New Zealand Trip Ideas?

My wife and I will be in New Zealand starting in mid february and are looking for some trip ideas. We will be flying in and out of Christchurch so prefer the south island, but may consider going up to the north. Not sure how long we will stay, depends on what trips we do. We have both visited many times and done a fair amount of tramping, as well as some kayaking, but this will be our first trip with packrafts.

We are open to any suggestions. Our ideal trip would involve 1. walking on tracks, 2. staying in huts, 3. relatively mellow water (class II whitewater or less). As I said we are open to any suggestions, but one of the advantages of tramping in NZ versus here in Alaska is the great hut system and tracks.

In addition has anyone done the whanganui journey in a packraft? I have wanted to paddle it for years and figured since I was bringing the boat anyhow it would be a good opportunity. Any options there for incorporating some walking in or out, or will it just be a raft trip?


Some suggestions:

1)Walk into the upper Karamea, and float out down to the Leslie R, and then walk out along the Whangapeka . The Karamea below the Roaring Lion has the major rapids in it.
2)Nelson Lakes Nat Park - the D’Urville R looks a good float. The Travers would also be fine. The Sabine runs through a very deep gorge.
3)Something involving the Dart/Rees R’s around Queenstown.

Roman Dial’s done some good sounding trips in NZ - look in this forum, or search youtube under packrafting, new zealand, and you’ll find some video.

There is a huge facility for rafting in NZ.

Andrew Allan

Thanks for the info! All of those look like good options.


I’ll be in New Zealand Jan 29th - Feb 26th on the South Island kayaking & pack rafting, although I’m looking to do some creeking & big water pack rafting so see what these little guys can handle. If you’re down there we should hook up & do a run or two.

NZ is made for packrafting. You don’t have to look far. Enjoy every opportunity.

I’m rafting the lower ?15km of the Kaamea from the Ugly to the sea on the 23 Jan after our wilderness fly fishing trip. Roman rafted a whole swag of the Karamea, and found it amazing, and somewhat overwhelming, although he was doing a solo trip.

Have fun.


Like Tim I’ll be in NZ hoping to packraft, but earlier, from Jan 7 to Feb 9. Would like to see you there Andrew…maybe we can paddle together?

Hi Roman,

Lucky old you having a month there! My schedule is a little tighter!

I’ll email you rather than share it all with everyone else, but there might be a narrow window there.


Cool to see so many others headed to NZ in the next couple months. I should be down there myself for some prafting and such. If anyone wants to meetup, let me know!

I just came back from a camping trip in Karamea on the West Coast. We walked the first day of the Heaphy Track up as far as the Gunner River. I put in and rafted downstream for a couple of Ks before meeting a massive headwind as the river turned tidal. As it turned out it wasn’t really worth carrying the raft all that way for such a short paddle, and I was also feeling a bit nervous about losing my raft and tramping gear as I was paddling solo. But I was just being a woos.

I think a really good, and cruisy, trip would be to walk the Heaphy Track from the Golden Bay side, then put in as soon as you get down to the Heaphy River at Lewis Hut. It wouldn’t take long to get down from there to Heaphy Hut, but would be nice and easy. The walk out from Heaphy Hut is lovely.

Just finished the Hollyford-Big Bay-Pyke route. Perfect trip. Mainly class 1-2 with the exception of big rapid 1 hour down from the Hidden falls hut, There’s a well used portage on the right side. We took ten days(weathered in for two at big bay) but can be done a lot quicker. Big bay to Olivine Hut 3hrs hike 3.5 float. Hope this helped.

Whanganui makes a nice trip in packrafts. Day 3-5 the river slows down a bit.

nzspen and captainmorgan - ??Aussies or do we at last have some kiwis adding to the forum??

Thanks for all the great info, it looks like I will have to extend my trip…

I’m excited to hear that so many packrafters are heading to New Zealand! I’ve been here since last July attending graduate school at the University of Auckland and looking for people to go on trips with. I’ve headed out on a few road accessible runs with the Auckland University Canoe Club to include
• Tongariro River (North Island-NI)—Access 10,13,&14—this is a dam flow release run though beautiful country and with very difficult rapids up to class IV
• Kaituna River (NI)—upper river—this runs begins easy, but then reaches two large waterfalls, which are difficult (impossible?) to land in a packraft, though I tried twice
• Hawea River (SI)—easy class II run out of the lake, but lots of Didymo here
• Arahura River (SI)—lower river—very scenic and beautiful class II run, which could be combined with a walk to make a great trip

I’ll be on the South Island available to packraft until the end of the month (January). After then I will be based out of Auckland and available for trips on the weekends until June when I fly home to Alaska. If anyone is interested in hitting up some runs let me know. My mobile number is 021-5050-36.

Regards, Erik

Erik-- PM sent.

I’m planning to be on the south island from Jan. 24th until June. Like the above poster I’m doing some schooling down there, but more than anything I want to get out in the bush. If anyone’s interested in a meetup send a message!


Here’s a compilation video of West Coast, S Island rivers (Hokitika, Arahura, Landsborough, Taipo, Oparara, Mokihinui) we ran in January 2010:

May give some body some kind of NZ trip ideas…like me for instance: stuff I’d like to go back and do again!

Hi andrewallan et al

Yes a kiwi (Wellington) but not by birth!

I paddled days 3-5 of the Whanganui the other day with my folks who were visiting from England. I was in a Canadian half the time and a kayak the other half. It’s a great river and would be fun to packraft in the right conditions. I was going to but it was $75 for transport only from National Park and $150 for 3-4 day kayak hire so in the end, left the packraft at home, as some part of my brain thought the kayak hire too cheap to turn down. It was a good job actually because (a recurring theme lately) we hit a big southerly wind and the last day is very flat - I would have been going backwards in the alpaca.

I’m up for some easy day/weekend trips in the lower north island, but I am a novice and get scared every time I get in the water (never mind watching that awesome video) so I need to harden up a bit! If you are tolerant of such un-kiwi behaviour drop me a line :slight_smile:

A little late to the discussion but am keen to do trips with others also.

I live in Auckland and have been down sections (some as overnighters) of the Tongariro, Ngaruroro and Whakapapa in the central North Island and keen to do more (including SI as opportunties arise). Have plenty of ideas for trips - most include taking my fly rod! Day-trips and (extended) weekend trips suit me better than longer ones due to family committments, but would consider most options. Cheers.