyond me. 

Peer pressure and a New Years Eve rash promise was the main cause, but following through with it was proving to change me into a fully fledged diva who was scared shitless and ready to bolt at first opportunity!

Kelly Judkins - To read more of Kelly's comments, click here


The Guys on the Rafts, their maneuvering down the rapids was so skillful, the camaraderie and hints were so welcome

"Hi Brian / Guys and the rest of the Team,

So many thanks for a fantastic time.  The Guys on the Rafts, their manoeuvring down the rapids was so skillful, the camaraderie and hints were so welcome, the fabulous meals and the horsemanship of that wonderful lady up on the hill. 

What a holiday and we just want to come backā€¦..and bring more friends.  I could rave on and on.

You are the best ever.

Kind regards

Keith, Mary Manderson and the crew."


River Valley stands out in my memory as the best white water rafting experience of my life.

A quote from 'The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand',


The river corridor you operate in needs no mention, as superheroes are spoken of by first names.

Yo all,

Then on to the Rangitikei, old mates, new games, sunrises on the couch, beer, and the mighty free-flowing canyon of fun.

I dare not attempt to name all we came across in the valley, so know that your personalities and idiosyncratic idiocies were individually appreciated in a generous manner.

Your team working together did resemble a fluid and well oiled clock, however unassisted by the Swiss precision on hand.

The kitchen staff deserve special mention as the food was solidly well more than respectable......All xxxxxxxxxx did was a barbeque........but we shant stoop so low as to compare now will we, as the maintenance of a solid level of professionalism permeating this message is of the utmost importance and imperative to the success of the task.

The river corridor you operate in needs no mention, as superheroes are spoken of by first names.

The nature of the operation running inside of that particular environment lends credence as to the standard your Senior Guides are operating at.

It was a pleasure to run a river that reflected the aspects of an expedition trip through a daily run stretch of river.

As the wish of a humble trainer is for the student to exceed the teacher, if your trainees were to raise the bar above the flood line I would feel privileged to learn from them.

Nick Gambino
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By Water or By Land, three Generations of Guides since 1982
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