Kawarau River
Tours

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Our most recommended Kawarau River Tours

Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

1. Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

Get an adrenaline rush on a 1-hour jet boat ride, operated by the world’s first commercial jet boat company. Take in stunning views of the Remarkable Mountains and journey up 2 of South Island’s most iconic rivers.  Depart from the heart of Queenstown, and climb aboard the big yellow jet boat at the Main Town Pier. Hold on tight as you accelerate across the water and feel the exhilaration of a high-powered twin-engine boat that powers across Lake Wakatipu. Experience the twists and spins as you enter the Kawarau River and race past rocks and under bridges at speeds of up to 95 kilometers per hour.  Grip the heated handrails and experience 360° spins while you speed up the shallow channels of the Shotover River. After 45 kilometers of pure adrenaline, return to the pier and see photos and videos from your trip.

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Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

2. Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

Discover Queenstown’s untouched and pristine wilderness during an authentic jet boat adventure across Lake Wakatipu and along the historic Kawarau River. Choose from a 25-minute or 1-hour experience and spend more time on the water with a convenient departure right from the heart of Queenstown. Depart from Thunder Bay next to Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown and travel far up the Kawarau River, covering a distance of 47 km. Along the way, listen to interesting commentary from your experienced driver. After getting equipped with a life jacket and spray jacket, climb on board and experience exhilarating 360-degree spins, skimming the water at speeds of up to 95 km/hour.  Then, travel down the river where it is calmest, even when the lake is rough. Take your camera along to capture the stunning scenery of your jet boat experience with frequent photo opportunities.

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From Queenstown: Lord of the Rings Full-Day Tour

3. From Queenstown: Lord of the Rings Full-Day Tour

From Queenstown, outside the Station at the corner of Camp and Shotover streets, begins a full-day tour that takes you for a comprehensive and memorable Lord of the Rings experience. You’ll enjoy expert and entertaining commentary from your guide who has true passion for the books and the movie trilogy. You will travel in a small group to ensure that your experience is a personal and interactive one. The filming for all 3 movies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was done in director Peter Jackson's native New Zealand. On this South Island tour you'll visit numerous locations, sights and scenes from the movies, while taking in some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in the world. During the day you’ll have the chance to see and touch countless weapons, costumes, and other items from the movie, taking as many photographs as you like. Lunch is included on the tour and is served in a restaurant.

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Queenstown: Kawarau River Rafting and Jet Boat Ride

4. Queenstown: Kawarau River Rafting and Jet Boat Ride

Raft the Kawarau River, perhaps better known as the River Anduin in Lord of the Rings, for a great half-day activity in Queenstown This is a perfect introduction to whitewater rafting for first-timers. There will be plenty of rapids action plus time to sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Catch the free shuttle from the centre of town out to the raft base where you will be fitted out with all your gear. From there, head back into the heart of Queenstown to catch your jet boat transfer. Take on the beginning 22 km of the Kawarau river at 95 km/h with thrilling 360-degree spins as you arrive at the rafting station. Your rafting adventure covers 8-kilometers of the river. Take on grade 2-3 rapids and perhaps the occasional grade 2-4 rapid, when there are higher water levels. These are usually easier to navigate and there is less risk of falling out. Enjoy flat stretches of river between the rapids where you have the opportunity to race your friends on the other rafts or jump out and swim. Keep an eye on the other rafts, as there is a good chance of a water fight. Conclude your adventure by rafting the longest commercially rafted rapid in New Zealand, the Dog Leg. This is a 400-meter long and grade 3/4 rapid. Add some extra excitement by joining in on the optional cliff jumping section, or sit back and watch your friends take a leap.

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From Queenstown: Lord of the Rings Half Day in Middle Earth

5. From Queenstown: Lord of the Rings Half Day in Middle Earth

Your journey through Middle Earth starts from the station info building on the corner of Shotover Street and Camp Street at 10:00 AM. From there you will travel to Arrowtown, once a gold mining town (which you can still pan for gold and find some if you are lucky) passing Coronet Peak, one of the many ski fields in the area.  See The Ford of Bruinen where the Black Riders are swept down the river and then onto the Gladden Fields where Isildur is ambushed by Orcs. From Arrowtown you will travel towards the Kawarau river where you will see The Argonath (The Pillars of the King) Then its time for some fun handling and photographing weapons, such as Gimli's axe, Aduril and Narsil.  After spending time reenacting scenes with the weapons it's time to leave Middle Earth behind and return to Queenstown.

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Queenstown: Half-Day Guided Ebike Wine Tour

6. Queenstown: Half-Day Guided Ebike Wine Tour

This half-day adventure begins from the town center and transfers you to Arrowtown. From there you will set off with a local guide and a fully kitted ebike for a one-of-a-kind ride through the Wakatipu Basin. This gentle track winds its way through quiet river valleys, down quaint country lanes, and over impressive suspension bridges. As you enter the Gibbston Valley, enjoy a break at the historic Kawarau Bridge and visit the World Home of Bungy. The ride continues along the strikingly blue Kawarau River and through lush vineyards. The reward comes at the Kinross Cellar door where you will end the day sipping boutique Gibbston wines. The trail is easy and hard-packed, perfect to explore on an ebike. Unique in Queenstown, these bikes are built to keep the trip scenic, comfortable, and fun. The ebikes are “Dutch Style”; upright with a taller frame and a riding position that gives greater comfort and visibility. They are easy to ride, simple to operate, and allow for as much or as little effort as the rider wants to exert. They are also fitted with panniers for gear and any purchases along the way. Mudguards to keep the rider clean and fresh. This guided tour covers all the bases: a fully kitted ebike with panniers, water, snacks, wine tasting, guide, and vehicle support at designated points along the trail. This tour is perfect for those who want to get out and get active (but not too active) and finish the day tasting some delicious regional wines.

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Queenstown: Guided E-Bike Tour with Winery Visits & Tastings

7. Queenstown: Guided E-Bike Tour with Winery Visits & Tastings

On this "Ride to the Vines" tour, you will cycle on a powerful e-bike that gives you an opportunity to ride faster and further. Thanks to the help of the bike, you will be able to spend most of your energy spotting interesting places and enjoying the local scenery along the way.  First, you will visit the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown, and ride along the Arrow and Kawarau rivers. Crossing suspension bridges you will also visit the oldest bungy jumping bridge. Then the Gibbston Valley will welcome you with views of extensive vineyards as far as the eye can see.  At the boutique wineries, you will learn about the secrets of vine growing. Personalized wine tastings with your knowledgeable guide will make your trip exclusive and memorable. The final stop is at a local farm café, where you can have lunch and soak up the relaxed atmosphere of the valley. You will then be transferred from the café back to town.

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Queenstown: White Water Surfing Along the Kawarau River

8. Queenstown: White Water Surfing Along the Kawarau River

Bodyboard up to 12km down the iconic Kawarau River. You’ll enjoy riding white water rapids and even get a chance to try surfing on standing waves, riding whirlpools as well as catching some underwater currents if you are brave enough. The fast Kawarau River bursts with energy, and this trip will challenge your nerves from start to finish. About 1-1.5 hours will be spent in the river.  The bodyboards are light and highly maneuverable, allowing you to be more active in the water. It's the perfect choice for someone looking for the ultimate adventure. You can even choose your own board depending on how much adrenaline you can handle. River surfing is best suited for people who want the full white water experience. You'll get the opportunity to also enjoy some of New Zealand's spectacular scenery on the more gentle parts of the river, and you can also stop for a jump from the cliffs along the river.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kawarau River

Want to discover all there is to do in Kawarau River? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Kawarau River

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 2 reviews

Such a cool day. E Bikes make it so cruisey and enjoyable - and our guides for the day (Jono & Sam) were the best! Highly recommend if you’re looking to get out and see some amazing scenery while having fun - and finish it off with some amazing wine! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Highly recommend this activity to all travelling to Queenstown. Thoroughly enjoyed our hour out on the water!

Fun, quick time filler with easy access fron Queenstown wharf. Really friendly workers and driver

Awesome experience, wanted to go back for more but unfortunately time did not allow it.

My grandson LOVED this trip. He wanted to go again. Highly recommended.