Day 254 on the Road
Epic White Water Rafting on the North Island!
Today we are joining River Valley for their awesome grade 4-5 white water rafting trip in the North Island! If you like this video and want more NZ bucket list inspiration, then check out our 365 Days: 365 Activities over on YouTube.
Finally we are here in River Valley, one of my favourite spots on the North Island and today we’re gonna do their main star activity white water rafting.
It’s our first day here at River Valley Lodge and we’re jumping straight onto their famous white water rafting trip so after a quick briefing from the guides we are getting geared up with all the equipment we need to keep us warm.
Laura is about to leap onto the bus. I don’t know this person. I don’t know who she is.
Now that we’re all in the bus we are making our way to our launch point on the river because the end point of our trip is literally gonna be the lodge.
The guides start unloading stacks and stacks of rafts for about 20 rafters that are gonna be hitting the river this morning. We are given a safety briefing before making the most fun way down to the river which is sliding down the river banks.
From the get go it’s pretty obvious that our guides are super quirky and super banterful and they are getting us to do lots of nonsensical things from the start like crashing into walls and even flipping our rafts over for apparently no reason.
Actually there is a reason we are flipping so early in the trip. it’s to practice because flipping happens really often when white water rafting and we need to be able to know the procedure to get everybody back on board safely and keep on going with our trip along the river.
The Rangitikei River is actually one of New Zealand’s longest rivers at 185km. We’re obviously are not going to be rafting all the way but we’re gonna have a lot of fun in this really rapid filled section.
Because the rapids are not too huge it gives us plenty of opportunity to have a lot of fun on the river and that’s really what the theme of this tour is. It’s all about having a blast while white water rafting there is no epic drops or anything like that it’s just all about good old fun.
And you guys know by now that white water rafting is all about team work and pulling crazy faces like Laura does. So it’s time for me to introduce our team. Our captain is Kirk, he’s gonna be our raft guide today he’s from the US and has experience white water rafting in so many different rivers. We feel in definitely safe hands with him. We also have CJ, Lisa and Craig which are gonna be joining us for this trip they are all tourists like we are and are in for an awesome time.
The section of the Rangitikei River that we’re doing today is about 12km long and it’s like being designed for white water rafting for the very first time. It starts off with grade 2 to 3 rapids which are pretty cruisy but they still have the adrenaline factor which gets your heart pumping and then it moves onto the grade 4s and grade 5s which are the big epic rapids with lots of technical maneuvers.
What’s really cool about the rapids of this river as well is just how various they are some of them are super short sharp shoots which only last a couple of moments while other rapids go on for ages lasting hundreds of metres.
Once we get down a section of major rapids and our hearts can start beating normally again, we reach sections of the river which are super calm and we can start embracing the views and kirk is giving us the permission to jump out and go rafting on our bodies.
Jumping off the raft is a lot of fun but the next rapid is just around the corner so we get back into the action.
On top of the awesome rapids the scenery surrounding us are absolutely astonishing and this is because we are on the edge of the Ruahine Forest Park which is one of the protected areas of the North Island harbouring a lot of native plants and native wildlife and Kirk takes the time to tell us a lot about that at every single opportunity he has during the slow sections of the rapids.
But on the things that I like the most about white water rafting is the action and honestly the river valley white water rafting is seriously action-packed. there is almost no time where we have more than 10 minutes without massive rapids to tackle. It’s a lot of fun and the tour is not short either. it takes us 2-3 hours to make it all the way down back to the river valley lodge.
But we’re really lucky, our team is actually awesome and we actually have five customers and one guide in the raft giving us the perfect opportunity to work as a team. It’s not many people and it’s not too little either. It’s just the perfect number.
Towards the end of our trip and when we’ve made it down the last few rapids we get the time to actually just play with the river and start surfing the rapids we just rafted down.
We also get the time to soak in the amazing scenery of the Rangitikei River which actually part of this river was used during the filming of The Lord of the Rings as the Anduin River and you can really tell that this picturesque place is a perfect movie filming location.
Before each rapid our guide tells us how we’re gonna approach that rapid and what maneuvers we’re gonna have to do and he also tells us the crazy names for each of the rapids. For instance, we go through a section called The Narrows and then it’s onto the Long Drop, The Slip, Max’s Drop and our favourite, Pinball Canyon.
As the name suggests and as you can see from my face Pinball Canyon is pretty crazy as we are bouncing off the gorge walls from one side to the other being thrown left and right on our rafts. it’s totally insane.
For you guys planning a trip in the Manawatu region or on the way up or down of Wellington you can definitely stop at River Valley any time of the year. It’s one of the rare whitewater rafting trips which is actually available all year round which is really cool.
The Rangitikei River is world famous for trout fishing as well as white water rafting there is heaps of tours to go fishing alongside the river banks and catch a fresh fish for dinner but white water rafting is really the most popular activity here with over 4000 people tackling the river every year.
And we can definitely see why cos this trip is a lot of fun there is heaps of rapids makes you pull the craziest faces but it’s definitely accessible for even the beginners because the river doesn’t get too crazy at any point of the year.
Plus, it’s really safe trip as well after all we’ve got heaps of equipment to keep us afloat we’ve got wetsuits, we’ve got helmets, we’ve got life jackets, we’ve got booties, we’ve got fleece tops, we’ve got paddle jackets and we even get the wooden paddle which are floating too.
As our trip is coming to an end and we haven’t flipped at all despite practicing before, kirk is making sure that we actually do flip and is running us through the wall. Oh my God, this flip was epic!
After 254 days we’ve finally lost our rafting flipping virginity. noo it’s finally happened. But that marks the end of our trip where we are coming back to the River Valley Lodge and helping unload the rafts back into their places. That was an awesome day here in River Valley.
Oh don’t jump there. That face was awesome.