Rafting the Rangitata River

Sigh. I couldn’t believe it was already my last night as a Flying Kiwi. I’d had such an amazing journey with the group that I couldn’t even think about them all driving off in the bus and leaving me behind the next day after whitewater rafting.

We set up camp at the Rangitata Raft lodge tucked at the end of a long, sheepy road in a glaciated valley in the heart of the Southern Alps. And you’ll never guess what movie was shot in the nearby gorge? Lord of the Rings. Oh, ok, so you guessed.

It was quite cold that evening, so after setting up our tents outside in the grass between sheep paddocks, we bundled up in the main lodge to watch some random movie that was possibly shot all over New Zealand and had a huge effect on my trip. Can’t recall the name of it, but it was the perfect way to cap off one of the best trips of my life.

The next morning, those of us who chose to go rafting were up at the crack of dawn, donning the always sexy wetsuit/helmet combo and packing up our tents. We had sunny weather for our adventure down the Rangitata River which, given my meteorological history up until this point in the journey, was a feat and a much appreciated gift.

Our guide Dan spent the first 20 minutes on the river explaining just exactly how our boat full of novices was supposed to navigate two intense grade 5 sections without dying. There were four ladies and two men in our raft, so we put the guys out front with the understanding that they’d be the strongest paddlers, thus the most help in powering our way through the big stuff. Dan was adamant that we had to paddle with all of our might or we would flip the boat. He went into great detail about what to do if we were thrown out, especially during the grade 5s. I’ve been rafting twice and have never been so focused on paddling my face off. I’ve never fallen out during a grade 5 before, and I wasn’t planning to start now.

We practiced our newly acquired rafting techniques on a couple of bouncy grade 2s. And then I realized that due to two terrified men who stopped paddling at the first splash in the face, we were well on our way to drowning.

I submit this photo for evidence of the wussery. Notice the fellows up front with their paddles OUT of the water. Guess where Dan told us to put our paddles? IN the water. The whole time. Paddling like our lives depended on it. Because, yeah. They did. You see whose paddle is going to town on that river? That’s right. This girl!

If you decide to go whitewater rafting in Queenstown, New Zealand or anywhere, don’t be a wimp about it. You’re definitely going to get wet and there’s a chance you might get chucked into the river. The only advice I have: take brave men with you… or just raft with women. My group of gals was awesome.

I don’t get scared too often, but I thought we were goners going into the 2nd grade 5 rapid, which is about 300 meters long. If you get tossed out at the beginning of that one, you have a whole lot of obstacles (big boulders, melted glacier water and huge waves) to dodge on the way to flat water. And if we did get chunked out, I’d probably get clawed to death by one of our terrified men trying to save himself…

As you have probably figured out, we didn’t drown! And miraculously, we weren’t even thrown from the boat. I credit Dan and the four of us ladies who paddled for our lives while the boys cowered in the front of the raft. If you ever make it to the Peel Forest in the South Island, get in touch with Alex & Tussock at Rangitata Rafts for the ride of your life. Just take brave people.

PS – Your comments are SO appreciated! Would love to hear what you think about the blog so far…

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12 thoughts on “Rafting the Rangitata River”

  1. This is so funny! I love how the girls just showed up the boys! That’s our Ang! Thanks for posting it. It was a good way to start your day off.

  2. Hello from the Big Apple! Looks like you’re having the best time ever, Ang. Was thinking of you when that earthquake hit. Glad you’re ok. Love the blog!

  3. You know, I LOVE your explanations of everything!
    I rushed to your blog when we heard about the earthquake too! To see where you were at that time. Glad you weren’t in the midst of that !
    Aunti J.

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