Whitewater adventures in New Zealand

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 14-20, 1996
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Getting away from the beach in Manzanillo
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Whitewater adventures in New Zealand
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Whitewater adventures in New Zealand
Question: Can you recommend any paddling or rafting adventures close to the Te Anau/Queenstown area of New Zealand? I'm looking for a scenic, adventurous, and hopefully pristine wilderness experience. Sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking (Class II in hard-shell or Class III in inflatable), and paddleboat rafting are all acceptable trips. I'll be there in mid-December. Since I'll be on my own, I am looking for a guided trip(s) for safety. Thanks in advance!

Evelyn Rodriguez
Salt Lake City, UT
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Mind-bogglingly scenic, yes (what on New Zealand's South Island isn't?). Adventurous and pristine, well, practically. I'm talking about the two-day sea kayaking trip into Fiordland National Park's Doubtful Sound. Rest assured: There's nothing dubious about this paddle, with its spectacular U-shaped valleys that rise up out of the valley for nearly a mile and 300-some-odd miles of hiking trails ripe for post-kayak exploration.

Fiordland Wilderness Experiences (011-64-3-249-7700) will meet you in Te Anau, drive you to Lake Manapouri for a whopping 20-mile boat trip across the water followed by a 13-mile drive across rough, four-wheel-drive terrain and over Wilmot Pass to--finally--your put-in at Deep Cove. From here, you paddle down Doubtful Sound, past crested-penguin-infested Rolla Island, to a detour up the eerily quiet Hall Arm. Back on the Sound, you head to Elizabeth Island; keep your eyes peeled for fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and little blue penguins. Turn around here, put your sails up, and pray for wind--a stiff breeze will blow you back to Deep Cove with little effort on your part.

Fiordland's guided trips go for $163 per person, or if you're feeling ambitious, rent a kayak from them and strike out on your own. If you're strapped for time, consider signing on with Rosco's Milford Sound Sea Kayaks' six-hour sea kayak outing ($51 per person; 011-64-3-249-8840) in postcard-perfect Milford Sound. For additional details about Fiordland NP (the country's largest, by the way) and the Queenstown area, call the visitor center at 011-64-3-249-7921 and check out "From Here To Antipodes" in Outside's 1996-97 Winter Travel Guide.

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