It was when my white water rafting instructor explained how to swim down a rapid if I popped out of the raft, that I started to wonder whether booking onto level 3 for my first attempt, was a wise choice.
I’ve been a lifeguard, count myself as a strong swimmer and lately have even taken to synchronised swimming, but I honestly felt apprehensive of this water expedition; given the briefing.
Kitted in helmet, wetsuit, water boots and a life jacket, we took a short bus ride to the Tongariro River on our New Zealand tour, where we eventually planted the raft into the water and got in. My husband forced us to sit at the front, despite my somewhat futile protestations and pointing out that my coordination wasn’t brilliant. Eventually I resigned to the front seat and was issued a paddle.
Off we set with a family of four and our instructor from Rafting New Zealand to float a robust, boat-shaped balloon down 50 or more rapids. Our instructor guided us through each step of the river journey, hailing commands from the rear and ensuring we avoided dangers; namely rocks. After conquering each rapid, we raised our paddles for a team high five before continuing on our way.
It sounds simple, but to succeed at rafting, you have to stay in the boat. The problem is there are no seats to speak of, no seat belts therefore and the most you can hope for is a foot hold. Thankfully this was just enough to keep my bum in the boat.
On one of the more ambitious rapids, our boat crashed into the cliff face, bent in half and then snapped back to shape. This was all meant to happen and though I exaggerated on it bending in half, hurtling towards a rock wall wasn’t the most enjoyable moment of the trip. Better, was the icy water that spewed up over the front of the boat to slap me in the face for a morning wake-up call! (Somehow it drenched just me. Ironic.)
Despite that though, it seems white water rafting has it all – fun, adrenaline and beautiful scenery, so I genuinely loved my first white water rafting experience and am certainly keen to set off again…now I only need to find the funds to fly myself to New Zealand again… (sigh!)