White water rafting at River Valley (14th February 2009)

It’s Valentines Day today, which is just another ordinary day for me since I don’t have a special someone to spend it with this year. Even if I do, really, Valentines Day can be every day of the year if we wanted to – you don’t have to show and celebrate love just on the 14th of February, you know. Every day can be a special day if you make it one ;)

So what did I do today while lovebirds roam the streets and clog up cafes and restaurants? Well, me and 7 other friends decided to take a day trip away from Wellington to Taihape for an adventure – WHITE WATER RAFTING! Oh yeah, I LOVE white water rafting. Did it my first in Cairns and got hooked ever since. The adrenaline rush going through rapids in the beautiful outdoors is my kind of thing!

Got up at 7am to finish up my packing, picked up Dvita and headed to Flo’s place in Brooklyn while we waited for the rest to turn up. The group headed up north in 2 cars – Flo taking me, Dvita and Colm, while Rachel took girls Debs, Alice and Louise. This was also the first time I was going on a trip in NZ with a new bunch of travel buddies (I’ve always only travelled around NZ with Helbert). Felt a bit odd yet exciting at the same time :)

Colm and Dvita are insane! They would wind down their windows and shout “Hey cow!” at the herd of cows in the meadows we drove past. You can see the cows just look up at us, still chewing grass, as if saying to each other these humans must be nuts…haha…

Around 10am, we decided to stop in Levin for breakfast at Stationhouse Café after searching around for this café Flo had been talking about the whole morning. Next time, Flo – we’re hungry!!

Hmm, the lady behind the counter sure reminded me of those cooks in the kitchen of old English boarding schools, in particular those who would come out chasing you with the rolling pin if you were naughty. Hee…

Left the café at 10.45am and continued on our drive to River Valley located in Taihape. Looking at the website link Rachel sent me earlier this week, this place is an adventure centre – you can stay at the lodge and do other activities such a horse back riding and hikes too. We decided not to stay the night as the only rooms they had would cost us about $80 a night each which was too expensive for a night’s sleep.

Arrived at River Valley at 1pm for lunch. I wasn’t that hungry to go for their lasagne or macaroni and cheese lunch. Guess it was a mix of anxiety and my full breakfast earlier, I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my trip puking all the way down the river. That wouldn’t be fun at all. Instead, I had my muesli bar and Sanitarium liquid breakfast drink I had packed in my bag. Just something light for the tummy so I wouldn’t starve for the next 4 hours.

At 2pm, we were done checking ourselves off the name list and all geared up for rafting. Everyone was given wetsuits, thermals, jackets, reef boots and a helmet. Very different from my last raft where we wore only T-shirt and shorts but here, we were only allowed swimsuits and had to wear whatever else was provided. Some of our gears were still wet from the last raft. The guides passing us our items made sure we felt the water stream out from our already soaked gear. One of them deliberately squashed the helmet on my head several times! Eww…YUCK!!

I’ve got too much gaps in my gear…oversized…

I thought it was funny when the guides asked if we were part of some radio station’s Valentines Day competition. Apparently the majority of the crowd today were random strangers from around the country who won a V-day competition and the winning prize was a weekend of adventure sports spent with another random stranger you got paired up with. Haha, no, we didn’t win such a competition but here on our own :)

It was a small group half-day raft with only 4 rafts heading out today. We piled onto a van that took us to the start of our journey on the Rangitikei River, a wild, remote, free-flowing river with ample Grade (or Class) 4 and Grade 5 white water rapids. Ooo, this would be my first Grade 5 white water raft – the one in Tully River in Cairns was only a 3 or 4 because the water level was rather low when Helbert and I rafted then. So exciting!!! And yes, I am scared as usual when I take on any water-related adrenaline sports yet I still do them!

A safety briefing and group photos later, the group was split into smaller groups and we had to carry our rafts into the river. I had Flo, Dvita, Rachel, Alice and Louise in my raft along with Ant our guide of the day. Ant is an experienced guide (no one fell out the raft today) and a funny man too, making us laugh lots throughout the day. Colm and Debs were in another raft with other folks.

The gorge was just amazingly beautiful and peaceful, with a mix of shallow pebbly parts as well as world class white water rafting famous rapids such as Max's Drop, Fulcrum and Foamy. In fact, there are 10 major Grade 4-5 rapids on this 12km run, plus numerous smaller rapids. The water level today was considered to be just right though the water was still cold. Oh yeah, trust me, I know, because Ant pushed us all off the raft for a swim while he cruised along and picked us up at the end of the river pool. Naughty!

Of course, we HAD to splash any rafts that came to near ours :P For some braver souls, there was also a cliff which we could jump off near the end of the journey. Hmm, not for me though…I’m quite happy sitting in the raft. Maybe next time…

Returned to River Valley Lodge around 6pm. What an AWESOME time we had on the river! What a pity Helbert wasn’t here to join us – he would thoroughly enjoyed this experience! Can’t wait to do my next white water rafting trip – wonder where next time…Time to head for a shower and get out of our damp gears. Freezing!!

F&*k…there was no hot water to shower and I’m totally frozen!!

After everyone got showered, we went to the office to settle our bill for the raft. Cost us $145 per person and $60 for the raft CD which we split among ourselves. Thanks Rachel and Flo for organising this day trip – I’m so glad I came along!

Left River Valley around 7.15pm for dinner at Bulls. Rachel and the girls wanted to have fish and chips at this famous shop in Bulls but it was closed by the time we got there so we settled for whatever we could find. Arrived in Wellington around 11.15pm and I finally crawled to my bed at midnight. So tired now after all the workout earlier…zzz...Photos taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157615734452276/detail/


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