North Island Packrafting Explorations

Expeditions and Education redefining tramping and paddling as inspiration to explore North Island Mountains and Rivers

Basic learn to Packraft course for beginners

Gear, land and water environments, heuristic approaches and confidence to take on packrafting as a new pursuit

Adventure Racing packraft clinic

Team work, leadership, synchronicity and mastering the amphibian dual-terrains of packrafting while racing

Duke of Edinburgh Adventurous Packrafting Journeys

Duke of Edinburgh Award Packrafting for Bronze, Silver, Gold, Training, Planning, Practice and Qualifier

Packrafting explorations in the North Island

What is Packrafting?

Basically packrafting is a combination of hiking and paddling mountains and rivers. Packrafts are named because they are a small and lightwieght “pack raft” packed inside your “pack” when you go hiking. When inflated they become fully functional river rafts from a structural perspective. From a functional point of view, Packrafting combines many components of whitewater kayaking.

Having a Packraft allow us to undertake North Island river journeys that are otherwise seemingly difficult, especially when combining two modes of transport. Now we explore remote North Island rivers or streams too shallow for traditional kayaks and group rafts.

Our packrafting aim is to explore North Island waterways in a way which preserves the natural mountainous values which have brought us there. Our small packrafting NZ based groups never exceed four people on the river, and we operate under the principles of Leave No Trace so that our wild places remain just as we found them. If you’re interested in our NZ packrafting course, please get in touch to find out more.

Social Nature movement, with the best packrafting NZ has to offer.

Is Packrafting a new activity?

Relatively speaking, yes. However, small, portable rubber rafts have been used in expeditions since the mid-1800s. From tire tubes, to animal skins and other innovative ways to climb mountains and navigate rivers. With the modern age adventure racing, the ever popular tramping scene in New Zealand often looking down onto beautiful rivers where one knows it would be great to finish hiking by paddling out, there’s been a spike of interest in durable and light one to two-person crafts that can be carried in your backpack. If you want to diversify your hiking or paddling pursuits, sign up for a trip or get equipped with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to plan your own excursions. Here’s where to start…

Packrafting in the North Island of New Zealand with SNM

We specialise in packrafting tours in New Zealand. Our North Island packrafting day trips will see you paddling various grade 1-2 rivers. Longer multiday North Island packrafting trips will take you deeper and further, covering more miles of rugged wilderness, crossing alpine lakes and camping on sandy beaches and isolated islands. Or you can sign up for a safety and skills course.

Our New Zealand made packrafts are tough quality!

We use quality New Zealand made Packrafts from Koaro. With big tubes of air on all sides and a low centre of gravity, they are as stable as a table. We’ve taken them through class 3 rapids and they perform perfectly.

Another benefit of the Packrafts airy design is that they can be paddled in very shallow water as they have a wide displacement hull. Handy for Zealand’s braided rivers which frequently fork, distributing water, making shallow channels. Compared to a plastic kayak, our packrafts can head much further upstream, deep into the mountains.

We give our packrafts a hard life, to ensure they are safew and reliable, but also evidence to their kiwi made quality. On the off chance that something does happen, we’ll be carrying a repair kit to ensure your adventure goes on as long as you can.

Our packrafts fit in your pack!

Each packraft rolls down to the size of a sleeping bag, and weighs a mere 2 – 3kg. This makes it easy to carry the rest of your tramping gear at the same time. And our 4-piece paddles are built for walking too. They break down into sections and strap securely inside your backpack so nothing is on the outside to snag on trees.

Inflating packrafts is easy.

With a little lightweight innovative inflation bag, anyone can inflate our packrafts in less than five minutes. You don’t need to carry a heavy battery powered pump or a large one-job bike-style pump, packraft bag inflators are all you need. Or, use your lungs, so their is always a back-up option.

Best Packrafting destinations and seasons in New Zealand’s North Island

It’s the beginning of an adventurous new year and like us, you are probably starting to plan which landscape and water-based trips to take and which adventure meet ups and outdoor events to attend.

In New Zealand, you can packraft anytime of year, indeed winter is cooler, but sometimes dry rivers are now running higher due to more rain and snowmelt (take a drysuit)! Packrafting North Island rivers is always warmer.

Middle of the winter for the Northern hemisphere means summer is in full swing in New Zealand. The warmer season is Summer and extends as much as October through to April. NEW ZEALAND is a prime packrafting destination.

North Island packrafting trips in NZ can be anywhere from a few days to many weeks. It is pretty much packrafting paradise and you are only limited to your imagination (and skills and experience).



What’s So Cool about Packrafting?

Combine land-based and water-based activities into one. Take your dog, your partners, kids or take the packraft hunting and take your game back with you. Access more remote rivers without a classic 20+kg plastic kayak, rather a packraft weighing only 2kg! Packrafts are stable, cheaper than a white water river kayak, more user friendly and more comfortable.


Other NZ packrafting trips we run:


Whanganui River (Ohintonga rd. > river > town)


Lower Tongariro River

Waitara River

Akatarawa River

Waikanae river

Rangitikei RIver

Ngaruroro River Boyd Hut to Kuripapango

Otaki River

Waiohine River

Kauaeranga River Coromandel (Puketui rd. > Totara Flat Campsite > Town)

Tairua River )Totara Flat Campsite > Puketui rd.)



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Packrafting Exploration Credentials

New Zealand packrafting tours
SNM are IPIA qualified guides.

Promoting excellence in packrafting instruction and guiding through qualifications for professionals.

SNM are NZOIA qualified guides and members.

Promoting excellence in outdoor instruction and guiding through qualifications for professionals since 1987. Our instructors can organise, instruct and lead multisport kayaking on flat water and moving water up to and including class II. Our team have awards in both whitewater and multisport instruction.

Adventure Mark
SNM are externally audited in Adventurous Activities.

AdventureMark™ is New Zealand’s largest adventure certification body. They work with over 200 operators here in New Zealand and in several countries worldwide providing our health and safety audit and adventure certification services across the globe.

SNM are approved Packrafting (River) operators through:

WorkSafe is New Zealand’s primary workplace health and safety regulator. Our audit is registered by WorkSafe New Zealand under the Adventure Activities Certification Scheme