Today we are tackling what is probably the most famous grade 3 white water rafting in the whole of New Zealand. The Tongariro River.
This morning we are joining the team from Rafting New Zealand for one of their best white water rafting in New Zealand, it’s the Tongariro River.
After taking their shuttle from Taupo to Turangi we arrive at the Turangi Adventure Centre where we’re meeting our guides and getting our gear ready to hit the water.
First up we need to change ourselves into some professional white water rafters so we are getting wet suits, fleeces, life jackets, splash jackets, helmets, paddles and then we’re hopping on the shuttle to the departure point of our trip.
There we’re gonna get a quick safety briefing and the team is going to check every single life jacket of the trip just to make sure that we’re safely strapped and we’re not going to be drowning in the tour.
After that we are carrying our raft to the bottom of the creek where we are actually going to be hopping into the river.
White water rafting is all about team work and team bonding so our team today is Robin and Laura, yours truly on the front seat, then behind us we have Leo and Ally which is a couple from Taupo and some good friends of ours, and behind them is a bunch of students from the US. It looks like we’re all in for an awesome time.
Most importantly at the back of the raft we have our guide and captain for today which is Jesse and he’s the one making sure we stay in the raft.
At the beginning of the trip there is a few small rapids for us to tackle but this is the perfect opportunity for us to learn some paddle commands. Jesse’s at the back of the raft and he’s shouting all the commands that we need to do throughout the trip and you need to be super proactive when you’re white water rafting. it’s definitely a team sport and not something you just lazy around but that’s all part of the fun.
However, it doesn’t take us long to get into the thick of the rapids most of the rapids are grade 3 and there’s over 50 rapids throughout this whole trip and really not that much time to relax it’s pretty full on and you definitely don’t feel short changed after this trip.
There is heaps of rapids on the Tongariro River and one of the great things about white water rafting with a guide is that they keep you prepared for every single one of them. Jesse tells us how we’re going to approach them and telling us a little bit about each rapid they all have a different name and they are all very colourful names like the cheesegrater, Air New Zealand, Pinball and many more.
And this is why I like white water rafting so much it is so much fun and it’s a great way to get up-close and intimate with New Zealand wildlife all those rivers and usually undiscovered if you were not white water rafting on them. You really have to take one of the tracks which is only known by the locals when they go trout fishing for instance and there you are only going to see one small spot of the river but when doing white water rafting on such a famous river as the Tongariro River, basically we get to see most of the river really up close it’s so cool.
Plus, white water rafting is a great way to keep cool in summer.
This section of the Tongariro River is the grade 3 section meaning that the rapids are at an intermediate level they’re not too gnarly they’re not too easy, they’re you know just right.
Commercial rafting in New Zealand goes from grade 1 being the easiest to grade 5 being the hardest so on the Tongariro River this is really good option if you are new to rafting or you just don’t want to hit those absolutely crazy rapids but still have a lot of that fun factor.
On top of all that, it makes this white water rafting trip a lot more accessible you can even take kids on this rafting trip.
Further down the river we go Jesse is introducing some more paddle commands one notably being “Get Down” and when he says this you know something gnarly is about to happen. You basically need to hold onto your paddles get right into the bottom of the boat and hold on.
Because the water level of the Tongariro River is controlled by a dam you will find that from time to time you may get a very different experience for example we are white water rafting on a really high flow day today it actually has 30 more cubic metres of water today just because the dam has been released not so long ago.
So as I mentioned previously, it’s a pretty full on trip right here we don’t’ have much time to stop and catch our breath but Jesse makes sure we have some time to rest a little bit and we stop in a eddy which is a part of the river where the water is kind of stand still and not pushing us back down the river. Once we stop there, we actually grab a hot drink and even some snacks, there is always some chocolate on white water rafting trips, plus Jesse also takes the time to tell us a little more about the local Maori legends.
But back to the action, the Tongariro River is really restless there is one rapid after the other it’s quite rare that we have a little bit of calm and it’s really cool and that’s really the kind of trip that I do like when it’s full action-packed and at the end of the trip I just feel exhausted. I want to paddle all the way down this river.
This part of the Tongariro River has a real mix of awesome landscapes and my favourite being when we get really deep inside this gorge which is covered with moss all over the gorge walls and topped with so many trees it feels like the true wilderness.
And speaking of wilderness, we actually see some pretty rare sights on this trip but we didn’t get to film it cos it’s pretty hard to film wildlife while you’re rafting, we actually see some blue ducks super up close. And blue ducks are really rare in New Zealand they’re rarer than kiwi birds, and they’re pretty fun to look at they are literally blue ducks and they even have little lips at the end of their beaks if you ever get a chance to see one it’s pretty amazing.
But blue duck spotting and white water rafting is not the only thing that the tongariro River is famous for, if you’re ever going into Turangi you’ll see a huge sign saying it’s the Trout Fishing Capital of New Zealand and this is exactly what this river is famous for, it is a fantastic place to go trout fishing so if you’re into that, that’s what you can do.
As we are coming close to the end of our trip, we reflect on how amazing it was and I take the time to jump in the water because you know that I love that.
By the way the water was about 8 degrees today but the equipment that we were provided with was so good I didn’t feel the cold at all.
So we all gather together around the raft at the end of the trip and help Jesse carry the raft back toward the van. It’s a good team work because honestly that raft was not light.
How do you feel? How do you feel?
That was so awesome man.
The drive back toward the Turangi base of Rafting New Zealand is only about 10 minutes and as we arrive we’re into beer, hot dogs and some awesome pictures of our trip. Our entire team o on the couch to watch our crazy faces.
Today we are hitting one of the most exciting grade free… Free? God, that was awful pronunciation.