White­wa­ter Raft­ing

story By Ian Traf­ford im­ages Cour­tesy of raftabout

Adventure - - Front Page -

My full im­mer­sion white­wa­ter raft­ing bap­tism came at aged eigh­teen in the 1970’s. Com­pli­ments of the mighty Motu River in the east­ern Bay of Plenty I saw God and the white light on a four-day pri­vate white­wa­ter raft­ing trip thrown to­gether by a team of en­thu­si­as­tic farm­ers with ac­cess to yacht tenders and rub­ber boats bet­ter suited to be­ing bath toys. A mer­ci­less mis­tress, that river had us bruised, bat­tered and gasp­ing while we learnt the whole river al­pha­bet of dis­as­ters - flips, wraps, pins, swim­mers and down­time were our daily lessons. We were spanked and we hurt, but in some funny old way we hurt good.

A raft­ing bap­tism should be much eas­ier. The rapids and gorges of the Motu River in­jected in me its own opi­ate-like endorphin, block­ing the pain and ini­ti­at­ing a long ad­dic­tion to run­ning rivers over the years, both com­mer­cially and pri­vately. For most peo­ple a per­ceived near-drown­ing ex­pe­ri­ence can put you off rivers for ever and a day but in New Zealand raft­ing need not be any­thing like this. Leave the rot­ting yacht ten­der and tyre­tube raft in the shed and jump on a com­mer­cial white­wa­ter raft­ing trip with a pro­fes­sional guide. If you choose to run the big rivers you are still go­ing to crap your daks as you drop over a foam­ing lip and punch the air when you sur­vive the falls, but your risks are man­aged by the pros so you are many thou­sands of times more likely to be go­ing

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