In the late 1800s, the Shotover River was a storied outpost of gold, prospectors, and wilderness. Dust-covered panhandlers would camp in canyons in the foothills of the Southern Alps, and scour the raging, turquoise waters with the hope of striking it rich. Today, adrenaline and adventure have replaced sluicing and straining as the most popular pursuits on the river, as the Shotover has become the aquatic playground of visitors traveling to Queenstown.
Bounce down frothing, blue and white rapids while paddling a whitewater raft, or try not to smile as your cheeks flap wildly on a high-speed jetboat up the river. The Shotover drains into the Kawarau River beneath the famous Kawarau Bridge, and you can dip your hands in the cool waters after bungy-jumping from the historic trestle. Even the drive towards the Shotover River is an outdoor adventure in itself, as the road leading into Skipper’s Canyon is a winding, mountainous time portal.
The Shotover River is located north of Queenstown, and most rafting companies will drive for 40 minutes before putting on the river. When rafting, the Shotover River has larger rapids than the neighboring Kawarau River, and also passes through the 560ft. Oxenbridge Tunnel. It’s considered more advanced than the Kawarau River and all rafters must be able to swim.