Follow the Pacific Coast Highway out of Auckland and within three hours you will enter a land of blue skies, balmy temperatures, sparkling seas and sweeping landscapes.

The Bay of Plenty was well named by Captain Cook. Its abundant sunshine, surf, sand and unspoiled natural environment make it a mecca for holidaymakers.

‘The Coast with the Most’ offers oceanic encounters with dolphins and an active volcano (White Island), along with diving, fishing, swimming and surfing.

This peaceful corner of New Zealand can also boast some of the best raging whitewater action in the country. The Wairoa River flowing into the Bay of Plenty near Tauranga, is one of the top ten most popular rafting and kayaking rivers in the North Island. The put in is at McLaren Falls and what follows is a wet, wild and wonderful ride in very technical Grade 3 – 5 rapids, including Mother’s Nightmare, Devil’s Elbow and The Rollercoaster.

The Kaituna River is perfect for rafters seeking a short, swift blast of extreme Grade 5 whitewater. The river drains Lake Rotoiti, and is located 20 minutes north-east of Rotorua. It plunges down a narrow, twisting gorge and cascades over a 7 metre high waterfall – the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. What a rush!

The section of the Rangataiki River above Murupara offers a world class day trip that is guaranteed to give you multiple sensations of fear, fascination, fulfilment and fun. The put in is on Ngahuinga Road off Kiorenui Road in the Kaingaroa Forest and the take out is on Otupiri Road through a clearing. The highlights are several Grade 3, boulder strewn, rock garden rapids, and the challenging Grade 4 triple chute known as Jeff’s Joy.

Check out the Tarawera River’s bizarre course below the outlet at Lake Tarawera. Some 3 km downstream, the entire river disappears into underground surge chambers only to emerge as a cascade erupting from the side of a vertical rock face. The river can be run from 10 km below the Tarawera Falls down to the township of Kawerau and offers good Grade 2 and 3 rapids.

Trips on the Bay of Plenty rivers can be arranged with rafting companies based in Rotorua and Auckland. These rivers are massively popular with both rafters and kayakers, so don’t miss out on this big action attraction.