Wild River Ride
Are you an adventure enthusiast? If you are, then you want to be planning a trip to New Zealand. New Zealand is world renown for its adventure activities. In fact, they are the inventors of several adrenaline pumping sports such as bungy jumping, zorbing, and jet boating to name a few. During a recent visit to this incredibly beautiful landscape, my son and I did white water rafting. Rafting, while not invented in New Zealand, is still an incredible rush and great add for one of your afternoons.
We had a short time for this recent visit and kept our activities centered around Rotorua. Rotorua, known for it's sulfur smell, is a geothermal activity hot spot, no pun intended. It is not only a hot spot due to the heat rising from the ground, but it is also a central location in the North Island for trying some of the wild sports that New Zealand has to offer.
We had a Saturday booking with Kaitiaki Adventures to do their Tekau Combo, which is to tandem sky dive in the morning and then raft the Kaituna River in the afternoon. Unfortunately, mother nature saw fit to smother us with clouds and the sky diving did not happen, but our afternoon on the river was wild. It was some of the best fun I've had traveling. I must say a good portion of credit for the afternoon has to go to our world class guide Finn and the wonderful couple we shared our raft with. We were the fun group.
Anyway, a shuttle arrived at Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua to pick us up. On the bus we received a bit of instruction about how the afternoon would go and filled out our release forms. It was a beautiful spring October day and the equipment was set up outside for us to get into. We were donned with wet suites, booties, fleece shells, blue outer shells, helmets, and of course life jackets. Once we were all set, we were back on board a small van with the rafts and gear for another short drive to the Kaituna River.
Once at the river, everyone pitches in carrying the rafts and paddles down to the entry point. An interesting site was seeing three kayakers enter from a shoot up at road level. They went over the edge and plopped into the water. Then it was time for our debriefing of all the things that could go wrong and what to do if one of these things should go wrong, such as falling off the raft into the river or getting caught in the falls. At this point, I think I was almost as nervous as the day before when I was preparing to Bungy jump (which I did and survived, but that is a tale for another day).
Into the raft we went, a traditional blessing was said to pay respect to the river and to her people the Ngati Hinerangi & Ngati Hinekiri, then plop into the water it dropped and we started off on our one hour trip. The river snakes through bush clad canyons with several water fall drops with Tutea Falls at 7m being the highlight. It was great fun and we learned a couple tribal words and chants while having some great competition going with our fellow travelers in the second raft. The ride down was beautiful, wild, and wet. As we went over the falls, the front of the raft would dip under the rapids. When we did the amazing drop down the Tutea, our raft was completely immersed in the river waters which was such an exhilarating experience as we popped out from beneath the froth.
We took some rapids standing, we tried to reenter others dipping us beneath the water, and we continued to try and out do the other raft. It was a competition of which group was most fun and daring. I learned on this trip to be thankful for listening to directions and be careful when someone says, "Who is from Tennessee?". My answer of yes, would get me a ride on the front of the raft. Not in the well, but up on the bow rodeo style screaming and a swinging my arm as if I was on a bull. I was all in, as I yelled out to the other raft, "ride a cowboy, save a horse", and then I really was all wet as our guide Finn had my son push me overboard. We were all in fits of laughter. Talk about a wild ride. With no rush, my raft mates rescued me and I was once again on board. It was an experience I would highly recommend for any traveler.
We were all sorry to see the fun end, but ended the day with group photos before returning to the shop to unload gear. A photographer was with the group the whole time, so we were able to take home some great shots of this wild river ride!
Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, and WI. She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds. Her agency’s focus is on creating itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind. She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember. With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide ride of leisure vacation planning.