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"To us, trips feel like we're out doing the things we love with a group of good friends and that's exactly how it is at Hidden Valleys."
- Grant South (Southy)

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Waiau River

North Canterbury Whitewater Rafting trip – Grade 2-3

Rafting doesn’t come much better than this!

The headwaters of the Waiau flow from mountains in the Lewis Pass region, joining the Hope River on the eastern side of the Lewis Pass, where it flows towards Hanmer Springs. The river passes through several stunning gorges and open valleys, with small to medium Grade 2-3 rapids. The exception to this is ‘The Narrows’, a short gorge with Grade 3-4+ rapids at the entrance. If you’d rather, there is an option to take a short hike and re-board the rafts after this section.

The Waiau offers something for everyone. With a surprise around every corner, the river provides a great trip for an outdoors oriented family or a group of friends or workmates. There is the option to either hike in or take a jaw dropping helicopter ride.

This is the second trip we have been on with Hidden Valleys, the first being the Clarence River December last year. That experience got us hooked! This year it was the Waiau River – another outstanding trip, We can’t speak highly enough of the guides; Slee, Eli, Syd, Johnnie, and Dan. They were simply outstanding. While the scenery is as good as it gets in the New Zealand mountain lands, the care the guides took of us and our fellow rafters was awesome. The guides were great cooks, mighty “camp mothers”, knowledgeable on flora, fauna and geology, entertainers and just pure fun to be around. Their skill on the water and safety measures adopted in grade 3 and 4 rapids was reassuring for the more apprehensive in our group. The Waiau River had a little more white water than expected, but the professionalism of your team gave everyone the confidence to smash out the hard stuff. I know Kaye’s, being visually impaired, was very grateful for the care that Eli and Johnnie took to make sure she didn’t take a tumble. A big thanks to Slee and his mighty team –we’ll be back next year to take on another of your rivers!

Lawrie and Kaye Halkett


  • Three day trip: (Fly-in) Adults: $1850, Children: $1450
  • Three day trip: (4WD-in) Adults: $1650, Children: $1250
  • Three day trip: (Ada Pass hike-in guided) Adults: $2050
  • Three day trip: (Ada Pass hike-in, self guided) Adults: $1450

General info

  • Ability: A reasonable standard of fitness and confidence in water is required: a minimum age may apply.
  • Accommodation & Getting There: We can arrange all your transport and accommodation requirements.
  • Departure Dates: Season from October to start of April.

Enjoy river rafting trips in New Zealand’s North Canterbury region with Hidden Valleys.