Our Story

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In the Beginning………..
Kaituna Cascades was the first operator to start rafting the Kaituna River way back in the early 90’s! Long time raft guide and local guru kayaker Keith Hughes, started this legendary company in 1991 – Obviously only after a lot of practice runs down the formally considered “un-raftable” river with any willing friends, family or whoever was brave enough to test it out…..! The stoke was high, the river was unique and amazing, and it proved to be as safe as grade 5 can be – the rest is history.

After 26 awesome years of business, Keith retired and handed the reigns over to Pete Lodge, a Rotorua local who had been working for him since finishing high school, & Christchurch born, now local – Julian Mathison aka “Blue”, both who have been rafting for 20+ years. With a bunch of enthusiasm and new ideas, they continue to develop and pioneer new ways too have the absolute best time on our home river – the now world famous Kaituna River and “Tutea Falls” the 7 meter waterfall.

Our super friendly staff are our biggest asset, and are all hand picked due to their love of the outdoors and years of river experience in both extreme kayaking and white water rafting. The guides love being day to day comics with everyone that walks in the door! Having years of experience means that they can relax and entertain while keeping you safe! It’s like always hanging out with your mates at work having the best time, and that vibe generates the best atmosphere to create epic rafting trips, great banter and memories for you and the crew!


After 30 years of safe rafting, we are locally owned and operated by a couple of mates still currently raft guiding and loving life.

Being out on the river is our absolute passion, We look forward to meeting you!!

Meet our epic crew

Meet our epic crew



Join the Original Kaituna Rafting Company for an unbeatable grade 5 white- water experience on one of New Zealand’s most exciting and beautiful rivers!
Come Join us and our awesome crew!
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  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  I had the most amazing time with these guys, from welcome to exit. Eoin was such a great coach and explained everything to keep us safe (+1 for the beautiful... read more

    July 23, 2021
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  An exciting white water rafting experience in a beautiful native forest setting near Rotorua. Rob was a fun great guide.

    April 12, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Epic time on the Kaituna Awa with Kaituna Cascades. Cheers Blue for the safe but fun trip down.

    If you are interested in doing this but apprehensive about doing... read more

    June 28, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Very friendly and takes safety the priority. Bunch of very friendly guys. Pete was our group lead and was fantastic.
    Highly recommended

    September 3, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Thoroughly recommend this company for an amazing adventure on the Kaituna river. Even though I was too nervous to do the waterfall, Blue made me feel very welcome and our... read more

    January 1, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  The energy of the guides combined with the natural beauty of surroundings made for a brilliant experiance for our entire group of 40. For teenagers to switch off their... read more

    April 11, 2021
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  What a great experience this was and so much fun and laughter. Kaituna Cascades are thoroughly professional in every way and Cole was a fantastic rafting guide. ... read more

    April 4, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Awesome trip, well organised, professional, fun and lottsa laughs with blue and the team. Would highly recommend this company for your thrills and spills on the kaituna River. Anatural... read more

    April 27, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Was an awesome experience! Felt super safe and comfortable and will most definitely be doing it again!

    July 13, 2021
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  fantastic outdoor group friendly and fun staff! we are group of 8 feeling refreshed after the tour! nice day out even with cyclone dovi looming in. all weather fun activity!... read more

    Sheelagh M
    February 1, 2022
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