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Kawarau River Tours

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40 Reviews
Kawarau River
Not far from Queenstown, Kawarau River offers a variety of thrill-seeking possibilities including jet boating, whitewater rafting, and riverboarding. Alternatively, visitors can go off-road into the surrounding hills during an all-terrain quad bike tour or try bungee jumping from the Kawarau Suspension Bridge. There’s something for history buffs too, who come to check out the gold-miners’ huts and relics from the river’s gold-rush days.

The Basics
Whitewater rafting on the Kawarau River offers Class II and III rapids suitable for beginners but exciting enough for adrenaline seekers. High-speed jet boat adventures begin across Lake Wakatipu, with close-up views of spectacular scenery throughout the rugged Kawarau Gorge. Visitors looking to try riverboarding (or sledging as it’s called in New Zealand) can use a purpose-built board to skim waves and whirlpools in the Roaring Meg section of the river. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The region is a must-visit for nature lovers and water-sports enthusiasts.
  • Tours, activities, and day trips most often include hotel pickup and drop-off.
  • Remember to dress for variable weather, bring sturdy footwear, and wear sun protection.

How to Get There
The river is a short drive from Queenstown and Arrowtown, and plenty of tour groups will shuttle you to the river if you book an activity with them. Since Lake Wakatipu empties into the Kawarau River, jet boat rides and other excursions often set out from the lakeshore.

When to Get There
Water-sports enthusiasts flock to the region during spring and especially summer (September–February), putting popular river tours in high demand. In autumn (March–May), the rocky slopes surrounding the Kawarau River turn brilliant shades, and skies tend toward clear blue. Winter sees snow, but most tours run year-round. Bridge activities operate daily.

Bike Riding and Wine Tasting
The Gibbston Valley wine region, tucked between the gorge and schist hills, can be reached via shuttle or bike rental from nearby Queenstown or Arrowtown. More than a half dozen wineries serve award-winning pinot noir, and offer a chance to relax with a winery tour and tasting. A moderate-level bike route parallels the emerald ribbon of winding water, with plenty of scenic picnic spots and photo ops along the way.  
Address: Queenstown, New Zealand
Admission: Free
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16 Tours and Activities to Experience Kawarau River

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Kawarau River Jet-RaftDay Trips

Kawarau River Jet-Raft

star-5
Experience the best of the Kawarau River with two of Queenstown’s most iconic adventures – jet boating and whitewater rafting! Race down the Kawarau River before your skilled driver sends you from high speeds into a 360-degree spin. Continue the excitement with your Kawarau rafting adventure. This grade 2-3 rafting trip is perfect for first time rafters, families and groups. It provides a great taste of whitewater action with plenty of opportunities to splash around, try a cliff jump or even swim through a rapid! The grande finale is the unforgettable 400 metre Dog Leg Rapid which ends your trip on New Zealand’s largest volume commercially rafted river. Includes: • Jet boat down the Kawarau River Canyons • Whitewater rafting down the Kawarau River • Full wetsuit clothing and rafting equipment • Hot showers at the rafters lodge • Courtesy coach transfers
...  More
  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$171.06 
From  
US$171.06 
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown 60 minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau RiversJet Boating

Queenstown 60 minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers

star-4.5
Experience heart-racing fun on an exhilarating Queenstown jet-boat ride. The expert captain races across Lake Wakatipu, navigates tricky turns on the Kawarau River and speeds through the milky waters of the Shotover River. Grab hold of your seat as the jet boat makes 360-degree spins and fishtails on a rollercoaster ride over the water.
...  More
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$74.20 
From  
US$74.20 
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Lord of the Rings 4WD Tour (Half-Day)Half-day Tours

Lord of the Rings 4WD Tour (Half-Day)

star-5
Enjoy an off-road adventure in the wild of New Zealand on this half-day Wakatipu Basin 4-wheel drive tour from Queenstown. Cruise along off-road routes toward the Remarkables mountain range — widely used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Admire panoramic views over Deer Park Heights and the Kawarau Gorge, and then head onward to the historic gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown. Traverse bumpy river crossings along the Arrow River, and pan for gold on the riverbank. Then gaze over the Wakatipu Basin from Coronet Peak en route back to Queenstown.
...  More
  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$157.09 
From  
US$157.09 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown 25-minute Jet Boat Jet Boating

Queenstown 25-minute Jet Boat

star-5
Go Orange offers you an electric ride. Filled with speed, thrills and even more of those famous 360 degree spins. Hold on as we race faster than ever before down Lake Wakatipu. We will get you up close and personal with the lakes edge, skimming past trees and any obstacles in our way and be sure to hold on to your hats as we navigate under not one, but two bridges at speed. Great for families, we can take as young as two years old! Our experience is champion in the jet boat game and we can’t wait to give you the ride of your life.
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  • 25 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$40.16 
From  
US$40.16 
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  • 25 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown - Arrowtown Sightseeing and Tasting Half-Day Small-Group TourWine Tastings

Queenstown - Arrowtown Sightseeing and Tasting Half-Day Small-Group Tour

star-5
Get to know Queenstown's highlights, history, culture, and scenery on this half-day tour. With a small group limited to just 11 people or fewer, travel in a minivan to locales such as Lake Hayes, Arrowtown, Lord of the Rings locations, a Honey farm and do cheese tasting. Pickup and drop-off in central Queenstown included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$68.95 
From  
US$68.95 
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  • 4 hours
  • Taking safety measures

Half Day Bike Tour of Arrow River TrailNature and Wildlife

Half Day Bike Tour of Arrow River Trail

star-4.5
Cycle alongside the Arrow and Kawarau rivers during a half-day bike excursion. You’re transferred from Queenstown for an easy off-road mountain bike ride that covers approx. 9 miles (15 km) over flat terrain. Take advantage of a detailed trail map and a support vehicle available while you ride independently. Cross several suspension bridges including the Kawarau Bridge, famous for its bungy jumping, and enjoy wine tasting at Gibbston Valley Winery. Hotel pickup available for morning tours only.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$94.62 
From  
US$94.62 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Queenstown Private Quad Bike Explorer TourHalf-day Tours

Queenstown Private Quad Bike Explorer Tour

star-5
With soaring peaks, rugged trails, and spectacular countryside scenery, Queenstown is the undisputed home of outdoor adventure on New Zealand’s South Island. On this adrenaline-pumping tour, hit the gas and experience high-octane thrills by quad bike. Zoom through the backcountry wilderness with your guide, and tackle challenging hill climbs and creek crossings between the Kawarau River and the Nevis mountain range—with trails selected to suit your skill level.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$149.08 
From  
US$149.08 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown Classic Wine Tour - All Tastings, Cheese & Glass of WineWine Tastings

SPECIAL OFFER

Queenstown Classic Wine Tour - All Tastings, Cheese & Glass of Wine

star-5
Spend an afternoon tasting New Zealand wines and taking in the scenery of Central Otago on a half-day tour from Queenstown. Your guide takes you to three wineries for tastings and a wine cave tour, with sightseeing at Lord of the Rings film sites and other top attractions along the way. Includes wine tastings, afternoon tea, and hotel pickup and drop-off.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$106.19 
US$118.00
US$11.81 savings
From  
US$106.19 
US$118.00
US$11.81 savings
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Queenstown Private Quad Bike AdventureHalf-day Tours

Queenstown Private Quad Bike Adventure

star-5
For your next activity in the proclaimed ‘Adventure Capital of the World,’ set out for Queenstown’s off-road terrain aboard a Suzuki sports quad, led by an expert guide. You’ll bump along dirt-bike tracks with creek crossings and hill climbs boasting spectacular views, from the Kawarau River up into the mountains of the Kawarau Gorge. Each tailor-made tour runs with a select small group based on skill level, guaranteeing both beginning and advanced riders an exhilarating 1.5-hour ride.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$196.73 
From  
US$196.73 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown 1-hour Jet Boat Lake Wakatipu and Kawarau RiverJet Boating

Queenstown 1-hour Jet Boat Lake Wakatipu and Kawarau River

star-4
Go Orange offers you an electric ride. Filled with speed, thrills and even more of those famous 360 degree spins. Hold on as we race faster than ever before down Lake Wakatipu and onto the beautifully scenic Kawarau River. Be sure to hold on to your hats as we navigate under not one, but two bridges at speed and skim the river edges with precision. Great for families, we can take as young as two years old. Our experience is champion in the jet boat game and we can’t wait to give you the ride of your life.
...  More
  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$53.78 
From  
US$53.78 
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation

Queenstown - Mt Cook Day TourDay Trips

Queenstown - Mt Cook Day Tour

Enjoy a fully guided tour from Queenstown to the majestic Aoraki/Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) and the surrounding area. This tour is not to be missed, featuring the Southern Alps, stunning lakes, adventure, history, myths, and more.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$158.61 
From  
US$158.61 
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Helicopter and Shotover River Rafting Combo from QueenstownDay Trips

Helicopter and Shotover River Rafting Combo from Queenstown

star-4.5
Combine two exciting Queenstown adventures on a half-day 'helirafting' tour that explores the region by air and water. Board a helicopter for a scenic flight to the white-water rafting launch site, cruise above the rock walls and blue water of Skippers Canyon, then land on a river-side beach. Next, suit up for a challenging white-water rafting trip down the Shotover River, taking on a series of rapids that flow through high cliffs and chutes.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$247.86 
From  
US$247.86 
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Skippers Canyon - Professional Photography & Exclusive Guided 4WD Tour Half-day Tours

Skippers Canyon - Professional Photography & Exclusive Guided 4WD Tour

The Skippers Road is a historic route we travel via 4WD. Built during the gold rush we drive high above the Kawerau River giving you a historic context of what life was like for the original settlers of Skippers Canyon, sharing stories, tales and showing you relics from the past.
...  More
  • 4 hours 30 minutes
From  
US$927.27 
per group
From  
US$927.27 
per group
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes

Bike Hire in QueenstownBike Rentals

Bike Hire in Queenstown

We have a great range of bikes for hire. Mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, electric bikes, fat bikes, kids’ bikes, ladies’ bikes, bikes with baby seats and even a bicycle made for two! We offer low prices, friendly service and a welcoming atmosphere. A great affordable store for families, groups, friends or parties.
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    From  
    US$17.46 
    From  
    US$17.46 
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      Queenstown Highlights - Half Day Tour - Arrowtown, Winery, bungy, Farm visit. Wine Tastings

      Queenstown Highlights - Half Day Tour - Arrowtown, Winery, bungy, Farm visit.

      There’s so many reasons to choose Queenstown Highlights. See Queenstown’s 5 best sights and activities in one very affordable fun packed morning. Group sizes are small, vehicles are luxurious, friendly local driver-guides plus hotel pick ups all ensure that Queenstown Highlights is the best tour on offer. Family friendly option.
      ...  More
      • 3 hours
      • Free Cancellation
      From  
      US$68.07 
      From  
      US$68.07 
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      • 3 hours
      • Free Cancellation

      Million Dollar CruiseDay Cruises

      Million Dollar Cruise

      star-4.5
      Explore Lake Wakatipu by boat on a 1.5-hour cruise from Queenstown. As you travel to the end of the lake, you can see stunning lakeside homes, a variety of bird life, Kawarau Dam, and the magnificent scenery that surrounds Queenstown. Get unobstructed views from the sundeck or stay warm in the heated cabin, and have the option to purchase drinks from the onboard bar.
      ...  More
      • 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Free Cancellation
      From  
      US$34.21 
      From  
      US$34.21 
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      • 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Free Cancellation

      Frequently Asked Questions

      The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
      Q:
      What's the best way to experience Kawarau River?

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      Book online or call
      (888) 651-9785
      (888) 651-9785