White-water rafting, sledging and kayaking are popular around the Western Bay of Plenty district —and about half a dozen companies offer trips. Wairoa River near Tauranga, is one of the best-known white-water playgrounds in the country. The Wairoa is a real adventure experience not for the faint-hearted with a ride through grade 3 to thundering grade 5 rapids (adrenaline rush, thrilling white-water), with nasty names like Mother’s Nightmare and the Devil’s Elbow.
The River is controlled by a hydro-scheme and can only be rafted on 26 days of the year (selected weekends Sept), so bookings are essential. Further afield, the Kaituna River has been termed perfect for rafters seeking a short, swift blast of extreme white-water. Rafted daily, the river drains Lake Rotoiti, and is located 40 minutes from Tauranga. It plunges down a narrow, twisting bush-clad gorge and cascades over a 7-metre high waterfall —claimed to be the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. Local rafting companies (following pages) also offer family fun type trips on lower grade rivers such as the Lower Rangitaiki