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NorWest Adventures. You might actually pray for rain during a tour with NorWest Adventures. This popular adventure tour group takes you into the rain forest off the main highway at Charleston. You can sign up for an open-sided bush-train ride through the dense temperate lowland forest, or take a cave walk into one of the giant limestone mountains up the Nile River valley (a glowworm grotto is a highlight). Their most popular trip is a stunning slow drift in a raft through the glowworm caves before breaking out onto the river (four-hour trip costs $165). For something more challenging, go for the day-long "Full On" caving adventure with a 47-meter (154-foot) abseil (rappel) down into the mountain, before crawling, swimming, and climbing your way back to the surface. Prices range from $20 for the train ride to $330 for the "Full On" adventure; reservations are essential. Charleston Hotel, Main Rd., Charleston, 7865. 03/788–8168. www.caverafting.com.
Buller Adventure Tours. Buller Adventure Tours at the lower end of the Buller Gorge, before you reach Westport, runs jet-boating and rafting on various parts of the river and horse treks and quad-bike tours in the surrounding bush. Try the Earthquake Slip Rapids section, which includes some Grade IV water, a Grade II swim rapid, and a 9-meter (27-foot) cliff jump. They also run the Earthquake Rapids trip from Murchison. State Hwy. 6, Lower Buller Gorge, Westport, 7892. 03/789–7286 or 0800/697–286. www.adventuretours.co.nz. Trips start from $75.
OutWest Tours. OutWest Tours run several interesting tours into the back country, making good use of their off-road and 4WD vehicles. Micky will get you up to Denniston in style, or give you a local's tour of some of the mining sites, which are such a key part of the area's economy and some of its most dramatic locations. Give him a call and remind him the day before your trip is planned. 0800/688–9378. www.outwest.co.nz.
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