02 Dec

Tongariro Blue Duck Experience

A unique, hands-on NZ eco-adventure: help us protect the rare and endangered Whio (Blue Duck) population from predators while rafting the beautiful Tongariro River.

Above photo: Chris Patterson

The Blue Duck Experience – Overview

Cost: $194.00 per person(prices valid till 30th September 2024)
Departure Times: all year: 8:00AM. Meet at our base 15mins before departure time.
Departure Points: The Rafting Centre, 95 Atirau Rd, Turangi.
What you need to bring: Swimwear, towel, sense of adventure.

  • Clothing & Safety: Polar fleece jersey, splash jacket, helmet, wetsuit, wetsuit boots, life jacket
  • Guides: Qualified, professional, happy rafting guide, knowledgeable commentary
  • Awesome memories of your adventure
Notes: Minimum age is 13 yrs.

Your Mission: Help save the Whio (while having heaps of fun)

This special rafting experience combines everything we love about living in New Zealand: drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, wildlife watching, outdoor adventures and giving something back to the pristine natural environment. 

You will raft the mighty Tongariro with us, stopping at remote and beautiful spots on the riverbank to help us check predator traps and keep our beloved Whio safe from harm. 

The Whio (Blue Duck) is one of our neighbours on the Tongariro River. 

Only four species of duck in the world can survive on fast-flowing rivers with raging rapids, and we are blessed that the Whio have chosen to make their home here. They only thrive and survive in sparkling clean, pollution-free waters, so it’s a huge compliment! 

What’s a Whio?

You may already be carrying a Whio in your wallet: they’re the face of New Zealand’s $10 notes.

They’re one of only three species worldwide who can live year-round in fast-flowing rivers like the Tongariro.

Whio have some pretty unique characteristics amongst ducks. Huge, oversized webbed feet allow them to navigate the Tongariro’s rapids like olympic champions, and the fleshy “lip” on their upper bill makes scraping juicy larvae off the rocks a breeze.

Why are Whio endangered?

Under 3,000 Whio remain in New Zealand. They’re even rarer than some of our species of Kiwi. So what happened?

Unfortunately, human settlers made life difficult for Whio by introducing predators to New Zealand. We brought stoats, cats, dogs, ferrets and rats, who kill their young and steal their eggs.

Unlike other endangered New Zealand birds, we can’t relocate them to predator-free sanctuary islands to save them: these islands don’t have the long, turbulent rivers that Whio depend on.

The clean-freaks of the New Zealand bird world, Whio are fussy about their living standards. Only pristine, fast-flowing, crystal clear rivers will do, thank you very much.

The presence of Whio tells you that a river is healthy – it’s pretty flattering to get their seal of approval!

To keep Whio numbers growing,  it’s important to give them a helping hand. And that’s where you come in.

A Unique All-in-one Rafting and Conservation Experience

Our Blue Duck Eco rafting adventure is a white water rafting trip with a difference. 

With an experienced local guide you will navigate the same exciting Grade 3 Tongariro River rapids as our regular Tongariro White Water Rafting trip, but we’ll be making some pit stops along remote stretches of the riverbank that are only accessible by raft. 

Here, you will take part in the Blue Duck Project by walking the trapping lines and helping us to check our predator traps.

Our gas powered, automatic traps are easy to handle, and you will learn how to make sure they are all charged and set to go. 

You can do as much or as little as you like. With expert commentary from your guide, you will learn all about Whio and our conservation project whilst spotting them in their natural habitat. You’ll discover their territories, see where they nest and find out what makes them so unique. By the end of the tour we think you’ll love them as much as we do! 

These are small personal tours with no more than 10 people per trip.

Along with helping with the traps, you will also be helping the project financially as a portion of the trip price paid will go directly into the trust.

How The Day Will Work

We get started at our Turangi rafting base where our friendly crew will fit you with safety gear, including wetsuit and extra layers to keep you warm. Then we head to the banks of the beautiful Tongariro River for an on-shore briefing with your awesome Rafting Guide. 

The Tongariro River’s grade 3 rapids are perfect for first-time rafters: thrills and spills galore without any extreme drops requiring experience. Unforgettable adventures await as you navigate 60 rapids in a 13km stretch – more rapids in one stretch than anywhere in New Zealand, how cool is that?

Paddle through the very heart of the Great Lake Taupō region, enjoying stunning scenery you can only access by water. Ancient podocarp forests, native bush and volcanic cliffs surround you on your epic Tongariro River journey. Stopping along the way to re-bait some of  the predator traps that we have in place to protect the rare and very special bird.

Soaked to the skin and grinning from ear to ear, return to our base.

To learn about our white water rafting hazard and risk disclosure, click here.