So a couple of days ago I went white water rafting on the Shotover River in Queenstown. I'd been rafting before so I had a fairly good idea of what to expect although the highest class rapid I had ever tackled previously was a class 3, and this trip went all the way up to 5. And once again, the trip was brilliant. I whole-heartedly recommend anyone heading to Queenstown to do this trip, whatever the season.
The road to the actual rafting site is probably the most terrifying part of the journey though as you drive up the most dangerous road in New Zealand - not suitable for anything other than four wheel drives, and under no circumstance should you be towing a trailer. You traverse this 'road' of course, in a two wheel drive bus, towing a trailer full of rafts. O'rian, our guide and safety kayaker cheerfully pointed out the various edges of the road as 'seven rollers' - meaning it would take seven rolls to get the bottom of the canyon to the side of us, and 'zero rollers' - meaning it's just a sheer drop to the bottom. My personal favourite part of the journey was 'bus scratch corner' which is where the driver needs to throw the front right wheel of the bus off the road, out over the canyon in order to get the bus and trailer around the corner.
The whole tour was remarkably interesting in terms of a historical factor as it was once a mining area and the Shotover River was actually the second highest gold-yielding river in the world, producing around $50m of gold in its mining period. It's also one of the shortest rivers, which is why the Klondike was able to overtake it. The old mining equipment is still there, littering the edges of the river and there are lumps of metal and wood embedded in the rocks beneath the raft as you head downstream. Some of the equipment is so heavy that it hasn't moved since it was put there, despite horrendous floods tearing up the area in the past.
Our cheerful tour guide Tom kept us safe, and moderately dry for the duration of our trip. Considering we were going up against class 5 rapids this time there were a few more commands for me to learn than when I last went. The rapids were amazing, and despite the water having been snow on the mountains less than ten hours previously (and please do believe me, it was seriously cold), it was just ridiculously fun. The grand finale of the trip is by far the best part however, as you all huddle down in the middle of the boat while you go headlong into a 170m man-made tunnel, headed downwards towards your last, and by far best, rapid - Cascade. Cascade is apparently known for flipping rafts, and as soon as you're all out of the tunnel, you have around two seconds to get back on the side, aim it, and then back down and hold the fuck on. Our raft almost flipped, it went right over onto its side, dunking the Alva, the poor girl sat next to me completely under water. We all thought we were going over, Marty, our front guy said afterwards that he was getting ready to bail rather than flip, but we somehow righted ourselves before either of these things happened.
It was an absolutely fantastic trip and if you head to Queenstown at any stage, ever, then make sure you do this because I promise you won't regret it. The only negative factor for me was my own social awkwardness. I was in a boat filled incrediby nice, friendly, interesting people, and yet again my brain managed to employ its usual social function and shut down entirely. It's my most major annoyance that I'm such a social tard. What I should have done was exchange emails at the end of the trip or something like that, and I didn't, because for some reason I am incapable of attempting to make new friends. But on the bright side, that was my last straw. This is now a problem that has hindered me for too long, and it is one that will be getting dealt with.
The only other negative thing I'll say is that I've also got some kind of itchy rash where one of the wet suits touched me - that too is annoying.
If you don't believe me about the raft almost going over at the end by the way, I'll post the pictures and video up as soon as I can, unfortunately the disc they produce is not Mac-compatible. So it'll have to wait a few more days until i"m back in the UK.
Oh gash, I just realised I've pretty much only got today and tomorrow left. Shit.
Someone take me back to Queenstown please, I'm not ready to come home yet.
Taupo would be nice too.