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Kawarau River
Kawarau River

Kawarau River

Queenstown

The Basics

Whitewater rafting on the Kawarau River offers Class II and III rapids suitable for beginners but exciting enough for adrenaline seekers. High-speed jet boat adventures begin across Lake Wakatipu, with close-up views of spectacular scenery throughout the rugged Kawarau Gorge. Visitors looking to try riverboarding (or sledging as it’s called in New Zealand) can use a purpose-built board to skim waves and whirlpools in the Roaring Meg section of the river.

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Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
star-4.5
$73.43 per adult
Traveler Favorite
My 10 yr olds favourite thing on our trip
The best time!!! Everyone has to do this!! Driver was awesome and so was the experience...the family loved it :)
Cellena_I, Jul 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Queenstown

star-4
360 spins
Isobel_S, Jul 2020
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
I had a fantastic time and I am definitely going to do this again. However, I just hope next time I do it that’s it’s not raining and it’s a beautiful day so I can see more views. The pilot was excellent and made it fun for all. I look forward to seeing them all next time 😊
star-5
Kjet after covid
Jason_G, Jun 2020
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
Great time with plenty of grins. Knowledgeable and good humoured guide. Recommended for most age groups.
star-5
Enjoyed thoroughly
Christina_G, Mar 2020
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
All of the people involved with the experience were awesome—from checking in, to making sure our valuables were stored to, to the entire boat trip. They were both professional, helpful, and fun to be with.
star-5
Awesome experience
Curiosity46285002726, Jun 2019
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
Well it was absolutely freezing .. 3 degrees Celsius at ten am but the ride was awesome .. thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.. thanks guys
star-5
This was really enjoyable, lasted...
jamesnisbet24, Feb 2016
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
This was really enjoyable, lasted for the hour and the driver really throw the boat around. However we were booked for a 5 p.m. trip but chanced going out early butte company said they were not operating a trip at our supposedly booked time so we were very lucky we chanced our luck at 3. Would suggest double checking at the pier side before you turn up to avoid being disappointed.
star-4
The staff were very prompt and...
John H, Jan 2015
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
The staff were very prompt and courteous. The time on the boat was excellent which was great value for money. The departure and finish location was in the centre of Queenstown so it was very handy and no wasting time travelling. Definitely recommend
star-5
Like a Jetboat ride and scenic cruise...
sendit2matt, Jan 2016
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
Like a Jetboat ride and scenic cruise together, it was awesome!
star-4
What an awesome experience. Had a...
Miles B, Aug 2014
Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
What an awesome experience. Had a lot of fun and it was well worth the costs. Looked at some other companies before choosing this one and this to me, was good value for the quoted 60 minutes. The only down side was, it went ten minutes shorter than quoted for some reason.... Wet weather gear is supplied and helps to keep you dry. The tour operators are friendly and show good customer service skills. You also get a free entry to the under water experience at the end, which was nice to see. All in all, much fun to be had, glad we did it, shame about getting robbed 10 minutes of water time.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • The region is a must-visit for nature lovers and water-sports enthusiasts.

  • Tours, activities, and day trips most often include hotel pickup and drop-off.

  • Remember to dress for variable weather, bring sturdy footwear, and wear sun protection.

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How to Get There

The river is a short drive from Queenstown and Arrowtown, and plenty of tour groups will shuttle you to the river if you book an activity with them. Since Lake Wakatipu empties into the Kawarau River, jet boat rides and other excursions often set out from the lakeshore.

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When to Get There

Water-sports enthusiasts flock to the region during spring and especially summer (September–February), putting popular river tours in high demand. In autumn (March–May), the rocky slopes surrounding the Kawarau River turn brilliant shades, and skies tend toward clear blue. Winter sees snow, but most tours run year-round. Bridge activities operate daily.

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Bike Riding and Wine Tasting

The Gibbston Valley wine region, tucked between the gorge and schist hills, can be reached via shuttle or bike rental from nearby Queenstown or Arrowtown. More than a half dozen wineries serve award-winning pinot noir, and offer a chance to relax with a winery tour and tasting. A moderate-level bike route parallels the emerald ribbon of winding water, with plenty of scenic picnic spots and photo ops along the way.

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