With a fresh cup of coffee, a coke, and a light breakfast we set off to find our adventure for the day which was not so warm or dry. We gathered at the shop to head off to see the the adventure that most are frightened to think about, and that I have always been scared to try due to my back. My back and cold water have never mixed well, at all. There was a quote just outside the gathering point that said "life begins where your comfort zone ends''. So like any challenge one faces we headed off with nervous but excited spirits. I won't lie I was more than nervous, scared would be correct adjective.
As we arrived and collected the gear, one could only think with this much gear required this MUST be a dangerous. We shortly loaded on the bus to the launching point. Along the way we passed the fields that were speckled with the New Zealand sheep and green lush fields of kale, turnips, and other vegetation that is grown mostly for winter feed before the green is covered in a blanket of snow. As we made our way off the main road, our guide informed us of a sign that states that all rental insurance ends here. Not thinking of the mountainside road ahead we did not give it much thought, but as we wound our way along the cliff side road you could see why, with every turn you would clinch the seat in hopes that a car was not coming around the bend. Then from turn to nail biting turn you would look out the window only to see no road below, check out video in post. Every now and then you would see some wild sheep grazing along the extremely steep side of the mountain as if they were grazing in the flats of the valleys.
Arriving to the bank of the frigid waters, the guides split us off into teams for our journey ahead. The guides came around and personally checked everyone's helmet, wet suit, wet shoes, water proof jacket, life jacket, and knowledge of how to hold a paddle. While they checked your gear every guide asked you if you could swim. At this point of the adventure, scared would no longer be the correct adjective. Our boat captain for the adventure went by the name of Chief and he was a rather entertaining character that had a laugh like Rafiki off the Lion King. He could tell I was a little scared, and sat me close to him in the boat. He assured me we would be ok, "it was his first day,"
We shoved off the bank toward the lower banks floating back and forth playing what seemed like a game of leap frog amongst the other boats. Some boats broke out singing Belgium pop songs, 90's hits, and others quiet as a church mouse scared of what rapid was around the next bend. Chief was preparing us up river as we did drills to get ready for the rapids below. He would tell us to lean left, hold, down, and other commands that were essential during the rapids to avoid flipping over. Passing a few difficult spots mid river he also found the command, "Come on Josh, paddle harder" as he was the only guy on our side of the boat. Turn by turn and rapid after rapid we got down, leaned left or right as Chief would command loudly as the freezing water splashed as high to only rain down inside our rain jumpers. We do not have an professional pictures because me being a scaredy cat, I got down so low, I was not in any pictures. As soon as the water came in and Chief gave the down command, I was gone. His addictive Rafiki laugh rang out as we worked down the river and through each rapid. After one of the bigger rapids we tied up our boat and waited on the other groups to pass the narrow rapids, which proved to be challenging for all but for a boat load of Belgium boys it was rather terrifying as their raft tipped, putting them into the fridged water. Their faces showed terror as they came out of the bottom rapid, and their female boat captain wrestled the raft to tip it back over.
Approaching the end of the river we saw a cave approach and Chief told us to prepare as we entered the football field length narrow cave. As we approached the end we saw the final rapid that was a relief in a way and sad as it noted the end of the trip. Paddles high five in the air as we made it the entire river without tipping over exclaimed Chief. We pulled out boat ashore and dumped off our gear for a quick shower.
The bus arrived back in town and we of course had to get another Fergburger. With our bellies full and desert to enjoy while sitting on the pier, we enjoyed the afternoon in a relaxing way by taking in the town sites.
With my ADD, I soon got board and we headed off to the small quit town of Arrowtown. We explored the historic town while taking in a pizza at the New Orleans hotel. Before getting in the car to drive back we went down to the river and explored like kids, helped burn the extra calories. The night was setting in and it was time to head back to the flat for a quick sleep for an EARLY morning rise.
Still working on the GoPro skills...enjoy
Sorry, we have no action shots. Like I said, "I was scared!" Every time our guide yelled down, I got down so far the camera guy couldn't catch a photo. Maybe next time.