Day 8 - Rafting Adventures
We woke early, bladders bursting, and decided to get up and make the most of the day ahead. We had rafting booked in at 2.00pm so had the morning to utilise. We grabbed breakfast of granola and yoghurt and a hot cuppa tea, planning our itinerary as we ate. Clarkey had her nose deep in a guide book so glancing casually out the window Holly suddenly shouted "OMG, don't open the door but come and look". Thinking a very large Labrador was mooching around outside the door, to Holly's astonishment, when it's head raised, it turned out to be a blonde, furry pot bellied pig snuffling around for scraps. It trotted merrily around the camper and off up the road..add to that we were cashed by chickens when we exited the toilet in the morning, it was turning into a right barnyard festival.
Clarkey had found an adventure for us to undertake, so we hit the road heading for Tongariro National Park. She had noted a 30 minute trail for us to walk, which should give good views of the 3 sleeping volcanos. A 40 minute drive through winding roads in Kylie, we arrived at 11:00 ready to start our trek. The sign at the beginning suggested a 1 hour round trip, which was longer then the guide book suggested, so we marched off up the steep path, double time. To our utter amazement, at 11:17 we had reached the top...so much for an hour walk. To add to that, the clouds we so low that we could only see the trees and vegetation within the first 200m. Whilst it was lovely, there really wasn't much to see so we headed back down and reached the bottom by 11.30; from here we jumped in the camper and headed back to Turangi ready for WWR.
Eager not to be late we arrived at the rafting centre in plenty of time, enough time in fact to cook up a quick sausage sarnie to keep us alive...at least we wouldn't starve during our white water rafting trip!
At 13:45 we walked to the reception point and signed our life away by accepting the T&Cs. More and more people filtered through the doors, from all over the globe, making the head account of rafters about 30. Once everyone had arrived we drank tea and listened to the briefing about what to expect and were told what gear we need to wear and how to put it on. We both grabbed a helmet, life vest, wetsuit, fleece, jacket and boots, and went to the changing room to don our kit. Kit on and feeling entirely claustrophobic, we all boarded the dodgy old school bus, circa 1975, and made the 15 minute trip to the start of our rafting adventure.
On arrival, each group posed for a photo whilst the guides split us into boat teams. The guide grouped us with two Italians and to Haitians, and our guide was Christi (Canadian/ Kiwi/ Californian), who was very bubbly, loud and enthusiastic. The 7 of us picked up the boat and walked it, rather too quickly, down a steep gravel path to our starting point. On the way down Christi gave some key instructions for us to follow such as forwards, backwards, hold on, get down and slide, it was rather a lot to take in. But that was all the training we got, we were straight in the boat and heading down a class 3 rapid.
Our two hour trip along the rapids was fun, enthralling, scary and exhilarating. Clarkey took the front spot with a weak Italian bloke, who couldn't row in time. We got stuck on rocks, smashed into walls, completely submerged at one point and went down quite a few Rapids backwards, much to Christi's delight. Halfway along and already knackered, we came to a calm bit of water where we parked up and were encouraged to jump from a small cliff into the deep, clear water (which is so fresh to can drink straight from the river). Determined not to wimp out, Holly was straight up the cliff and in the queue to jump. The jump was four meters above the water, it felt like ten, and though slightly calm water lay below, the Rapids were close by and could sweep us away if timed badly. With all this shooting through Holly's mind, it was too late and she was at the front and holding everyone up. The guide said run and jump, Holly walked and pencil jumped, straight legs, arms tucked in. The rush of water was amazing and instantly filled up the wetsuit. Clarkey then followed with slightly more trepidation, bombing in with legs tucked up.
We got back in the boats and headed down stream again, Holly now at the front with the equally lame Italian woman. The river wasn't so punishing but the weak Italian kept letting go and falling in the boat. Much water was taken direct in the face but it was so enjoyable.
With a quiet stretch of river giving us some welcome respite, Christi took the opportunity to offer some very much welcomed chocolate and hot chocolate treats! Genuinely the best tasting instant, flask and plastic cup, hot chocolate ever tasted but there wasn't much time to savour this before it was back to work again! I couldn't tell you all the names of the rapids but I know we conquered 'The roller coaster', 'double barrel' and the aptly named 'b****' before we made it back to dry land. Tired and flagging we hauled the raft back up the from the landing point to the waiting buses and trailers and were driven back to base to change and refuel on the bread, ham and cheese provided.
Rather than go back for seconds, we hit the road once more, keen to get ahead of time and find a spot to camp as close to tomorrow's destination as possible. Holly had found a freedom camping site on the outskirts of Whangenui, just 2.5 hours south and about half way to Wellington.