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Turangi's White Water Rafting Marries Adventure With Conservation

Let your inner adrenaline junkie loose on the Tongariro River.
By Keely Allen
January 25, 2019
By Keely Allen
January 25, 2019

Let your inner adrenaline junkie loose on the Tongariro River with one of Rafting New Zealand's white water rafting tours.

Throughout the Turangi-based experience, you're not only taking in the winding waters but also being immersed in Aotearoa's lush green nature. Part of the proceeds from all Rafting New Zealand tours and merchandise is put towards the preservation of the iconic Tongariro landscape to allow future generations to appreciate the beauty. Rafting New Zealand, the RNZ Preservation Fund and Project Tongariro work together on the conservation initiative.

Rafting New Zealand has also recently partnered with Lake Rotoaira Forest Trust of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa iwi in an effort to lift the tourist numbers from 12,000 per year to 30,000 by 2022, a positive move that more than doubles the contributions to the land. This partnership is also significant as the iwi's first active tourism investment, which in turn invests in Turangi and Tūwharetoa people.

The Tongariro White Water Rafting tour consists of over 60 rapids of varying intensity. The names of each key rapid were colourfully devised from both previous incidents and the impact on the rafting experience. The anxiety-inducing names include the Cheese Grater, Leg Breaker, Earthquake Gully, Rock Garden, The Bitch, Helter Skelter, Pin Ball and Pile Up.

The route is classified as grade three, meaning it is considered an intermediate undertaking. There are several rocky areas that make for exciting rapids, which are interspersed with several minutes of smooth waters to give guests a moment to catch their breath. The grading scale goes from one to five, and the river guides insist that the higher the grade, the higher the consequences, and the more work goes in to ensuring you stay afloat.

Full gear is provided, with guests only needing to bring towels and togs. The gear includes a cosy fleece top to be worn under a wetsuit, water-resistant jacket, water shoes, helmet and life jacket. The water is icy year-round, meaning the gear is required to keep you both safe and warm, even in the summer.

All guests are split into groups of up to six people, accompanied by a guide to lead you along the river. The guide takes you through the commands and allows the team to learn each paddling motion for a few minutes before tackling the first rapid. It's imperative the group moves in unison to ensure safety during harsher rapids and enhance the overall experience.

Guide Jess Porteous has been working at the Turangi-based site for over two years, and although there have been times where she has suffered broken bones on the route, she has never had an overboard incident or serious injury with any of her tour guests. The entire tour is well planned and meticulously managed by the guides, ensuring safety is the top priority. Even the rafts predominantly used are larger in size, which are more stable to limit the chance of flipping.

Guests are guaranteed two hours on the 14-kilometre river route, with complementary hot chocolate mid-way through the river and a hot dog and bevvy back at base camp.

The Tongariro White Water Rafting tour runs year-round, and is a half-day, four-hour experience suitable for those 10 and up. In the summer peak season, the tour runs three times a day.

Rafting New Zealand's Turangi base is located at 41 Ngawaka Place. 

Published on January 25, 2019 by Keely Allen


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