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A Rafting worth waiting for!!!!

New Zealand (Wanaka) 2006-01-17

South from Christchurch on "Banks Peninsula" we found a beautiful "French" town by the sea, Akaroa, we went there after a couple of days in Christchurch. Stayed at Dolphin Backpackers in one (out of two) double rooms in a house owned by two very nice girls. Recommendable!!! Strolling around in the very charming and "Frenchy" coast town (that is as much exercise as we can do, due to our painful body’s after the very HEAVY Body pump....) All the streets got French names, the French flag is everywhere and the food, the also very French like. Yummie!!

We stayed only one night and went on into the country towards Rangitata River and hopefully a "white water Rafting" tomorrow. We have been told that this Rafting is probably the most exciting in NZ! With a grade of 5, on a scale between 1 and 6 where 6 is unraftable, it might be a bit "heavy" for two beginners, but what the heck, You only live once!

We stay at Rangitata Rafting Lodge in a double room in the middle of nowhere, lovely and calm. Anders is making a lamb BBQ and we had a delicious dinner!

We used their kitchen, very well equipped and they had a lot of DVD movies (with surround sound) so we know how to spend our evenings... And yes there is going to be more than one evening........ on the 12:th of January it is raining "cats and dogs = 158 mm" and it has been raining on the west coast very hard, which means that the River is very, very high, to high for a safe rafting. If it normally moves about 150 cubic meter/second, and 200 is the highest to go rafting, is it right now about 500!

Very wet in this Grade V. Eva is in the green helmet to the left and Anders is absorbed by the water. The adrenalin is pumping. Click to enlarge.We drove one hour to Timaru, an east coast city and checked our mail and loaded some photos into our website, MinTur. Back at the lodge Anders made us a lovely dinner (Wow, two days in a row!) and we are very excited, how will it be tomorrow, is the river to high?? Well, it is slowly moving down but's only down at .....320. Had an early breakfast and wondered: How high is the river? Low enough? No - no, not yet, it's too high and we will not be able to go rafting today either.........

We won’t give up!!! Decided to give the River another chance we went out hiking in Peel Forest!! A hard tough hiking for about 5 hours just close to the lodge. A shower and than it's time for another good dinner, Pasta this evening and Ooops, we managed to flip our table (while looking at a big Falcon) and Eva got a lot of red wine on her clothes! No big deal, we borrowed the machine washer and we took the chance to do ALL our laundry, Yippi!! Smart guys!! Well, we are professional travelers, You know!

It has arrived more overexcited guests to the lodge and they are expecting a bus from Christchurch tomorrow at 11am. Maybe then.......but it doesn't look good..... Woke up early on the 14:th...How does it look???? Well, it is going down, right now it is just over 200.....Let's wait and see!!

We had lunch together with the 30 people from the bus and everyone is tense...YES!! It will be very adventurous....... it is just over 190 and off we go!!!!!!!! My God - is this GREAT!!!!!

This is the highest River the Guides have had so far this season; it is tickling even through the briefing on the lodge.

With buses and 5 rubber boats we are going to a calm part of Rangitata River were we sat the boats to sea and made us up in groups of six and had a god review about safety and team working - during the first 20 minutes of the calm river part. The Rafting will start calmly with a "slow" part of grade 2 followed by a "Wild water rafting".

The whole Team must fight together to manage through the "Tsunami" (grade 4), and the two grade 5 parts without flipping around......We became a real "rescue team" during the first grade 5 part, as the boat right behind us flipped and no one managed to hold on to their boat....we rescued four scared people into our boat and we managed to go to calmer water without flipping.

We jumped out of the boats and walked to have a look of the last very looong grade 5 parts. Checking both if it is raftable and if we WANT to do it! You can walk around it...... But all our team wants to give it a try!!!

Steve, our guide, explain to us that this last adventures part is like all the others but at the same time...."WOW!!!!!!! We are extremely focused and obey Steve’s orders, the adrenalin pumping hard, we are fighting and became bloody wet (see pictures and associated text) our hearts are pumping like hell but.........We did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And as "cream of the mashed potato" (how do You say that in English?) we get the opportunity to jump into the rowdy river from a cliff 10 meter above us (it is HIGH!)!! Of course we did! It is fairly easy, at this moment, to let go and loose control..... Still wearing all the equipment (incl. helmets) EvAnders took a big step and jumped together!!!!!!(See pictures below) taking by our photographer, unfortunately his memory card was full when we jumped.

Do we need to say that the BBQ at the lodge, together with all the Teams, was great! It was an easy decision to stay another night at this great place!

The Next morning the lodge was crowded. They had one morning rafting bus and the ordinary one from Christchurch. It is nice to leave at this moment......

We are now driving to Lake Tekapo, watching some great views, did some shopping (only food), checking our mailbox and went further passing Lake Pukaki. The view over the lake against Mt Cook is great! Mt Cook is the highest peak in NZ, 3.574 meter! We stayed the night in Twizel - a small town close to Lake Pukaki - and have a really good Italian dinner at Poppies.

After a good night sleep we went to Mt Cook and did some hiking in Hooker Valley before we went on to Wanaka and Wanaka Lake. We had another really good BBQ, lamb of course, we are in NZ!! We have decided to stay another two or three nights, it's so many things You want to do.....what do decide??????? Maybe Eva will do her Skydive - if the weather allows, right now it is too windy? Over viewing mountains, glaciers and clear blue lakes!! We'll come back!!!!

Windy regards from EvAnders enjoying the South Island of New Zealand.