|The Kiwi bus left early from Queenstown on the 3rd and headed towards Christchurch, over 500km away! On route we stopped at Lake Pukaki for views of the lake and also Mount Cook in the distance, the highest mountain in New Zealand. At lunch we stopped at Lake Tekapu, where there were amazing views as well as a tiny church, yet it's the most visited church in New Zealand!! There is no stained glass window in it as it was decided that nothing could be as beautiful as the views of the mountains and the lake. There is also a statue of a sheep dog there to 'appreciate the value of the collie dog, whithout the help of which the grazing of the mountain country would be impossible'.
I didn't go all the way to Christchurch as I had signed up to do White Water Rafting at Rangitata Gorge near Geraldine.
I got dropped off with 2 others in Geraldine and picked up by the Rangitata Rafts people along with several people from the Stray bus (another NZ bus transport network). We all stayed the night in the lodge, with an amazing wood fire and games such as jenga to keep us occupied. The actual dorm rooms were freezing, but morning came pretty quickly.
Morning meant breakfast(all meals were included in the price of rafting, as was the accommodation), going through all the safety we needed to know and getting our gear and packing our backpacks as we were being taken to Christchurch in the evening after rafting. Before we headed out, we had lunch then got changed into our wetsuits etc.
We had a 20 minute drive down to Rangitata Gorge and then were split into groups. Overall there were 4 groups of 5 or 6 people. Our guide was Raono, and before we hit the rapids we were taught all the commands that he could possibly shout at us over the next hour or so. So, armed with our paddles and new rafting knowledge we tackled the rapids, thankfully they started with 'easy' Grade 2 rapids like Glacier, then came the Grade 3 Pencil Sharpner and Tsunami. Before our first Grade 5 rapid, Rooster's Tail/Pig's Trough we all got out of our rafts and were instructed as to how we were going to tackle the rapid. It was excellent fun, although a bit scary when one guy out of one of the other rafts fell in and got sucked under for a little bit. However, luckily everything was fine and he was soon laughing about it. Next came the second, and last Grade 5 rapid which is about 400m long and named The Pinch. It wasn't as scary as RT/PT and I found it more fun as we actually had do more rafting than we had done previously. No one fell out and then we just gently rafted downstream towards Jump Rock where some people jumped off a 10m high rock at the edge of the gorge whilst the rest of us sat by and cheered them on for being brave enough to jump into the freezing cold water!
After a very tiring 4 hours out at the Gorge we were all very happy to get back to the lodge, have hot showers and change before having a barbeque and looking at the photos that had been taken whilst we were out. At 5pm we were loaded into the buses and taken to Christchurch.
A very exhausting day, but I am so glad I did it as I'd been wanting to do White Water Rafting for weeks!