The lower North Island is characterised by prosperous farming along the western coastal plains and the expansive hill country sheep stations on the Wairarapa Coast.

Numerous rivers flow out of the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges that form part of the rugged backbone of the North Island. They flow swiftly across the fertile alluvial plains and act as a big drawcard for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Manawatu River bisects the two mountain ranges flowing eastwards and carrying a myriad of thrill-seekers on rafts, kayaks, canoes and jet boats through the Gorge between Woodhill and the bright city life of Palmerston North.

The Rangitikei River whitewater run from Matawhero Road (on the Napier-Taihape Road) down to the quarry at Pukeokahu is rated as one of the top ten North Island whitewater trips. It is a Grade 4 – 5 world class adventure with awesome scenery, crystal clear trout pools and jaw dropping rapids like The Arch, Max’s Drop, Dogleg and Fulcrum. Commercial rafting companies based in Taihape are ready to introduce you to this superb whitewater entertainment.

The Whangaehu River is also counted among the top ten North Island trips. The upper reaches remain unpredictable as they flow from the Mt Ruapehu crater lake. The normal put in is at the bridge where Mangaehuehu Stream enters the river. The first stretch requires rainfall for its continuous set of lively rapids to perform well. The most popular run is the outstanding section from Tokiahuru Stream to Collier’s Bridge. With above average flows the rapids are Grade 3 – 4 with tight, big boulder chutes and drops. The take out is where Field’s Track meets Whangaehu Valley Road.

The Hutt River offers Grade 3 water with above average flows. The put in is the Kaitoke dam and the take out is at Te Marua on S.H.2.

Further up the west coast Otaki River gorge can generate tension and excitement with the sound and motion of its unpredictable Grade 2 rapids. The put in is at the end of the access road and the take out at the main highway. Commercial rafting operators are based in Lower Hutt.

If you yearn for the sound of distant rapids, and the strident cry ‘Hold On’ as you plunge into a frenzied flurry of whitewater, then there’s excitement aplenty just north of our Capital City.