Packrafting in New Zealand

In December of 2006 I spent ten fantastic days packrafting in New Zealand. By myself with a rental car I was limited to shorter loops and out and backs. Exploring around Arthur’s Pass, The West Coast, and Queens Town I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. New Zealands austral summers, great hospitality, wild landscapes, and abundance of roadless rivers makes for a pack rafting paradise.

For more details check out

Some lovely photos, and you certainly chose some good rivers for rafting.

I fish in NZ each Jan, and last year took a packraft as a means of getting downstream at the end of the days fishing, and it was a real hoot, except for an involuntary swim early on in the trip when I side swiped a large boulder and tipped out. We fished the Glaisnock and Worsley rivers in Fiordland, and although not the most exciting rafting prospects, were fun enough, particularly the Glaisnock after some heavy rain.

Am off into one of the Karamea tributaries next Jan, where I’ve fished a few times, and very much looking forward to rafting it - have previously liloed bits of it, but it was very cold!

Packrafts seem unknown in Australia - when I purchased mine, neither the chap who imports most of the rafts to Melbourne, nor one of our main kayaking shops had heard of them.

The kiwis have pretty perfect rivers for packrafting, so I imagine it is more likely to catch on over there - there was an article I heard of in one of the NZ mags about a chap packrafting the d’Urville R in Nelson Lakes Nat Park, but that’s really all I came across.

Some photos of packrafting in Fiordland from Jan 07 are on

Peggy and I are heading to NZ for the month of December. Hopefully we’ll have our big boat and a couple decked boats.

Any advice of what to do?

We’re thinking of a long traverse from Arthur Pass Nat’l Park to Mt Cook area (linking big braided rivers with dry mountain passes) and then on over to Landsborough River (portaging the nastiness) and out to Haast as a couple weeks trip. During the 2001 Eco-Challenge I travelled a bit of this route and it looked great for Alaska-style packrafting.

We’re also thinking of going with our daughter to do the the Hollyford Track-Pykes R. loop, which turns a 2 day 'shwack into a 6 hour float (

I’d like to do a classic West Coast steep creek or two for fun, too. Perth River may be too big and steep for me? Any ideas out there?

Roman - I would continue to pursue any folks or contacts you have in the NZAC. They are a wide, varied and involved club and will no doubt have someone to point you in the right direction.

Looks like some great trips you have scoped already.