Multi-day wilderness journey

We begin our journey in historic Molesworth Station, at the confluence of the Clarence / Waiau Toa and Acheron Rivers. Downstream of this point vehicle access is extremely limited – we use the river as our road and a raft as our vehicle. Everything we need is carried with us – all food, cooking and camping equipment.

We literally travel from the mountains to the sea – starting at 700 metres and finishing at the coast. Experience this remote valley, leave your cell phone behind and forget about work – there is plenty of time to unwind. Every twist and turn in the river brings a new vista. Along the way, experience the open tussock lands of Molesworth Farm Park, three spectacular gorges of twisted rock strata interspersed with open braided river sections, impressive alpine peaks including Tapuae-O-Uenuku, remote high country stations, amazing geology and the new conservation park Ka Whata Tu O Rakihouia.

Clarence-River-Rafting-037Each evening, we set up camp beside the river. Every campsite has a different character. Enjoy the company of our knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides, who will not only guide you down the river during the day, but also display their cooking skills around the campfire.

We can’t tell you what we will be preparing as it is different every trip. We love cooking and are always coming up with new ideas. As much as possible we use seasonal local produce from the garden, the Kaikoura coastal waters, the mountains and all those yummy items for which Marlborough region and the Kaikoura Coast are known. Coffee is roasted fresh for each trip.

Let us treat you to what has been described as ‘an experience of a lifetime’.

What time of year to go?

Traditionally Spring was considered the penultimate time to run the Clarence. We now operate from late September to late April. Each season offers a different mood of this river valley. We are not able to control the weather (yet) but whenever you choose to travel with us you will be well looked after.

  • In Spring the river is usually higher making your on-river day very relaxed.  20110325_0734The birds are nesting and the mountains are spectacular with snow on them.
  • In Summertime the river is generally lower and therefore the water is warmer, which is great for swimming. This is the season to see the special plants of this valley in flower.
  • In Autumn the weather is cooling down as does the temperatureDSCF3105 of the water. The weather is usually clear and calm and the colours are stunning.

Who is this trip suitable for?

This journey is suitable for any active person of moderate fitness. Minimum age is 5, maximum age is 124. Minimum and maximum numbers apply.

  • This is a very popular family activity – there is something every age group will enjoy.P1000176_2
  • If you have done lots of tramping or climbing and love being outdoors and still want to get out and enjoy our magnificent country but don’t want to carry a pack then this could be the trip for you.Give multi-day rafting a go.
  • Women who are keen on the outdoors, we can organize specialty women’s trips.
  • Ticked off the Otago Rail Trail, or paddled the Whanganui and are trying to find another fun active holiday, then come and raft the Clarence with us.
  • If you have an interest in botany of the unique South Marlborough area, geology, birds or photography, this river journey has a lot to offer.
  • Kayakers who have always wanted to run this river, and have some friends who are not kayakers but would like to come along, they can travel by raft.
  • Maybe you are the kind of person who enjoys some tasty food at the end of a day whilst sitting around a campfire?

Grade 2 – what does that mean?

The Clarence / Waiau Toa at normal water levels is a grade 2 river, and when the river is running high there are a couple of grade 3 rapids. Grade 2 has regular medium sized waves of less than 1 metre. The route through the rapids is easy to recognise and generally unobstructed although there may be rocks in the main current or over hanging branches. Grade 3 has larger waves of up to 2 metres. There is a need to manoeuvre to negotiate rapids and a passage may be difficult to recognise from the river. What does that translate to? The river is easy yet playful. There are times when your participation is needed and there are times when you can relax and take in the magnificent scenery.

A full safety briefing is given at the river before we begin our journey. A satellite phone is carried on all wilderness trips. River rafting is an adventure activity with a degree of risk. Participants should be aware that the rafting operator cannot absolutely guarantee their safety. Having said that, please be assured that your safety is our first priority.

If you put your own group together, you can choose the date and we will let you know if it will work.

See our departure dates to help plan your trip