Journey - Te Waiau Toa - Outward Bound

Journey - Te Waiau Toa

For Ages 22+ Duration 8 days

Te Waiau Toa/Clarence River will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, paddling 190km from the mountains to the sea through one of New Zealand’s most remote and beautiful landscapes. You will be immersed in NZ’s back country for 8 days, waking with the sun, rafting on the river, walking in the hills and exploring all the area has to offer.

Te Waiau Toa is the first of OB’s Journey programmes blending elements of a traditional Outward Bound course with the realities of a true wilderness expedition.

A magical and inspiring journey that will provide growth and friendships to last a lifetime. I found clarity and peace that I never thought possible in 8 days. I have learned skills to connect with people and my surroundings in a meaningful and deeper way.

Bookings & Fees

Give us a call on 0800 688 927 to find out our availability for this course.



Te Waiau Toa/Clarence River is an 8-day wilderness river journey where you will learn the technical outdoor skills to navigate new terrain, set up campsites, cook in the outdoors and journey down the river. Disconnect from the urban world and immerse yourself in the natural world.

This journey is suitable for all adults aged 22+. 

The main activity on this trip is rafting. Depending on weather and other conditions, groups may also engage in day hikes and fitness sessions. Please note that while challenging, this trip is slightly less physically demanding than most of our Anakiwa based courses. Nonetheless this course does require a minimum fitness requirement. If you are worried about your fitness level, please call our enrolments team for a chat.

In summary, alongside rafting as the key focus, activities may include:

  • Tramping
  • Camp craft
  • Solo
  • Facilitated Learning activities

Together with up to 15 watchmates, you will learn a variety of life skills, working both together and individually to meet daily goals to move forward on your journey. Your instructors will guide you and teach you how to take care of yourself in the remote environment and you'll come away with a feeling of accomplishment after an adventure you'll never forget. 

Outward Bound is running Te Waiau Toa in partnership with Clarence River Rafting. The expedition will be guided by Clarence River Rafting guides and facilitated by two OB instructors.

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Key outcomes of the Waiau Toa Journey include:

Connection: With your identity, with the people around you and with the natural world.

Purpose: Explore your own personal values and take time to consider their place in your life. Step away from your daily demands to find clarity in who to be moving forward.

Compassion: Show aroha for yourself and others around you.

Resilience: Practice facing challenges in the world with an intentional mindset. Strengthen your capabilities to connect with others in a meaningful way.


What you'll need

When you come on an Outward Bound Journey, there are items that you will need to bring with you and items that we will supply. As for the things that you need to bring - we encourage you to borrow as many items as you can, or buy second hand!

Check out our Journey gear list for a full run down and some hot tips on what to bring and what not to.

Gear List


About Waiau Toa / Clarence River

Waiau Toa / Clarence River is a truly amazing river that twists and turns its way from its source (Lake Tennyson), high at the northern end of the Southern Alps in the Lewis Pass, gradually descending more than one kilometre in altitude throughout its entire 220km course to the Pacific Ocean.

It slices through some of the most remote and spectacular scenery in the upper South Island. Its tortuous journey follows a natural fault line, between two vast mountain ranges, the Inland and Seaward Kaikōura Ranges, the highest peak rising to nearly 10,000 feet, named Tapuae-o-Uenuku, after the celebrated Māori chief.

Its 220km length makes it the eighth longest river in New Zealand. A large part of the river is within the boundaries of Molesworth Station.

In 2018, the name of the river was officially gazetted as Waiau Toa / Clarence River, to reflect its original Māori name. The meaning of Waiau Toa is translated as ‘the tears of the wife of a great Māori chief, Tapuae-o-Uenuku'.


Clarence River Rafting

Te Waiau Toa is being delivered in partnership with Clarence River Rafting who have over 20 years of experience rafting on Waiau Toa / Clarence River.


Waiau toa 2

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What it's really like



Some of our commonly asked questions answered...

You will be collected by shuttle from Christchurch Airport at 10.30am and driven to the raft ‘put-in’ site near Hanmer Springs. Your journey will end north of Kaikōura where you will be collected by shuttle and transported back to Christchurch Airport by 6pm.

Waiau Toa/Clarence is a mix of Grade 1, 2 and 3 rapids. The river is enjoyable, without being too intimidating to people with no rafting experience.

You do not require rafting experience, however, you do need to be comfortable in water. Wetsuits, helmets and life jackets are all provided.

View all our Frequently Asked Questions

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