Our Story

design 2 - Our Story

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 he finished high school, and Christchurch born Julian Mathison aka “Blue” who had been working for Cascades for over 10 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!
Play Video
Layer 2@1X 1 - Our Story
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Great day - right from arrival the guys were organised, hard case and felt super safe after not rafting for 20 odd years. Family loved it - great balance of... read more

    April 19, 2021
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Our guides were pretty awesome and we had loads of fun on the water. The explanations in advance were really good so that the ride was adventurous without being scary.... read more

    July 20, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Best you could do in Rotorua if you had to pick just one activity! Packed with action and scenic view. The best part, other than dropping down from the water... read more

    Jerry L
    February 1, 2022
  • 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  Blue is an awesome guide, great experience! Highly recommended x this was my first rapid rafting trip. Loved it!

    July 9, 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  Fantastic trip for our mixed family group of all ages - such good fun, great guides, gear and experience. Highly recommended

    April 23, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Had a great time doing this. 2nd time on the River, but first for my Partner who isn't the biggest fan of deep moving water etc. But she had a... read more

    April 10, 2022
  • tripadvisor stars 5 - Our Story  Excellent experience! Definitely recommend to anyone. It was my first time rafting and the guys at Kaituna Cascades made it super easy for me to understand as well as have... read more

    July 23, 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
TA logo primary@1X - Our Story