19th September 2012
Up at the crack of dawn, there was a moment when I figured it might be worth sleeping in after a full day’s walking yesterday rather than going on this activity I booked myself for this morning. It’s too early man!
A quickie breakfast, I budged myself into a wetsuit, complete with thermals, slipped on some wet footwear, and donned my helmet. Or and I got given an oar. Not to kill people with but you may have guessed it….I’m going whitewater rafting guys!
It’s quite apt, seeing as I’m staying in River Valley so the best thing to do is white water raft it down!
Taken 40 minutes away with the resident jack russell dog yapping away from my lap, we climbed out and stared at the raft prepared for us that was to be our transportation. A quick health and safety briefing, I popped out my hearing aids and I was truly deaf to the river and the world. White Water Rafting in silence. It’s pretty cool.
Roaring down from the road to the river in our raft pushed by the instructors, we landed in the water with a splash and off we went.
Now I have to say that the valley was absolutely stunning. The early morning dew and sunshine truly gave the place an otherwise unearthly experience and I truly believed that I entered Lord of the Rings territory. I hoped Gandalf wouldn’t pop up and say that ‘you shall not pass!‘ otherwise I would have gone all Balrog on him. (if you don’t understand the lord of the rings references, go read)
We met a few rapids with such furious power and we paddled and cowered in our raft waiting to be flipped over. Actually I wanted to be flipped over, it makes it thrilling. The nostrum tour eying us wanting to get into the water told us when we reached a calm point in the river to jump in. We did. And he laughed evilly. The water was so bloody cold that I’m sure my ‘crown jewels‘ decided to jump back into their ‘safe‘. All of us, flustered, shakily climbed back into the boat as quick as we eagerly jumped in. Lesson learnt.
The rapids became stronger and stronger. At one point, we had to abandon a stretch because if we continued, we would have been smashed against the rocks and sucked int the deep pools below and drowned. Quite a sobering thought. But we were rewarded with some canyoning. That means we climb up a very large cliff and jump off into the river. It’s pretty cool. I did it again and again … And again. Love it.
Before we knew it, the morning disappeared after more rafting and Lo and behold, we arrived back into the River Valley Lodge Grounds in which we got off and took a very nice looooooooong hot shower. I couldn’t feel my third toe on my left foot for ages afterwards, it was that numb!
I’m still awaiting pictures from the photographer so I’ll let you know when I get them.
But time waits for no bus driver, so we quickly had to jump back on to head towards our next final destination. Wellington!
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and probably the most dangerous capital in the world. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be clubbed by some Wellington boots but in fact, this capital city is located directly on a major earthquake fault line. The biggest earthquake was recorded in 1855 measuring 8 on the Richter Scale so you wouldn’t be surprised when you visit, that you feel some seismic activity under your feet.
So after a few cheeky toilet stops along the way, we finally arrived in mid afternoon at the hostel and I promptly scarfed down some dinner seeing as I didn’t have any lunch.
That evening, I went with one of the people that I met on this bus to possibly the best museum I’ve ever visited. Te Papa Museum.
An abundance of Maori and New Zealand History is stored here and with over 6 floors to explore, I was in there for quite some time. Very note rested in Maori culture and history, particularly about how much of an impact Europeans made on the Maori’s on their arrival. Also incredibly interesting is New Zealand’s Geological and Environmental History.
I was pretty intrigued about New Zealand’s stance on Anti Nuclear Proliferation and particularly the time when France blew up a Greenpeace boat in the harbours of New Zealand. Those Pesky frogs! But that’s another story to be told later on.
After a couple of hours, we walked along the wharf. It’s pretty magical with the lights all twinkling in the dark. Photo time!
Getting back to the hostel, we were exhausted! And I just wanted to get some decent sleep seeing as we had to catch the ferry through the Cook Strait to get to the South Island at 7.15am! So early to bed it means. Well, I wish I could say I did that, but I got dragged out by the other people on the bus on the promise of ‘just one drink‘ to check out the nightlife of Wellington.
Needless to say, it wasn’t ‘just one drink‘ as we partied into the night until 4am. Setting my alarm on for 6.15am, I was sure to get up then. Well, the alarm did work but I carried on sleeping. Will I wake up in time for the ferry?!