Most companies are open all winter. If you are in the right place at the right time you may get work. I'd look for work in either Queenstown, RotaRua, or possibly Murchinson. RotaRua has the Kaituna, Rangitakie, and Wairoa. Which are considered V and rafted by many tourist. Queenstown has the Shotover and others(not sure?), they also raft many tourist (including Kiwi bus). Murchinson has the Bula and access to West coast paddling (there may be kayak instruction openings).
Although they raft in Winter, not many staff are on hand. Summer season starts in December thru end of Feb. You should get there in October to start looking for work. If all fails go to the Tully and Noth Johnston in Australia, almost gauranteed to get work with the number of boats they run. Sure others on the buzz will have more to add.
Hope this is useful. cheers
Where you go really depends on what you're into. If you're a park and play sort of monkey, stay up in the north Island around Rotorua, you'll have tons of Aukland city-folk to go with.
If you're an intermediate to advanced river runner sort of person, make your way to Murchison on the south island, home to the New Zealand Kayak School. It's got a bunch of pretty good play and more than a dozen III/IV runs within an hour's drive.
If you're a creeker, just park your a$$ in Hokitika for December through February. There are more fly-in, drive-in, and walk-in rivers and steep creeks within 100 km of that town than in all of Colorado. The camping is cheap and the bar is just across the street from the campground. Legendary.
Wherever you go, pick up a copy of Graham Charles' excellent river guide to the two islands. Up there with the CRC and the maps by the late great William Nealey, it's one of the better river guides that I've seen put together.
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