© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Geothermal Adventures Down “The Squeeze” with New Zealand Riverjet

© NZPocketGuide.com

296 Days on the Road

After 10 days of mountain bike festivals, giant swings, Shweebs, jetboats, freefalling, zombie killing, geothermal parks under the rain, Zorbing, bathing in thermal pools, encountering endangered birds of prey, running down the crater of a volcano, staying overnight in a Maori village, Luging, ziplining, seeing kiwi chicks, marvelling at the Southern Hemisphere’s largest active geyser, and watching Maori cultural shows, our time in Rotorua has come to an end. What’s more, it only feels like we scratched the surface of what this action-packed city has to offer! That’s why even leaving the city for Taupo will be an adventure in itself today, as we join the crew at New Zealand Riverjet where riding in a jetboat is only half of the adventure…

The Squeeze or Orakei Korako?

We take the Thermal Explorer Highway between Rotorua and Taupo where the Riverjet base is situated almost right in the middle. When we arrive, we opt for a ride called The Squeeze, where we will be swimming down down a geothermal-heated stream! The other option for those who don’t want to get wet is to hop off the jetboat at the geothermal park of Orakei Korako – been there, done that, and because we went there under the rain, we DID get soaked. Good times!

Historically, as in a couple of weeks ago before we had heaps of rain, customers doing The Squeeze could walk through the canyon in ankle-deep water of around 32 degrees Celsius. However, we are warned at the Riverjet desk that the rain has washed the bottom of the canyon out meaning that there may be a little bit of swimming involved… and, oh yeah, there is so much fresh water that the stream is no long 32-degrees… Gulp! Well, we and a handful of brave others are getting into the thick wetsuits provided and are still keen to check out the famous “Squeeze” anyway!

Cruising down the Mighty Waikato River

Suited up with life-jackets, a pair of sexy Crocs, and a long splash coat to wear on the way back, we meet our driver, Pete, and hop into a huge jet boat called The Boss. This bad boy fits 22 passengers, plus the driver, and we have a full boat today!

Pete explains that the ride down the Waikato River to our geothermal activities will be a cruisy one – a good time to get your photos without too much splashing. The way back, however, will be an adventure ride! With that, we get some “before” photos taken in the boat for photo packs to purchase later on, and we’re off down the mighty Waikato River!

The Waikato River definitely earns the title of being “mighty” with its high volume and width. The river has so much water that it actually appears still on the surface, creating all these reflections of the scenery we are travelling through. At first, we go through rolling green hills of farmland, then to pine forest, where Pete stops the boat to explain more about the industries in the region. From here, we delve into the more scenic stuff: deep river gorges with vertical cliffs covered in native forest. When Pete stops the boat again to look for trout that can usually be seen, all we can hear is the deep purr of the jet boat and echoing calls of native birds.

Welcome to a geothermal wonderland

It becomes obvious when we hit the geothermal zones when we see steam rising from patches in the forest. Soon enough we reach Orakei Korako, easily seen by its huge silica terraces dividing the forest. Even if we don’t go for a walk around the geothermal park today, just seeing the size of the geothermal activity from the Waikato River is an amazing sight in itself.

Making our way into geothermal country in style

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Onto “The Squeeze”!

With only six of us, plus Pete, left in the boat, we take the short remainder of the ride to the start of our walk into The Squeeze. Pete ties up the jetboat, and gets a ladder for us to lower ourselves into stomach-deep water where we can feel the muddy bottom squishing between our toes. We love it! Already, we feel like we’re about to go on an adventure.

The group follows Pete to a shallow stream taking us into the forest. Suddenly, the stream gets a lot narrower, just enough to go through single-file, and the stream gets a whole lot deeper…

Swimming through the canyon

We can just about touch the bottom, but there are plenty of footholds to stand on to make our way through the canyon, with the stream flowing against us, a lot easier. Wave-shaped rocks tower above us with tiny cold streams trickling from the canyon walls. These cold streams help us realise just how warm the water in the canyon is! It might not be 32-degrees as usual, but it’s certainly a comfortable temperature, especially teamed up with our wetsuits.

A waterfall massage

Eventually, we make it out of the other side of the canyon, walking through a shallow stream once again until we start hearing a thundering sound. We approach an awesome little canyon with a ferocious waterfall tumbling into the middle. Let’s get in there! Pete takes us two at a time into the falls to take photos with the waterproof camera, as he has been capturing the whole Squeeze experience the entire time.

We feel the powerful waterfall crashing onto our heads for some not-so-flattering photos but at least it feels pretty epic! Once we have had our deep massage, we head on up a track leading us to a shallow hot pool and the top of the waterfall.

Hot pool in the wilderness

Soon enough, the rest of the group join us in what feels like a little secret spot. We all bathe in the comfortably warm water amongst the native forest and in the midst of fantails fluttering, talking about politics. Why not? We get a good amount of time here before we need to make the exciting journey all the way back down The Squeeze! This time, it’s a whole lot easier going downstream!

Back at the jetboat, we are putting our windproof and splashproof jackets on so the “adventure ride” is not too chilly on the way back. We pick up the Orakei Korako crew, and get with seeing what these jetboats can do!

A ride of 360-spins and near-misses!

Pete gives the universal signal for “360 spin”, indicating that we need to hold on! Then the jetboat takes a sudden turn on the spot, spinning us right around and giving us a refreshing spray on the face! After God knows how many jetboat trips we have done on this 365 Days: 365 Activities, this trick never gets old!

We lose count of how many times we get to experience the 360 spin, whether it is after squeezing the boat between two trees or just after a near-miss with a gorge wall. The jetboat is super agile on the water, meaning that just when it looks like we are about to hit a tree or fly up the river bank, we avoid it right at the last second.

Back at the Riverjet base, Pete does a couple more 360-spins for the camera, and our adventure comes to an end. Now we need to peel out of our wetsuits, get changed, and look through the photos of our crazy ride and journey down The Squeeze! Awesome!

Next stop, Taupo!

After a quick sandwich, it’s time to head to our final destination of Taupo situated on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake – so large, in fact, that they say the whole of Singapore could fit in it! We check into Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Resort and instantly spy the huge heated pool with a pool bar, cave and mini waterfalls. We are staying here two nights, so we will definitely by making the most of that pool! In fact, we might be staying in that pool longer than planned, as a huge storm is coming and we have quite a few weather-dependent activities planned. We’d love to say what we are doing tomorrow, but honestly, we have no idea. Nevertheless, join us tomorrow to see what we get up to!

Such an awesome little spot!

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