Day 203 on the Road
Grade 5 White Water Rafting in New Zealand
Today we’re tackling the mightiest white water rafting trip in New Zealand, the Rangitata River. If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities then head on over to our awesome YouTube Channel!
Today guys we’re gonna raft one of the mightiest rivers in New Zealand. We’re gonna be hitting the grade 5 rapids of the Rangitata River.
This morning we are heading to the base of Rangitata Rafts where as soon as we arrive we are being fed. This is how every single tour should start. After a good feast we are heading to the hangout where we’re gonna be learning about the equipment for our tour today.
Maddy our tour leader has a a really good technique to show us how to layer all the equipment for white water rafting then we collect everything we need and head toward the changing room. Then we finally look the part, they just quickly check that the life jackets are safe enough and then we’re off to the river.
In that bus their we have Maddy the trip leader. Ok she’s quite cool If you have any questions queries complaints, rashes you need looking at talk to her.
It’s a 20 minute to the Rangitata River but our guides keep it super entertaining the whole way and one we arrive at the river we get a quick briefing on land before getting into the very first section of the Rangitata River rafting.
Before we begin let me just tell you guys that this is not your average river. It’s the only year-round grade 5 white water rafting river in New Zealand and it’s full on all the way. But the challenge is worth it to see some of the most pristine scenery in the Canterbury region.
The first few rapids are small enough for us to learn some essential paddle commands that we’re really gonna need throughout this trip. Because this is a grade 5 river we are really gonna have to be on top of our game cos there is no room for error.
But we have a big ace on our hand right here. Gumby is our guide today he’s super experienced. Gumby is from the US and has white water rafting experience all over the world including guiding experience in the Colorado River which is one of the mightiest rivers in the US. That’s pretty cool.
On the next more mellow section he’s get us to practice how to get someone back onto the raft if they fall so I’m volunteering falling into the raft and I’m in complete despair please guys help me to get back on the boat.
I must have put on a lot of weight because it takes two of them to get me back onto the raft but it was well worth practicing cos I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need that skill later.
As we are going down the beautiful Rangitata River everything is changing. The beautiful scenery is getting even more beautiful as we are leaving the pastures of the local farm land and are heading toward the Rangitata Gorge which features rocky cliffs on both sides of the river.
We are also getting to see the Rangitata River getting mightier by the minute. Every single wave that we’re hitting is getting bigger and our raft feels really small among all those massive waves.
The small rapids that we are tackling right now are only grade 3 and they’re already really huge and much beyond anything else we’ve seen before so I can’t even wait to see what the grade 5 rapids look like.
Every single rafting guide has a different style to approach rapids and Gumby is from the US and he’s using the American way which is charging right in the middle of the rapid as fast as we can to basically ride the wave. Its not for a feint hearted.
And things are about to get even bigger. So we are taking the time to slow down after a couple of rapids and head toward the shore of the river where every single raft guide is going to confer they are chatting about the strategy to approach the next rapid. Apparently it’s a really big one and they all need to come up with a plan that’s gonna work for everybody.
Every guide also gives their raft the option to opt out this is now your time if you thought that this grade 3 rapid was too big for you to opt out of the grade 5 you can walk alongside the river with the photographer but obviously no one opts out in our raft and we are heading charging ahead of the rapids.
This is where things get serious we are getting absolutely hammered by the rapids there’s water splashing all over the place we can barely see all we can hear are Gumby’s paddle instructions which we can absolutely not fault at because if we do this raft is gonna flip.
After that epic adrenaline rush we just feel pure relief once we make it down that last rapid. That was a set of 50m of grade 5 rapids but what we’re about to tackle is 300m of grade 5 rapids.
So Gumby is pulling us aside he’s explaining what we’re gonna be tackling next and the tension is really building. This is serious now and we gonna head straight toward that next set of rapids.
As we approach the rapids the noise of the water is just echoing around the canyon making us feel like the waves are so much bigger. Gumby is shouting order non-stop we have no time to rest we have to do this right.
It feels like we are surfing on the milky blue waters of the glacial fed Rangitata River. The feeling of action packed tour is real right here and we are spending three hours on the river we are sure to get our exercise today.
It turns out that our team is pulling it together and we are maneuvering with skills and even with a little bit of flair amongst the massive rapids we are getting some really awesome pictures some awesome shots and we are making through even the biggest rapid of the day.
And that is not the case for everybody as our following raft is about to flip. It’s absolutely amazing to see that up close and not be the one in the water but there is no time to rest for us it is time to actually try to catch any stragglers people are scattered all over the river as two rafts flip on the same rapid so we are grabbing people trying to pull them on our raft they’re all safely floating down the river but it would be much easier for us to get everybody on the raft every single guide is jumping onto different rafts flipping them around collecting people. The organisation among this huge chaos is absolutely impressive.
Nobody goes missing despite that it looks like a very dangerous situation.
I am in awe of how in control our guides were during this absolutely amazing moment.
We thought that we literally lost people but every single guide knew where everybody was at all times. We collect everybody gather our thoughts take the time to catch a breath. Woo. We made it through the biggest rapid of the day.
After our guides make sure that everyone is safely back in their rafts we can all finally take a breather and just let the adrenaline calm down before making our way onto the rest of the river which is a lot more mellower and by this point we feel like we can tackle pretty much anything this river throws at us.
At this point we can take in the amazing scenery of the Rangitata Gorge which has really milky waters which is fed by glaciers in the Southern Alps and this makes a huge contrast to the grey rocky rugged river gorge walls.
As soon as you hear the word glacial water you know what Robin wants to do and yes, it is as cold as it sounds.
The rest of us follow Robin into the icy cold waters just enough time to realise that white water rafting isn’t quite as good without a raft so we’re hopping back into the boat to finish our trip.
However people don’t seem as enthusiastic to pull others back into their rafts is there’s no dangerous rapids around. This goes to show that white water rafting is a team sport and that’s one of the really cool things about rafting is that it’s a totally activity and just so much fun to do as a group.
Our final team effort is getting the raft out of the water and carrying it up to the bus. We end the tour feeling happily exhausted but now it’s for us to make our way back to the Rangitata Rafts base where a classic Kiwi barbecue is waiting for us. We have sausages we have salad we’re mingling with our new friends that we met in the rafts and also seeing the photos of the hilarious facial expressions that we were had while rapids were hitting us in the face.
So yeah, I do not look good while I’m white water rafting. I can see that now.