February 7. I was woken by my alarm clock at 8am this morning. We didn’t need to leave until 10:30am, but I wanted to go for another run this morning, because I didn’t know when I would be able to next. So I went for a run and by the time I came back to take a shower, breakfast was ready. Today we finally had a real breakfast. We have been living off toast, jelly, and bran cereal for the past 6 days. Erik cooked us bacon, egg, and cheeses, a much better alternative. Yet again we hopped in the van and drove 2 hours.
We arrived at a white water rafting facility, which I was pumped about. This was one of the experiences I was looking forward to the most. We were given wetsuits, life jackets, booties, and helmets and we were introduced to our guide. His name was Ben, a really cool and nice aussie. On the way to the river he gave us the usual safety and rowing instructions for rafting. I was too engrossed in my own excitement to hear much of this however. I was disappointed, however, when I saw the river. It looked more like the Lazy River from Splish Splash. The guide seemed to see the disappointment in my eyes because he said “Mate, I can’t wait to see your expression when we round the bend.”
We were then split up into groups of 7 with 1 guide. My group carried the raft into the calm waters and swung ourselves into the boat. When instructed to, we rowed like a well-oiled rafting machine. Upon rounding the bend I realized why Ben wanted to see my expression. My jaw dropped in exclamation. “We got some class 4 rapids coming up!” bellowed the instructor. Class 5 is the highest class of rapids and is only attempted by professionals (if attempted at all). After all the stuff I had done so far, I wasn’t going to lose my nerve because I was being plunged into class 4 rapids (when I had only been rafting for probably 5 minutes). We were tossed, turned, continually splashed with water, and scraped over rocks. The water soon chilled us to the bone, but we stayed resilient in our paddling. The rapids were 3 minutes long, and it was the longest and craziest 3 minutes of my life. I was soon crying with laughter and everyone was screaming and yelling with excitement.
After 30 minutes of on and off rapids, we came to a lull in the current. We jumped off the raft and swam through another lazy river, but we were back in the raft after 10 minutes. We then came to another class 4 rapid, but I had a slightly arrogant confidence in me. “This was easy.” I thought to myself. As we came to a depression in the water, the bow of the boat dipped and the stern whipped up in response, where I happened to be sitting. I was launched at least 5 feet in the air, and splashed into the rapids. I panicked slightly as I came up for air and let go of my paddle in my frenzy to reach the raft. I made to wade on my back for the remainder of the rapids, but no sooner had I tried when a hand grasped my life jacket and swung me into the raft. “Alright mate?” asked Ben. I coughed up water, but I had a stupid grin on my face as I stammered my thanks. He waved away my gratitude saying “I haven’t lost a person yet, and I’ll be damned if it happens today.”
We only had 5 minutes left in the trip, but without a paddle I was left to brew on how overconfident I had been. I was that person that everyone talks about who had been thrown off the raft. We came to shore and docked the boat. Everyone was howling with laughter at how I had fell off, which surprisingly made me feel better about the situation. I laughed along and told my story of the experience. We later all agreed that was the best part of today’s adventure.
We drove another 4 hours to a hostel near Lake Taupo. Everybody was ready for a drink and some dinner after that experience, but after dinner I went back to jot down my crazy day. I’m going to head out and watch the super bowl with everybody now. All the pubs are replaying it at 10:30pm. I’ll post this when I get the chance. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!