The Clarence River is known as the ‘Colorado’ of New Zealand’s South Island. First named by early Maori ‘Waiau-Toa’ (meaning, the tears of the wife of a great Maori chief, Tapuae-o-Uenuku), it is one of New Zealand’s longest and least explored rivers.


The Clarence River runs diagonally across the upper South Island, in a north-easterly direction and drains a massive catchment area of rugged and remote mountainous terrain, totaling around 3,500 square kilometers.


The Clarence River is a truly amazing river that twists and turns its way from its source (Lake Tennyson), high at the northern end of the Southern alps in the Lewis Pass, gradually descending more than one kilometre in altitude throughout its entire 265 kilometer course to the Pacific Ocean. It slices through some of the most remote and spectacular scenery in the upper South Island. Its tortuous journey follows a natural fault line, between two vast mountain ranges, the Inland and Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, the highest peak rising to nearly 10,000 feet, named Tapuae-o-Uenuku, after the celebrated Maori chief.


Raft through her massive gorges, carved out by water over eons of years. Gaze up at the dizzying heights of the canyon walls, which rise above your raft as you float along. Witness the might of tectonic plate movement through the tortured folds of rock, which have been forced from deep within the earths crust, forging the Kaikoura maintain ranges over millions of years.


From pick up to drop off you will be fully catered for and cared for by our team of experienced guides and trip leaders. Enjoy great food, fabulous wine and many nights relaxing around the campfire. Everything that you require for rafting, camping and transportation will be provided, every step of the way.


The Clarence River is not known for its massive wave trains and death defying rapids. It is rather known for its length, remoteness, tranquil yet rugged scenery, its untouched wilderness, abundant wildlife – and of course the river her self! But believe me, she won’t give it up easy – if you want her ‘love’, you will have to earn it! For most, the challenge is what beckons and makes the difference between ‘just another tourist trip’ and a genuine adventure.


All along the river campsites are set out in gorgeous surroundings, nestled amongst the native bush, with only the dawn chorus of bellbirds and the music of the river to wake to.


There is also some unbelievable fishing with monster trout hiding in most of the hundreds of perfect pools along its length. Salmon too make the massive journey from the Pacific Ocean to the distant reaching branches of the Clarence River in autumn to spawn, giving birth to new generations.


Rafting the Clarence River is a real journey, in every sense of the word. Not only is it physically challenging, but it is equally as fulfilling on a psychological and emotional sense, as the complexities of life are stripped away and we get back to basics – how nature intended it.


The river has a real rhythm, and after you allow yourself time to relax into it, you will rediscover yourself and a deep sense of peace and harmony, that we seldom allow ourselves to feel in our hectic everyday lives.


Everyone is touched by the rivers personality. Most often strangers become close friends and the whole team forms a strong bond on the river.


Do you want to belong to a very small and select group of individuals?


Do you want to see the real backcountry and wilderness of New Zealand, and immerse yourself in its culture, rugged beauty and awe?


Do you want to do something that is uncontrived and unique, a journey that most people will only ever dream of taking, an expedition with lasting rewards and one that you will tell your grandkids about?


To experience this and much more, take the plunge – sign up for our next adventure – From the Mountains to the Sea.





 “Make it your life’s mission to continually search for knowledge and growth, pit yourself against challenge for it is within the heart of challenge that growth occurs.”