Pull on a wetsuit and helmet, then launch your raft onto a fast-flowing river for the spine-tingling, heart-pounding ride of a lifetime.

The wild West Coast has numerous short, steep rivers descending from the high country in the Southern Alps. Many are completely untouched by humans and offer unsurpassed views of snow-capped peaks and glaciers. Fly into the headwaters by helicopter, launch your raft, and suddenly the river becomes a magic carpet carrying your rafting party effortlessly through dense forests and deep gorges, to reveal amazing wilderness areas.

New Zealand has some of the best rafting locations in the world. There are 1,500 rivers suitable for rafting and kayaking with a wide variety of landscapes and eco-systems. Around 40 of these rivers are used for commercial rafting, generally for short duration trips of 2-3 hours but with numerous multi-day float trips on offer as well.

Raft tours operate on the Landsborough, Whataroa, Okarito, Waikukapa, Perth, Whitcomb, Hokitika, Grey, Buller, Arnold and Wanganui rivers. The Landsborough is the longest river on the West Coast and for most of its 70 km length, passes through virgin wilderness. A full-length journey on this river takes 5 days and allows ample time to explore the bush around each campsite.

Greymouth has regular short trips on the Arnold and Grey rivers, as well as heli-raft journeys to the southern West Coast rivers. Hokitika has all-day ‘thrill-seeker’ trips using helicopters to access the upper reaches of the steepest rivers. Westport has day trips and multi-day journeys on the Buller and Karamea rivers.

All New Zealand rafting operations are measured against the international white water standards. Grade 1- means a tranquil float trip. Grade 2 – suggests that things will liven up in the rapids. Grade 3 – gets exciting as rafters manoeuvre around obstacles. Grade 4 – means you may be swimming. Grades 5 and 6 – you don’t want to know about, unless you’re an expert.

White-water rafting on a magnificent West Coast river has all the exhilaration and excitement you could desire. As the Kiwis say, ‘Give it a go mate’.