Today was all about water~some of it good and some of it less welcome! Let’s just say that I was glad to have a waterproof camera with me !
We booked the 9 AM rafting trip on the Kaituna River, just outside of Rotorua, where we stayed last night. We went with a company called Kaituna Cascades and click HEREto go to a link for that company and you will see some wild photos!
Again, our group was small, Jim and I were joined by a young couple this time from Sydney, there was our guide, who was in training, and the head guide. Once we were outfitted with wetsuits, fleece tops and helmets, we had some safety talks, then we loaded into a van and drove 150 meters to get to the put in. This trip lasted less than an hour but it was a heart-pumping, adrenalin-rushing hour. The river was pretty much non- stop rapids with 3 waterfalls! We were in a paddle raft so the guide (whose name we forget) would yell out paddling commands such as “all forward” or ” right back” to get the raft where it needed to be. We pulled into many eddies to recover from the last rapid or to take a photo or to get in position for the next rapid! The highlight of the trip was running the 7 meter waterfall! This company claims it is the highest commercially run waterfall in the world, and I can believe it. It was very scary as we got ready to drop over the falls, but once we were at the bottom and I realized we were right-side up, it was exhilarating! If you watch the video in the above link, you’ll see some of the fun we had!
After returning to their warehouse, and changing into our dry clothes we saw all the photos that another employee was taking from the shore as we moved down the river. Of course, we had to buy a DVD of the photos and maybe someday I’ll get some of those action photos up,on this blog.
We then had a three hour drive south to Tongariro National Park, where we hoped to take a short hike. The other couple on our raft trip had just been there and told us that they had hiked the Tongariro Crossing Track, a 19k hike that takes you up into the volcano fields of the park. The guide books all said that this hike was not usually opened until November because of the snow pack, but it must have been a light snow year to be opened already. We arrived at the car park to darkening clouds and only a few hours to hike. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing but we were pleased to be able to hike up 5k towards the surrounding volcanoes. After about 4k, the rain started and we couldn’t out-hike it. At the 5k mark we turned around and retraced our steps back to Jucy. This hike is known for its spectacular beauty and great views, but our luck ran out as we were here on a day when it was socked in. Being a volcanic landscape, there were lots of large hunks of black lava rock to hike over and around and we enjoyed getting sneak peeks of the 8,000 foot volcano tops when the clouds would momentarily lift.
Our pants and hiking boots were soaked by the time we got in Jucy and we were quite cold as high winds made the 8 degrees C. feel much colder. Fortunately, Jim found a Holiday Park that has great facilities. We’ve had terrific hot showers (with blow dryers for my hair), laundry facilities for our wet clothes (we had wet stuff from the raft trip, too), a drying room for our boots and a great kitchen/ dining facility where we cooked a pasta dinner and ate it! We’ll stay in this building until it is time to go to bed!
Tomorrow we are visiting a sheep farm and wool mill. Guess who is excited about that?!
Here are some photos from our day.