One of the things I wanted to get off my bucket list was going white water rafting. That’s what I did yesterday on the Kaituna river near Rotorua, NZ.
I was picked up from my hostel. Then we picked up about 10-15 Chinese from a hotel. They were traveling with a bunch of little kids and most of them didn’t speak English. They were very loud and excited. It was quite chaotic in the bus towards the river.
The driver was a cool guy. I liked the way he messed with the Chinese woman who sat next to him and kept asking questions. He said ‘The river is very safe. We have a very high survival rate of 60%.’ And to every safety related question the answer was “Very dangerous” with a big smile. It was funny as hell.
After our short bus trip we put on our gear – a helmet, safety shoes and life jackets. The Asians took lots of pics. I was the only one who didn’t fit in with them. I went rafting alone with 5 Chinese men but they had their fanclub of women and kids with them. We got a bit of training and after a Karakia (Maori prayer) we got into the boat. Since I was the only one who understood English I was lucky enough to be in the front of the boat. Sweet!!!
The first drops were nice and small and we practiced paddling and positioning in the boat during big waterfall drops. All of this was quite entertaining. In fact it was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while.
Then the river went silent. The ‘driver’ of the boat said that place was called the quiet before the storm. We went ashore with the boat and the guy said this is the last place on the river where you can turn around. There was a trail going up the riverbank for people who chickened out. Another Karakia later and we were in the river again going down the 7 m waterfall drop (the biggest one on this river). Before the drop the instructor said three scenarios can happen after that drop:
1) The boat will stay nicely afloat with everybody in it. (Boooooooooooooring)
2) The boat will stay afloat but some of you guys will fall into the water and will need to do some swimming to safety (still boring)
3) The boat will flip over and everybody falls into the water. And when he did the rock-n-roll horns with his hands… saying that this is the coolest of our options.
I was secretly hoping for option #3 but thought that one wasn’t very likely.
We started paddling towards the waterfall, got into position for the drop and off we went all screaming like little schoolgirls AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We slammed headfirst into the water. I think the whole boat submerged for a couple of seconds and then as it bounced out of the water it flipped over. It was so cool! Just look at the horror on our faces in the pictures below. I loved it. This is living kids! I felt alive!!!
One guy was floating around the boat with his face in the water. I thought he lost consciousness or something and reached out to get his head out of the water (see pics). Luckily he snapped out of it and was OK. That guy scared the crap out of me.
Alrighty, we helped eachother into the boat and continued down the river and other waterfalls. The journey was finished by some ‘surfing’. We got the nose of the boat close to a small waterfall and if positioned correctly the boat would just stay near the waterfall and would move from side to side (surfing). Sometimes a lot of water would come into the boat and the nose would get heavy and lift the back end of the boat – that created some cool bumpy action. It was very entertaining. I loved it!
I’m glad I did such an awesome thing on the last day of 2013. It was an amazing experience!
Happy New Year everybody!!!
Ivar the greatest white water rafter in the Big White Cloud