Underworld Rafting

Experience a Cave Rafting adventure like no other – complete with spectacular formations, water-sculpted canyons and one of the World’s best GlowWorm displays.

Half way between Punakaiki and Westport, in the spectacular Paparoa National Park, lies the untouched Metro / Te Ananui cave, your gateway to the memories of a lifetime with the award-winning Underworld Rafting.

This is untamed, natural adventure at its best. Discover why!

NZD $215 / adult

NZD $170 / child (16 Years old and under)

Family NZD $695 (2 adults, 2 children)

Key information

  • Must be 10 years or over
  • Water confidence required
  • Some fitness required as there are 132 steps to climb to the cave
  • Just bring your Swimwear and a towel – we’ll provide all other equipment
  • Allow 4 hours from our Underworld Adventure Centre in Charleston
  • Trips depart 9am & 11.30am Summer (October to April – Daylight Savings Time) and 10 am Winter ( May to September)
  • We photograph your trip and provide free downloads

Important Note: If you are booking an adventure within 24 hours of intended departure – please call us now on +64 3 7888168

About the activity

A person in wetsuit and helmet enjoying floating down rapids

Your Underworld Rafting adventure starts with your friendly, local guide at our modern base in Charleston. They’ll provide you with all of the specialised gear you need to stay safe and warm and brief you on the adventure ahead. Dressed and ready for your experience, it’s just a short drive in our van to the Nile River Rainforest Trains, Dorothy and Cecil. They will take you deep into the stunning West Coast Rainforest with towering limestone cliffs and prolific native wildlife.

A short walk leads to the entrance of the Metro Cave / Te Ananui, high above the Nile / Waitakere River. Stepping into this subterranean wonderland, you will explore a calcite paradise of stalactites and stalagmites, cross huge chambers, follow a maze of passages and wander through the heart of an ancient multi-level cave system. Enriched with stories and explanations from your knowledgeable guide, your ultimate destination is an underground lake in an enormous cavern.

Here you’ll find our famous galaxies of GlowWorms, where they line the entire roof of the cavern. We’ll navigate by their constellations through the awe-inspiring display and gently float on the lake to the resurgence of the streamway.

You leave this special place floating in your tube down the fun but gentle rapids of the pristine Nile / Waitakere River surrounded by the lush rain forest. Returning with the Rainforest Train back to Charleston for a hot shower, this special place remains hidden, but your memories will stay forever.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Prefer to stay dry? Try our GlowWorm Cave Tour – set in the same stunning Te Ananui / Metro Cave system, this all-ages tour encompasses beautiful formations, fascinating information from our knowledgeable guides and of course our world-famous GlowWorm display!

Risk disclosure statement

Please be honest if you are unable to meet any of the following conditions as your inability to do so could put yourself and others at risk.

This activity requires “YOU”, the participant, to…

  • Have a reasonable standard of fitness (comparable to being able to “walk unassisted for up to two hours”). There is a risk of stumbling, falling or slipping whilst walking through the cave which has the potential to cause a serious medical injury/misadventure.
  • Be able to understand and follow instructions given to you by your Guide. This includes being sober and not under the influence of any substance that may impede your ability to safely navigate the cave and to follow instructions. (Failure to do so could put you and your party at considerable risk).

Should you have any doubts as to your ability to participate or follow instruction please call us on +6437888168 NOW for further advice and discussion.


  • Changing into a two piece 5mm wetsuit, complete with wet suit socks, boots & gloves. You will also be provided with a helmet (with light) and life jacket.
  • A 10-min drive and a 15 min Train Ride into the Nile River Canyon.
  • Carrying an inner tube across the Nile River and up 131 steps (equivalent to a 6-7 story building) to the cave entrance.
  • Carrying your inner tube over natural unformed surfaces, both to the cave, then through the large, highly decorated upper cave passages, where it is possible to slip, trip or otherwise fall.
  • Floating through large GlowWorm-lit grottos, and paddling through the cave exit to the Nile River in your tube.
  • Traversing a 700 m section of the Waitekeri/Nile River, including 4 short, shallow rapids and several deeper, still pools.
  • Returning to our base by train and minibus.

Normal River Flow: In normal river flow the rapids are short and shallow. You can stand and walk to the water’s edge if required.

Medium River Flow: In medium river flow the rapids are fast and flushing. It is not possible to stand in the moving water and you are required to be confident in water in order to participate.

High River Flow: The Te Ananui Stream and Nile River sections of the trip will be cancelled when the river is in High Flow.

While  not usual, there is a possibility that you may fall out of your tube while on the moving water. Should you fall out of your tube you may be under the water for a short time and you will need to be able to swim with your tube to the water’s edge to get back into your tube. For this reason you should be confident in water.

There are no handrails, walkways or infrastructure inside the cave to assist you. You should therefore be confident with your footing and happy to navigate uneven surfaces and steps.

Underworld Adventures has a comprehensive Safety Management Plan and all guides are trained in how to avoid and mitigate identified risks.