For people with limited time, which 1 day rafting experience do we recommend?  

River Valley offer two half day or day rafting trips. The first of these is the half day Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River. If excitement and adrenaline is what you after, then this is the trip for you. This section of river is characterised  by still pools followed by steep technical rapids that require manoeuvring the raft around boulders, over drops, through confused water and down steep chutes.

The second day trip we offer is on a Grade 2 section. The Awesome Scenic Rafting Adventure. Much more relaxed than the trip described above, this trip explores a section of the Rangitikei River characterised by stunning scenery, and beautiful clear pools punctuated with fun Grade 2 rapids. A stop in a beautiful riverside hideaway for a picnic lunch is included.

For people who want to really experience NZ wilderness, which of our multiday experiences do we suggest?

First of all, how many days? We would strongly suggest that you do not do a multiday river trip of less than 3 days. This will include two nights camping on the river. Anything less and you will feel as if you have hardly got started and the trip is over. The magic of a multi day trip is getting in the groove of “river time”. As the river flows, so does each day.

With the above in mind, we would suggest the following:

Rangitikei Headwaters – 4 days in the wilderness. Remote, helicopter in and raft out. Crystal clear pools, Grade 3 rapids, stunning scenery. It is highly unlikely you will share the river with anyone else, other than the occasional fisherman. This is a true wilderness trip.

The Epic Rangitikei – This trip incorporates both the Grade 5 section and the Awesome Scenic Adventure and more. Perfect for a small group of reasonably fit clients.

Mokai Canyon – a 3 day Grade 2 trip departing downstream from River Valley Lodge. Beautiful scenery on this very relaxing trip.

Rangitikei River Explorer – a 5 day Grade 2 river trip departing from River Valley Lodge. Camping on the river each night on the river, while the night prior to departure is spent at River Valley Lodge and the last night at Rathmoy Lodge. Again, a very relaxing trip.

Do you need any previous rafting experience?

You do not need prior rafting experience for any of our trips. However, a reasonable  level of agility and fitness is required for the Grade 5 section.

Will you see many other tourists on the river?

During the main summer season, the Grade 5 section can get quite busy (by our standards – this is not Queenstown!). Expect to be in a group of 10 – 25 people on the river. Even on this trip you are highly unlikely to see anybody else other than those in your group.

On all our other trips we see few if any other people. On a 4 day Rangitikei Headwaters trip last season we only saw 2 fishermen the entire time.

What level of fitness is required?

On all our trips you will get more out of the experience if you have at least an average level of fitness for your age. However you certainly do not need to go into training prior to getting on the water.

What equipment do you need to bring along and what do we provide?

On all our day trips we supply everything except your swimming costume. On the Grade 5 section, we always supply wetsuits, neoprene boots, thermals and paddle jacket, helmet and lifejacket.

For our other trips, some or all of this equipment may be provided depending on weather and time of year.

For multi day trips we send a list of suggested clothing. This is a simple list designed to make sure that you have what you need when on the river and in camp. We supply all camping equipment – tents, thick sleeping pads, plus everything for the camp kitchen. We do like clients to bring their own sleeping bags, but if this is not possible then we can supply.

On our multi day trips, what type of accommodation should you expect?

Many people still have a negative impression of camping, often a hangover from some school experience. However the camping we provide on multi day trips is nothing like that. Good tents, extra thick sleeping pads, chairs and great food make the trip both comfortable and enjoyable.

Many of our trips also include a night in Lodge accommodation  before and sometimes also after the trip.

Given these multi day trips are generally off the beaten track, how does the catering work, what type of food should you expect, and can we cater for special dietary requirements?

Good food is an essential part of any multi day river trip. We provide 2 course breakfasts, picnic style lunches and 3 course dinners. These meals are prepared and cooked by your guides. Food is good quality, fresh and carried with us on the river in chill boxes.

We can cater for various dietary requirements, however it is important to let us know what those requirements are well before departure. Be aware that adventuring in the outdoors on a multi day river trip does sharpen one’s appetite.

Are these trips suitable for families with younger children and is there a minimum age limit?

Each of our trips varies in its suitability for children. The Grade 5 section and the Epic Rangitikei have a minimum age of 13 years, and we would suggest that this is also best for the Rangitikei Headwaters, and the overnight Mountains to Vineyard trip on the Ngaruroro River.

Children as young as 5 years can have a fun time on the Grade 2 Awesome Scenic Adventure. As for the other multi day river adventures, from experience we have found that children really need to be 8 years or older to get the best out of an adventure such this.

How does the grading of the rivers work and should beginners aim for a  lower graded river?

The international grading system goes from Grade (Class) 1 through to Grade 6. The most difficult grade commercially rafted is Grade 5 https:/

Most of our clients on the Grade 5 section have not rafted before, but do have a good average level of fitness. It is this, and a general enthusiasm, that is more important than previous experience.

How far ahead should you plan a multi-day trip?

Try and plan your multi day trip as far ahead as possible, especially if booking a Rangitikei Headwaters or Rangitikei Explorer trip. Both these trips involve third parties including permission from the NZ Army in the former and availability at Rathmoy Lodge in the latter.

Doing this makes all aspects of planning easier for both you and us.

In saying that, we can make shorter lead in times work, but please check with us first.

What is the best time of year for a rafting trip?

Grade 5 section – any time

Awesome Scenic Adventure – October to end of April

Multi day river trips – while our official season is generally October to the end of March, we would suggest that by November the days are longer and weather warmer. These conditions hold through to mid March, so anytime in that period is normally quite good. This is New Zealand though and we can get periods of rain and cooler temperatures at any time.

The exception to the above is the Mountain to Vineyard trip on the Ngaruroro River. This has a very short season, running from the beginning of October to mid December. After this time there is not enough water in the river.

What training and experience do the guides have?

New Zealand has one of the most comprehensive training and qualification systems for river guides in the world. This system ensures that all guides working in the rafting industry in New Zealand have been trained to a very high standard.

In addition, companies such as us at River Valley will often have our own in house standards. For instance in our case this will ensure that there are always a number of Senior Grade 5 river guides on all trips of Grade 3 or above.

Also, many of these Senior Guides will have anywhere from 5 to 30 years experience. This is a solid and experienced team.

Last and Most Important Question Of All. Why Go Rafting at all?

The most valid and honest answer is, “Go white water rafting to have fun!”

If you have questions that are not answered here, then please contact us and we will do our best to answer them. Other people may also have the same question!

See you on the river.

Brian Megaw


Raft and crew, headwaters of the Rangitikei River, New Zealand

Ryan and crew in the middle of Jigsaw Rapid in the Headwaters of the Rangitikei River, New Zealand.