New Plymouth Live Cam

Located on the West coast of the beautiful North Island


Hosted by:
  • New Plymouth Sport Fishing Underwater Club
  • Ocean View Parade - New Plymouth
  • 4310 New Zealand
  • 06 758 3901
  • [email protected]

Wild on the Water

When you arrive in New Zealand it is often difficult to plan your itinerary so that you see as much as possible of our beautiful country while at the same time being able to do all the fun activities that you've heard so much about. Often you are restricted to just a few regions which offer the activities that you want to do. This isn't so when it comes to action on our magnificent rivers.

As a small country New Zealand has been blessed with an abundance of rivers which have provided a stern challenge to explorers and adventurers alike ever since the first intrepid pioneers negotiated their craft along often unpredictable currents.

These rivers have played a pivotal role in the development of our nation providing vital communication and transportation networks through some of the most rugged wilderness in the world. Today, however, they have lost their importance as major transportation routes and have now become the source of great pleasure to thrillseekers and nature lovers alike.

When it comes to full-on action it's hard to beat the thrills and spills offered by white-water rafting which has become perhaps the most popular activity on our nation's wild rivers.

There are many operators throughout the country offering a wide variety of white-water trips to suit all ages and levels of experience. For the adventurous there are the demanding Grade 4 and 5 rivers such as the Wairoa, Rangitaiki, Wanganui, Kaituna, and Rangitikei Rivers in the North Island and the Karamea, Buller, Rangitata, and Shotover Rivers in the South. There are many sections of these rivers, as well as other rivers, which are Grade 3 or less for those who prefer a more relaxed introduction to white water while at the same time being challenged by the experience.

Your trip will commence with a briefing by your guide who will explain all the paddling techniques you will need to know on the river. This briefing will include a safety demonstration showing you what to do should you end up in the water. Part of the safety precautions taken even before you get on the water is this issue of a life-vest and helmet and often you will have the option of a wetsuit and neoprene boots especially during the colder months of April to October.

With all of the formalities out of the way it's time for the action and, depending on the river you have chosen, you will either have a few moments to collect your thoughts or else it will be full on into your first rapid. With names like "Jaws", "Blind Canyon", "Roller Coaster" and "Mother's Nightmare" it's easy to become apprehensive as you are paddling toward your first drop. But once through, with adrenalin pumping through your veins, there will be no time for nerves as you eagerly paddle on to your next challenge.

So, white water rafting just doesn't sound thrilling enough for you, huh? Not enough danger? Not close enough to the action? Well, as if you hadn't guessed already, NZ offers something more, especially for you. NZ's newest white-water thrill is the extreme sport of river sledging in which participants are in full control of their own purpose built sledge which they alone navigate through the raging rapids of several of NZ's big rivers.

Sledging originates from France where, in the 60's & 70's, a small band of Frenchmen first floated on the peaceful canals and rivers on the outskirts of Paris. In 1985 Alain "Moustache" Ventelou introduced sledging to New Zealand where it has become increasingly popular amongst thrillseekers who want more control of their white water experience. Unlike rafting, participants are much closer to the water and there is no-one around to do the steering for you if the going gets rough - you're on your own !

You will be well briefed before you depart however, and, in addition to your specifically designed sledge, you'll be equipped with a padded wetsuit (for absorbing the bumps and scrapes that only genuine NZ river boulders can offer !), life-vest, helmet and fins. And of course, you will be accompanied on your trip by experienced guides. Then it will be full on into the thundering rapids with occasional stops to take a breath and contemplate what lies ahead. Not all of your trip will be full-on action and there will be periods of more leisurely cruises where you have time to admire the scenery rather than the murky depths of the river floor !

Currently river sledging is available on the Rangitaiki and Tongariro rivers in the North and the Kawarau River in the South.

As an alternative to both rafting and sledging you now have the option of commanding your own inflatable kayaks or "Goon Boats" (a term coined by Brian Megaw of River Valley Ventures). These 1 or 2 person inflatable kayaks are similar to a raft but shorter and narrower. They are surprisingly stable, easy to learn to use and give the participant the benefits of being in control of their own craft while at the same time having the stability of a raft. There are several operators offering such trips in NZ as an alternative to their rafting trips.

Probably the most easily accessible activity on New Zealand's rivers is Jet Boating. So, if white-water action sounds like to much effort for the amount of thrills returned, then maybe this is for you.

The Jet Boat was invented by a New Zealander, Bill Hamilton, in the 1950's as the result of a lifelong ambition to be able to navigate a craft upstream in the rivers of the central South Island. The result of his innovations was to produce a craft of extreme manoeuvrability which could operate in very shallow waters.

Today there are many operators offering jet boat rides throughout New Zealand and it is not hard to find a river on which to experience the rollercoaster ride of your life ! Drivers will appear to be madmen as they navigate their boat to within inches of trees, rocks and river banks weaving their path along the river with the precision of surgeons. As a demonstration of their skill and the manoeuvrability of these sleek craft your operator will often perform a high speed, 360 degree spin which has become the trademark of New Zealand Jet Boat industry.

New Zealand's rivers offer many, many activities that are easily accessible to the visitor. If all the hair raising activity covered in this article is not your style then perhaps a more leisurely cruise would be more to your liking. Many operators offer just this and will provide all that is necessary for either a leisurely day cruise or a complete expedition into the rugged back country of New Zealand.

Whatever your desires, you can be sure they will be catered for here in the Adventure Capital of the World.