NZ road trip: White water rafting

Queenstown. (Cont.)

White water rafting

Well, this was the activity that was scaring me half to death. I’m not a fan of excitable bodies of water, and I was so worried that I was going to be the one falling overboard into a white wash of a gushing river.

The journey began with the wetsuits, booties and helmets being delegated to us. Already, I was dreading it. The changing rooms were a mine field and an environment I simply was not accustomed to. Nevertheless, I got into my gear, reunited with Reece and his friends, and boarded the bus. The bus that was going to take us through a mountain range to the uncontrollable river.

The bus teetered around the mountains on narrow, unmade tracks – with some near-misses with oncoming traffic on the way! When I thought I couldn’t sweat enough in my wetsuit, I found myself getting zipped up in my lifejacket.

“Is that tight enough,” the boat man said as he harnessed me into the life jacket.
“No,” I replied mildly, with my life jacket riding up on either side of my face as I struggled to draw a breath.
“…can you breathe?” he said rather stunned as he double-checked the tightness of the buckles.
I gave a wheezy chuckle and replied: “It’s fine,” and turned abruptly so he couldn’t loosen what was my only chance of surviving this nightmare.

I waddled up to Reece who promptly hit my lifejacket with a wooden ore and laughed.

Our sailor lady was an enthusiastic American who liked to talk a lot. I appreciated her stories, but quite frankly, I was too busy thinking about survival.

We got into the boat and began practicing our steering and coordination. As I put my ore into the water I realised that the water was less that a foot deep. It was then that the guide explained that the drought had caused the river to drop, and that this experience was not going to be as difficult as it usually is.

Once we got into the swing of controlling the boat, the first of six ‘rapids’ approached. All I’m saying is that I’m pleased I went to the toilet before the ride, because I was petrified.

We came in at the rapids at speed, the guide was shouting over the rush of the water with strict instructions, which we obeyed. The boat began to turn unexpectedly, and then BAM! We were wedged between a rock and a hard place at the precipice of a small – but messy- waterfall.

As the boat came to an abrupt halt, everyone toppled on top of each other. I grabbed hold of the rope on the boat and held on for dear life. All I remember thinking was: “Don’t let me be the only one in the water! I don’t want to go in the water!” 

(Despite the water being knee-deep, but hey-ho.)

The guide looked stunned as she called to her co-workers for assistance. We had to paddle back to try and unhinge the boat off the rock. It seemed like eternity, but the water soon swung our boat around.

Well if that was how the first rapids were, imagine what the next five were going to be like.

My mouth was dry and my toes were numb as I tucked them tightly beneath the seat in front.

After a pleasant journey bobbing down the river and enjoying the scenery, my daydream was interrupted by the guide shouting:

“Congrats! you all survived the second rapids!”

Well, apparently the water levels were so unexpectedly low, that the subsequent rapids were merely a mild bob over the pebbles.

Despite the disappointment, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history while we were rowing down the river. It used to be a place where gold miners would work and their old machinery were dotted on either side of the river. Whenever a large rainfall/landslide/earthquake happens, the river would change course and unearth more hidden gold mining machinery. Fascinating!

So after all that fretting, the white water rafting was more of a scenic tour. But hey, at least I feel more confident about doing another white water rafting trip in the future. Perhaps one with more water involved.