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Shotover River, Queenstown Overview

Situated in the Otago region of the South Island in New Zealand, the Shotover River, as the name suggests, is a fast-flowing river with several rapids. Considered to be an ‘aquatic playground’ owing to its numerous rapids, which make the river a hotbed for water sports like rafting, kayaking etc., the spot is also incredibly scenic and attracts a significant tourist influx only for sightseeing.

 Flowing for a length of 75 kms, the river originates from the Southern Alps and flows southwards through the Skippers Canyon, between the Richardson Mountains and the Harris Mountains and finally drains into Kawarau River, which is east of Queenstown.

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Oxenbridge Tunnel at Shotover River

The Oxenbridge Tunnel was constructed by the Oxenbridge brothers years ago at the time of mining. The 170 metre long tunnel was built near Arthurs Point to divert water from the river to recover gold from the riverbed. However, the project failed and now the tunnel is utilized by the tourism department for the rafting routes and by kayakers. The tunnel is an additional thrill to the rafting activities.

Oxenbridge Tunnel

White Water River Rafting at Shotover River

White Water River Rafting is the most popular activity at the river that can send your adrenaline soaring high up. Considered to be the highlight of the trip, the raft takes you through unexplored rugged landscape and picturesque vistas of the adjoining valley. With innumerous mesmerizing panoramas and loaded with thrill, the rafting route also passes through a 170 metre long tunnel adding to the adventure that you have undertaken. You can bounce and glide on the frothing water while on a paddle boat or on a jet. The rafting is available both on kayaks and on high speed jet boats. After passing through the Oxenbridge Tunnel, there are rapids of Class III, IV, and V, the rafting ends on tranquil waters.

White Water Rafting

Heli-Rafting at Shotover River

Besides the paddle rafting and the jet speed boats, you can also try your hand at heli-rafting. The activity is performed in a helicopter hovering over the clear indigo rivers offering a beautiful 360 degrees bird’s eye view of the valley. Experience the thrill from the aerial flight in the helicopter which starts at the Skippers Canyon. After this exciting accentuation, once you land, you can dive ride in to tackle the six rapids. Following which you enter the Oxenbridge Tunnel and end on a high after the adventurous Cascade Rapid.


  1. During the winter months of June to September, the rafting starts with the heli ride because the roads are unserviceable because of the monsoons.
  2. It is recommended that you know how to swim.
  3. It is required that you do not have any heart conditions or are not taking any heart medication.
  4. Children between the ages of 13 to 17 years are to be accompanied by adults.
  5. Rafting is not open to children below 13 years of age.
  6. You are required to bring a change of clothes, towels and a swimwear. Additional equipment is provided by tour operator.

Best Time to Visit

Most activities and sports are open and operate throughout the year. However, some water rafting activities are operational seasonally, so it is recommended to visit here in the summer months between October and May.

How To Reach Shotover River

Shotover River is located north of Queensland. Most tour operators and tourism companies offer pick and drop services in a shuttle or public bus from the hotels.

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