Sunday, 17 January 2010

Water torture

I've stopped at Dunedin to catch my breath after the first few days of my backpacker bus adventure, and it's been action all the way!  There were 32 of us on board, 26 of whom had been together since Auckland.  Stepping on the bus was a little intimidating, but a couple of hours in I'd got a few names and faces sorted out, and after a wet night under canvas we were all bonding like nobody's business.  And the bonding continued the following morning, when we went white-water rafting down Rangitata Gorge...

This was an extraordinary experience.  We were squeezed into wetsuits and thermal clothes, and then bussed down to the river and divided into four rafts.  On mine were Matt (terrified of water, poor chap - he was talked into it by his mates), Lina from Sweden, Ros from the UK, Jimmy, our Flying Kiwi guide, and Ben, the rafting guide.  Off we headed onto beautiful calm water, and were given lessons in what to do once the water got choppy (hold on and get down, and paddle for your life were the main instructions).  And the first two rapids were cool - water in the face, bounced around, getting the blood flowing...  However, these were only Grades I and II, and there was more to come.

The next one was Grade III, and we hit a wave wrong and the three of us on the left-hand side of the boat went into the water (me, Matt - now scarred for life - and Lina).  And that was OK, once you clawed your way to the surface - we were all wearing life jackets and helmets, and all you had to do was float on your back with your feet facing forward until someone could come by and haul you onto the raft again.  Easy as.  But the Grade Vs were yet to come...

The first one was a cinch - we stopped beforehand and were given the choice as to whether or not to continue, and it was only 60m long and frankly didn't look as bad as the Grade III, so we headed back onto the raft and went through it beautifully, without a single mishap.  At the next stop, Lina and Matt got out, but I stayed on, figuring that I'd already been in the water once, so how bad could it be?  Very, I discovered, as I bounced out at the top of the 350m Grade V rapids and went down on my arse, sans boat, for the rest of them.  Bloody terrifying - particularly the waterfall, which I could see coming!  No one was able to throw me a safety rope until the end, by which time I was a sorry state - all snot and hyperventilation, though the rush of wellbeing once I was on dry land again was incomparable.  I think the appeal of these adrenalin activities is not so much the activities themselves, as the enormous relief once they're over and you're alive!  People were very impressed with my calmness - I even held onto the paddle, for heavens' sake - and I'm glad I've done it, but I will never do it again.  And just for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of the photos - the rest are on Flickr (I'm in the green helmet, heading into the water).  God bless dry land!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you have invented a new sport - well done, you!