Monday, 19 December 2011

New Zealand Tour. October 5th/6th & 7th 2011. Rotorua and Kaitiaki Adventures, Whitewater Rafting and Sledging The Kaituna River.

I did not know that The Kiwi Fruit grew on vines, I do now! Driving from Papamoa Beach to Rotorua on the SH 2 through the town of Te Puke, and passing the large Kiwifruit Country theme park with a giant Kiwi fruit at its entrance, I have not doubts about how the fruit are grown; I just had not expected so many acres of them. It was a fast journey to Rotorua so we went on up to the Waiotapu Thermal Area, and arrived in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser be set off at 10:15. Yes I did say the geyser is started, this is done with a bar of soap and after that the geyser performs for a good 45 minutes. Next to the geysers is a hot waterfall and a secret hot pool to sit in if you want to, its good fun. I loved the Champagne Pools with their fantastic colours the best, but the whole place was fascinating. Next we drove to the Mud Pools to watch mud boil, and on to Kerosene Creek, a hot river with hot pools to wallow in.
Following all this thermal activity we went in to Rotorua itself, the town had an air of Las Vegas about it, I think it’s the straight roads with Motels lining them. So many Motels it’s hard to choose, but we chose the Best Western Capri Court, and it was a good choice. The accommodation was very clean and spacious. It had a sitting room that could sleep two, a kitchen area, bathroom, a double bedroom with a king-size bed and a back yard with its own thermal spa pool. The accommodation was very quiet and the owners very helpful and friendly. It was a great choice and I would recommend this Motel.  

The next day we had booked to go white-water rafting on the KaiTuna River. I am not really an adventure but do like to try out new activities. We were picked up by Jezza (Jeremy), one of the guides, he said ‘Hi’ then commented on my age and size, I am over 50 and a UK size 10. He asked if I really wanted to go rafting? As we drove to the river he informed us of how dangerous this river was, not to keep any jewellery and that this was not an activity to be taken lightly. I was having misgivings and thought about changing my mind, but this bloke was a bully, he said any pussies could pull out as could the chickens, wimps and old has-beens, well! I have never given in to a bully in my life and was not about to do so today. At the base we were met by a very professional team led by Rana. Rana safety talk was very good; he told us what to do if we ended up in the water. We then changed in to wet suites with fleeces underneath. A well fitted life jacket and a hard hat. You had to leave valuables at the hut in an open bench, I would have preferred lockers. Jezza sorted out who was to sit where in the raft and off we went, I did not like the first waterfall and got a full whiplash as we went over it. Again we pulled up at the bank so that ‘any chickens could do the walk of shame’. I stayed on, a big mistake; all I remember is crouching in the back as we went over the 7 Meter Waterfall, gripping very hard with my legs and holding on to the handles very tight. Then I was at the bottom of the waterfall, underwater being bounced about, something hit my head very hard, it was a rock or the end of one of the paddles you were given to row with. I surfaced took a breath, then was plunged to the bottom again. When I came up for the last time the rescue squad was there with a canoe for me. Lovely boy! He told me my face was bleeding, but I was not bothered, it was my hand that was the problem it was twice its normal size and hanging limp by my side! Now I was not bothered by any of this, if you do these things then you may have an accident, it goes with the fun. It was the next bit that I have issue with. As we got to the end of the course, Jezza told me to sit at the very front of the boat, and proceeded to dunk me under the water at least 5 times, if he thought he would beat me he was mistaken, I may have been ½ drown but I did not flinch. I think the others on the raft were more traumatised that me. Back at the hut Jezza did patch my face up with steri strips and give me an ice pack for my hand. So impressions, I think that this river really is dangerous, I have found out that people have been killed on it. This is a difficult concept for Europeans to grasp, as we live in countries obsessed with Health & Safety, we end up not really believing that you will be allowed to participate in really dangerous activities and this gives us a false sense of security. It is a dangerous activity and I did get hurt doing it, unfortunately because of my job I deal in masses of adrenalin each day, It is getting harder and harder for me to have adrenalin rushes! And even though I was in the river I had no Adrenalin...strange but true.  There have been very few occasions in my life where I have wished that I had not done something and this is one thing I wish I had never done.

The next day I was really sore and very stiff, but we had a chill out day walking round the lake, having fun on the luge, and visiting the excellent Rotorua Museum. The Hot Pools of the Polynesian Spa in the evening were very welcome on my sore bones.