Clarence River Rafting

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Clarence River Rafting

Imagine how different the world would look if all our roads were rivers, and getting to where you wanted to go involved rafting there! The Clarence Rafting Trip is a journey from the mountains to the sea, following nature’s own highway, the Clarence River.

The Clarence River multi-day river rafting journey is just that; a 4-night, 5-day expedition that embraces a genuine feel for the rough, untouched country situated between Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura. The river is fun, without being intimidating to anyone shy of white water rafting, with broken, smaller rapids of Grades 2 and 3.

From put-in, near the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs, our team expertly guides you for the next 200+ kms, until you reach the take-out north of the seaside town, Kaikoura, renowned for its whale watching, seal colonies and mouth watering crayfish.

The Clarence River starts as a stream, winding its way from the midst of the Spencer Mountain, before the flow gradually increases as we paddle and drift by the changing scenery towards the East Coast of the South Island. The open tussock-lands of Molesworth Station gradually fade into the manuka covered hills of the Clarence Scenic Reserve and Bluff Stations. After travelling a fun-filled five days, we pass the seaward Kaikoura Mountain Ranges and the Pacific Ocean comes into view.

This is a truly classic multi-day New Zealand rafting trip on one of the most picturesque Grade 2 and 3 rafting rivers.  This is an ideal river for first timers.

A Typical Journey On The Clarence -

We recommend you spend the night prior to the trip in Hanmer Springs, where you can soak and relax in the hot pools of this superb alpine resort town. The put-in for the rafting trip is then just a short drive the next morning.

Alternatively, you may camp at the Clarence River put-in, and get an extra night out in the wilderness.

DAY 1 -

We start the morning with a 45 minute drive over Jacks Pass from the township of Hanmer, into the Clarence Valley. After following the Clarence downstream to the junction of the Acheron River, we reach the last point of civilisation. As the road veers off in the direction of Molesworth Station Homestead, we head in the opposite direction to visit the first of four gorges, where your gourmet lunch will be prepared.

We aim to be on the river by lunchtime, stopping for afternoon tea where time and place dictate. The afternoon is spent amongst the rugged rock faces of the gorge, then ends at a glorious campsite, set beneath willow trees.

DAY 2 -

After enjoying breakfast and packing up camp, we pack up the rafts and head off for early start getting most of the days rafting in by lunch, for a relaxing afternoon by the campside, swimming and playing games.

DAY 3 -

New Zealand’s second highest mountain in the South Island, Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku, plays hide and seek with us, as we wind in and out of its view. Some nice wetting waves, some open countryside and an evening camp under the shadows of the two highest peaks in the Kaikoura ranges, complete a spellbinding day on the river.

DAY 4 -

A day of rafting through the grand canyon of New Zealand! The river winds around many corners, letting you take in the true character of the Kaikoura Ranges. There are many manuka flats throughout the day: perfect spots for eating lunch and stretching legs. At the end of the day, the sheltered flats provide us with an idyllic campsite.

DAY 5 -

After rounding a couple of major bends, the landscape opens up to the farmland of the Kaikoura Coast. We’re greeted by stretches of flat water early on, before embracing continuous wave action in the last few kms as we near the sea around midday/early afternoon. Yes, one of the few river tours of the world that finishes at the sea! After your Clarence River unwind, take in the many sights of Kaikoura, before travelling home, with your totally refreshed body and mind: bliss!


A reasonable standard of fitness and be confident in water, minimum age may apply.

Photo courtesy Hidden Valleys NZ

Contact us
Itrek Customer Service
Tel: +64 21 268 8879
NZ local time is 10:13 AM
Key information

Location: East on the South Island

Open: October - April

Duration: 5 days / 4 nights

Group Size: 7 per raft

Grade: Rapid grades 2 and 3

Accommodation: Campsites

Luggage: Carried in water tight containers on rafts

Meals: All provided

Price NZD $1400 per person


Clarence river Gallery