Challenge Rafting

Planning a trip to Queenstown? You’re heading to a gem of a destination: people travel from far and wide to experience the adrenaline-pumping activities on offer in the Adventure Capital of New Zealand! Invariably, tourists leave Queenstown thrilled and eager for further adventures – and never more so than after they’ve experienced rafting in Queenstown. 

With its great lake and multiple surrounding rivers, Queenstown is well situated for water-based adventures. Because so many Queenstown rivers have whitewater rapids, river rafting has in recent years emerged as a must-do destination experience.

You won’t find a better place in NZ (or maybe the world) to lurch at speed through the choppy waters of the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers. When you choose to do just that with Challenge Rafting, you can rest assured that your rafting experience will be one of your most memorable, exhilarating Queenstown activities.

 Challenge Rafting Queenstown

Six excited people riding on a white-water raft, completely surrounded with foam and spray - photo credit Challenge Rafting Queenstown Facebook page


Challenge Rafting is a Qualmark-accredited operator offering the best Queenstown river rafting trips around, with experiences that combine Queenstown’s gorgeous scenery with a ride fit to rival that of a theme-park rollercoaster. Each tour is headed by professional, friendly guides who’ll explain all you need to know about working with your paddle. When you organise your trip with Challenge Rafting, you’ll have your pick of which half-day Queenstown river-rafting adventure is right for you.

 Kawarau River rafting

Rafters in full gear, walking to the start of an Autumn adventure on the Kawarau River - photo credit Challenge Rafting Queenstown Facebook page


Kawarau River Rafting

Queenstown’s Kawarau River boasts the perfect mix of thundering rapids and calm waters. Because it’s a bigger, deeper river that’s easier to navigate, the Kawarau rafting trip is perfect for first-time rafters and young families. 

 white water rafting Queenstown

Four thrilled rafters and a guide navigating the crashing, icy blue water of Kawarau River - photo credit Challenge Rafting Queenstown Facebook page


On this river, you’ll experience spectacular Central Otago scenery surrounding the watercourse, where parts of the world-famous film trilogy, Lord of the Rings, were filmed – as well as plenty of the whitewater action that adventure rafting is all about. 

On the way, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of stretches of still water to go swimming. To end the trip, you’ll coast the 400m-long Dog Leg Rapid!


Shotover River Rafting

The Shotover River is usually graded at a slightly higher difficulty level than Kawarau, due to the greater force of the rapids on this famous watercourse. Challenge Rafting’s Shotover experience will see you raft some 170m through the Oxenbridge Tunnel and shoot through an exhilarating series of rapids. With names including the Aftershock, Squeeze, and Toilet, the six rapids you’ll be taken through on the Shotover are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

 Shotover River rafting

Rafters rolling down the Shotover River rapids - photo credit Challenge Rafting Queenstown Facebook page


And don’t worry about missing out on views: there’ll be plenty of time to take in the rugged beauty of this historical river and its surrounds. During the warmer months, you’ll get to drive to the Shotover via Skipper’s Canyon – a veritable high-adrenaline experience in itself – and in the colder months between July and September when the road isn’t safe to drive, you’ll travel to the Shotover River via helicopter!

Skippers Canyon rafting

 Birds-eye view of the majestic Skippers Canyon - photo credit Challenge Rafting Queenstown Facebook page


Although no rafting experience is required to book either trip, you must be able to swim to enter the Shotover tour, as there is a higher chance of going overboard on this narrow and twisty river than on the Kawarau. 



Both the Kawarau and Shotover courses take approximately 4-5 hours to complete, and all trips include complimentary courtesy coach transfers, specialist on-river clothing, a safety briefing, and post-trip hot showers.

If you’re looking for a jaw-dropping adventure with gorgeous scenery in Queenstown, make sure you add river rafting to your itinerary of things to do!  Don’t hesitate to visit the Challenge Rafting FAQ section or get in touch with a friendly member of the Challenge crew for further information.

When you book a vehicle with Omega Rental Cars in Queenstown, you’ll find yourself situated in the heart of Queenstown with the Challenge Rafting information HQ just a 2-minute walk down the street.  With your rental car, you’ll have easy access to a massive range of iconic Queenstown attractions to visit after your Challenge Rafting adventure – such as Fergburger and Hydro Attack!