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Rafting on Kaituna River, World’s Highest Rafted Waterfall in New Zealand

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New Zealand is known for it’s extreme activities and sports throughout the country. White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River is one of trips you should not miss on the North Island when you visit Rotorua.

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Don’t let the water splashes and the crashing of the rapids scare you away. Grab your wet suit, helmet, paddle and hope you do not fall out over the Okere Falls, world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall (7-meter drop).

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Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

Not often that you’d get the chance to raft down a class 5 rapids with 7-meter waterfall drop and it was a fortunate for me and my travel buddy, Ryan, to get that experience with River Rats. This wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the tourism office of Rotorua! They worked with me in arranging all fun and unique adventures in Rotorua for me and Ryan.

I’ve done some white water rafting back then. Take the one I had done in Montenegro for instance, but this one beats all.

Surviving the Okere Falls

After receiving our training that taught us all the required paddle commands and safety information, Ryan and I got into our wet suits and strapped on lifejackets. We loaded up the van and headed to the drop in the area of the Kaituna River to begin our adventure.

We just couldn’t wait to get all the hype that we’ve heard about this river, so we hopped into the raft as soon as we were told that it was ready for us.

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new zealand white water rafting on the kaituna river photo 3
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

Before I continue, I want to emphasize that you are in good hands with them. They’re called River Rats for a reason. Keep your eyes out on the guide and other passengers for signals and change of direction in paddling. If they paddle to the right, you paddle to the right. If they get down into the raft, you drop yourself into the raft and hold on to the raft. You get the idea. The guide will communicate what to do and when to do it in advance before you plunge down new rapids.

In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad and we got into the flow of rafting the river, but before we knew it, we faced our first set of class 5 rapids.

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New Zealand: White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

You’ll only have moments to catch your breath as your raft crashes into the water. Your heart starts pumping as you plunge through the rapids.

Throughout the adventure, the guide was awesome and allowed us “rotate” around seats to get the best of our experiences. One point of the rapids, I actually sat on the edge at the front of the raft like bull-riding and bounced along with flow of the raft on one of sets of rapids. I almost got thrown off, but I managed to stay on the raft the entire time. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t so short and lightweight, that way I wouldn’t be thrown off so easily! =P

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New Zealand: White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

Half way down we got to jump out to do some swimming and a bit of cliff jumping where I backflipped. I swear I wasn’t showing off, I love doing that kind of stuff anywhere! It was beyond awesome.

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Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

Anyways, I remember the moment I spotted the edge of the highest waterfall drawing close and the guide alerting us that it was ‘the big fall’. Butterflies start flying around in my stomach. I know I’m adventurous and fearless, but deep down, I was terrified! Not kidding.

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New Zealand: White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

I was in the second row of the rafting, but I just didn’t want to get thrown off. As the raft creeped up with the nose of the raft just starting over the large drop, my heart pumped so hard. It was like time froze on me and it finally hit me… There was no turning back.

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New Zealand: White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

In a blink. we were almost completely vertical plunging down the waterfall. The raft went under, followed by rest of us until we all were entirely submerged. The waterfall mist was spraying into our eyes as we crashed and splashed the waters. We sprang back up to the surface within seconds and then we all turned our heads to each other to make sure we all were still in the raft. Yes, we all were still in the raft (and alive)!

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New Zealand: White Water Rafting on the Kaituna River
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

That drop down the waterfalls definitely got my adrenaline pumping hardcore. I was almost thrown off the raft.

But it was nothing after all… 😉

Final Thoughts

Nothing around the world could match the beauty of the Kaituna River. There’d be large rock cliffs with all kinds of growth over the water way. The water was clear, crisp and really refreshing on a summer day. That 3-hour rafting experience surely got my adrenaline pumping. The river actually took us for a wild ride.

Ryan’s Remarks “The river rats staff made this adventure one of a kind by stopping at core locations along the way such as the ruins where we did a little diving, and letting us put calvin in front where he got the best experience possible. I did quite a few river rafting in the past but the river rats experience obliterated all.”

They offer a range of RaftingKayaking options, other adventures, and more exhilarating activities in and around Rotorua to choose from. Besides, I think it’s pretty clear that I felt safe the whole time, so they’re highly recommended!

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Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking
Photo Courtesy: River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

River Rats Rafting & Kayaking

Ezi Car Rental

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Calvin Young

Calvin Young

Hey buddy! I go by Calvin and I'm a Deaf traveler. I love exploring the world to discover and share amazing stories, useful tips, stunning photographs, jaw-dropping videos and many more with you all! I aim to empower and inspire the Deaf people that they can do anything they want through my travels.

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The river was so magnifi
cent, providing you with the best epic experience of a lifetime. Excellent article.

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