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Owen's Travel Journal

Rapid in Rotorua

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 1 April 2009 | Views [814]

This morning I had no time to get breakfast. That was not good. At 7.30am we all checked out from the hostel in Mercury Bay and made our way along the long road to Rotorua.

After about 2 and a half hours of trying to keep myself awake we arrived at our first stop, the town of Paeora, famous for the New Zealand soft drink; Lemon & Paeora. I grabbed a coffee and a roll which set me up much better for my day.

Back on the bus we went and drove about 10 mintues to the nearby Karangahake Gorge. Obviously its a gorge with a river flowing through but the scenery was amazing. The area used to be used for mining so the walk that we went on took us up round the railway track and through mining tunnels. The vies from the top were stunning, looking down onto the river and the rocks below, with huge cliff faces on either side.

Back on the bus a form was passed round giving us the option of a few activities we could sign ourselves up for in Rotorua. There is quite a bit to do and see in the town which, unfortunately, I will probably miss out on, like the geothermal park with its gysers and mud pools and I also passed on a Moari concert type thing that's on tonight since it was a bit on the expensive side. I did however put my name right down for some white water rafting.

Our final stop before Rotorua was a small town called Matamata, famous mainly because it was used for the filming of the Shire in Lord of the Rings. I would have been well up for seeing where Hobbiton was filmed but it's a bit outside of town and you would have to book a tour there. They do have a sign and a statu which was a bit naff but better than nothing! Cheese toasty for lunch then back to the bus and off to Rotorua.

We arrived at our new hostel, run by ACB the same as in Auckland, called Hot Rock. It's much smaller than the one in Auckland and much less homely than the one in Mercury Bay. A pretty average hostel really but nice enough, and it has an outdoor pool that I might have to go check out. Since the land around Rotorua has a lot of geothemral activity, the first thing you notice when you step outside is the smell. Sulphur is a bit yucky.

I just had enough time to get sorted with my room and dump my bags when the van arrived to take the 3 people who had signed up for white water rafting today, out to their base. The guy who picked us up was very kiwi, nice guy and told us loads about the area and about what we would be doing on the way out. We arrived at the base and were introduced to the 2 guides who would be on the raft with us and also met another 2 older guys who had just done the rafting and wanted to do it again!

We were giving a fleece, a wet suit, a splash jacket thing, some rediculous wet boots and a life vest and helmet and were sent off to the changing rooms to get into them. I looked like a spanner and the wet suit was so uncomfertable around my packace. It was also too small on my legs, nevermind!

We were loaded into their bus, which had our raft attached to the back and drove about 10 minutes away from their base to the Kaituna river. The route we were rafting has 3 waterfalls, a 4 and 1/2 meter one, a 1 meter one and the big one at the end which is 7 meters, the biggest commercial waterfalls that you can white water raft in New Zealand and, apparently, one of the bigger ones in the world. We helped carry the boat and paddles down to the water and jumped on. For some reason I was pretty calm which suprised me loads. Maybe the sea kayaking from the day before had given me a boost in water confidence.

Our guides were really really awesome guys, both from New Zealand themselves. They were really layed back, in a good way, and just up for having a bit of a laugh. They had told us some saftey stuff on the bus and then, when we were all in the boat we were given some quick lessons on what we were to do and what we had to do when the guides gave a certain command. We did some practices to make sure everyone knew what we were doing and then we were off.

We went down some lighter rapids at first which wernt too bad, it's suprising how well you stay in the baot considering yous sit right on the edge, you have your foot hooked under the seat infront though so your pretty secure. The scenery around was really amazing too, loads of green on both sides of the gorge.

We came to our first waterfall, which was the 4 and 1/2 meter one, and prepared ourselves to go down. When our guide shouted get down we had to hold onto the side of the boat with one hand, a strap on the floor with the other, then sit on the lfoor and tuck up into a ball which was really hard with long legs. I failed a bit the first time and smacked my head into Kate who was sitting in front of me, woops! Luckily neither of us were hurt too bad.

We paddled and bumped our way down the rest of the river; stopping off at different parts where the guides taught us a bit about the Maori history of the river, said some Moari prayer type things and did some group cheers and stuff, it was interesting and really good fun.

We got to the top of the 7 meter waterfall and i was a bit on the nervous side now. There is no way of being sure that the raft is going to go down smoothly and land at the bottom the right way up. We learned after the trip that 2 out of 5 boats flip over. It was made worse by the fact that the 2 guys who had already been down before us really wanted to tip the boat over. We went for it, did our little tuck down thing, which i managed this time, and landed pretty smoothly, with loads of water up my nose. It was so so so good.

At the bottom we had a bit celebration and then surfed the waterfall we had come down, where you paddle into it and the font kind of goes up, which was cool. There was still a bit left to go down the river, including some pretty steep rapids where 3 of us were chucked out of the boat. We lay there and floated down for a little while which was cool and then were pulled back into the boat. Right at the end we did some crazy stuff like going down rapids standing up for a bit of a laugh. It was all so so relaxed and amazing fun.

We took the boat out of the water at the other end and headed back to the base to get dry and changed. Photographs had been taken of us on our way round by their photographer and I was about to buy the disk when one of the women who was with us said I could just nick hers! It would take all day to put all of the photos up on here so I'll have to show everyone when I get home.

It's been such a good day and im having so much more fun now that I'm out of Auckland. Tonight I'm gonna take a wander into town to see what its like, buy some rolls and get rid of the last of my veggie burgers. Possibly going to check out the bar next door when everyone comes back from the Moari cultural thing.

Fairly early start tomorrow morning at 8.30 where we're off to Waitomo.



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