As if jumping out of a plane wasn’t enough, we also decided to do some white water rafting in Queenstown with Queenstown Rafting.
This was something of a last minute decision – we booked at about 11am and were winding our way along Skippers Canyon just after 1pm. Skippers Canyon – for stats fans – is the worlds 13th most dangerous road. Originally a track used by miners, who had to use donkeys because the sheer drops made horses too nervous, today it forms something of a tourist attraction as it winds around the hills with sheer drops sometimes just an inch or two away from the bus. Incidentally, it is one of a few roads in New Zealand where your car rental agreement (and insurance) is very likely to be voided if you attempt to drive it.
After a rather twitchy half hour drive, we arrived at Shotover River – the boarding point for our rafts. We had a short safety briefing which emphasised we should try to avoid knocking each others teeth out with our paddles and definitely avoid falling out down a churning rapid if at all possible.
Craig and I were chosen to sit at the front of our raft, accompanied by Pat and a sweet couple from Singapore. Supervising us was our guide Scott and a rather enigmatic guide known only as “Chief”.
The introduction to the rapids was a series of four Grade 3 rapids, followed by the Grade 4 “mother rapids”, which had reassuring names such as “Pinball” and “Oh Sh*t”, and flung us around accordingly. Thankfully we survived them with our crew (and teeth) intact.
The scenery in between rapids was breath taking. We cruised down the canyon feeling like we were in Lord of the Rings (if they had worn wetsuits) and looking at the cute little mountain goats dotted around the grassy slopes.
After an hour and a half (which went by so quickly!) on the water, we came to the final challenge – a tunnel 170m or so long followed by a big drop into the landing zone for the rafts. Once we’d angled the raft to the falls, we had one task left – hang on for dear life!
If you want to see a short video of us getting thrown about in some grade 5 rapids, Craig thoughtfully attached a camera to his head for the duration…
About our trip
We rafted with Queenstown Rafting which costs $209 per person for a four hour trip. We had a great time with them – they are a professional but fun bunch and will (probably) deliver you back safely – if not dry!
It might be worth checking your travel insurance ahead as some restrict the grade of rapid you can go on – we checked ours afterwards and hadn’t been covered for all of the trip. Oops.