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Thursday 14 Mar 2013
Rangitata, New Zealand

White water madness

My final stop on the Stray Bus was in the Canturbury plains at a former sheep station called Rangitata.  This turned out to be one of the best stops on the whole trip.  The Stray drivers had been talking up the rafting here for the last couple of weeks and it was worth the wait.  The river starts off flat and gentle, which gave us plently of time to learn how to paddle and what the different commands meant, as well as how to get back into the raft after swimming.  I learned how easily my left contact lens liked to explore the back of my eyeball and how many times I needed to blink to get it back again.

The first few rapids were grade 3 - mostly just bouncy water with a few small drops - but still lots of fun.  Our guide, Blair, was a lot of fun and kept the more nervous paddlers at ease the whole time.  When we reached the grade 5 section in the gorge, we got out to look at the rapid and watch the other rafts go through.  I'm always in two minds about whether this is a good thing or not, especially when the first raft got their line a bit wrong and got themselves stuck in the stopper under the drop (where the water recirculates back on itself and stops the raft floating free).  They eventually got out with the help of a few throwlines from the shore.  I wasn't too bothered by this after years of kayaking, but a couple of our group started to get even more nervous.  Luckily the secod raft made it through easily and then it was our turn.  Blair decided to try a new line completely, sending us over the drop with screams and beaming smiles.  So much fun!!

The next grade 5 rapid was a bit longer and more technical, but just as much fun.  My contact lens took another strategic detour around my eyeball but I managed to get it back again and gave it a stern talking to.

We all swam down the next section of the river while the guides took care of the rafts.  The water was cold (glacial melt water after all) but very refreshing. After that we came to the jumping cliffs - a 5m and 10m jump into the river.  Everyone did the 5m jump while the photographer captured the action from across the river.  I had great plans to do a star jump until I got to the edge and realised that 5m is a lot higher than it looked from underneath.  I settled for holding my nose and squealing instead - Tom Daley would have been proud!  I surfaced grinning happily, reinstated my contact lens yet again, then headed back up to the 10m cliff.  For this one, I had every intention of not looking down, just stepping out and jumping... After the 4th attempt to trick my legs into moving before my brain and stomach realised what I was doing, I meekly gave up and headed back to the 5m cliff again.  Two 5m jumps are the same as one 10m jump, right?

Back at the lodge, the rafters laid on a huge sausage barbeque for us and showed us the photos from the day's trip, which we all wanted copies of.  That evening we gathered around the 40" telly for a movie night of Valentines Day and The Hangover.  A nice chilled evening for my farewell to the South Island and my new Stray friends.

There was a beautiful sunrise the next morning.  I stood on the decking watching the pink and orange streaks get brighter and brighter while talking to Mum in London.  She was with my sister-in-law and nephews still, so she gave Daniel the phone and he sang 'Horsey, Horsey, don't you stop' to me.  The last time I heard him sing this he had the tune and most of the words, but this time his voice was so clear that before I knew it, I was standing there with tears streaming down my face... When Mum realised I was crying, I think I set her off too! Luckily the bus started up at that moment, which was my cue to pull muself together and jump on board.  A magical moment to finish my trip.

 

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Zobeedoo's Big World Adventure, Part I

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    New Zealand

    Rangitata Rafts
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    Rangitata

    New Zealand

    Rangitata Rafts
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    Rangitata

    New Zealand

    Rangitata Rafts