Kaitiaki Adventures on the Kaituna River

On Saturday of our Easter weekend trip to Rotorua, Justin and I had an adventure on the Kaituna River!  We did white water rafting in the morning and sledging in the afternoon.   Just for your education in Maori, Kaitiaki (the name of the rafting company) means guardian or protector.  The word Kaituna (the name of the river) means Eel Food.  The Maori settled near and fought over the Kaituna River due to the abundance of food (eel) it provided.

White water rafting was amazing!  We rafted down numerous waterfalls on this grade 4 river including the highest commercially raftable waterfall in the world at 7 meters (21 feet for you metricly challenged individuals).  The guides were great incorporating some Maori culture into the trip mixed with tons of upbeat energy!  Luckily our raft did not tip over as the guides informed us about 50% do flip on the trip.  When we went over the large falls, our raft went completely underwater for what felt like a long time to me (probably a few seconds in reality).  But we popped back up no worse for the wear although I did lose my paddle and one of the guides had to dive in to retrieve it.  On one of the smaller falls, they let us all get in the water and hang on the raft rope and "swim" down the falls.  It was fun and you could really feel the force of the rapids pulling your legs around.  The guide then pulled all five of us back in a matter of seconds!  On the raft trip there were enough slow spots on the river that we had a chance to sit back and soak in the beauty of the river gorge.  It was so green and lush that it actually looked fake, like a ride at Disney World.  The water was crystal clear and not to cold.  It was truely a gorgeous and amazing site!

This isn't our raft but how cool is that!  Rafting down a 7 meter waterfall.

Again, not our raft but just to show some scale.
Sledging was an amazing experience!  We hiked down to the entry point carrying our sledges.  I really thought the guide was joking when he said "ok, Lindsay, go ahead and toss your fins down and climb over the rail and down onto that rock".  Really, we climbed over the railing down about 12 feet and onto some rocks on the side of the river.  Our group of six had three guides who really took care of us.  They instructed us before entering the river and before each set of rapids.  They told us how to approach and then led us down.  We really never felt unsafe and it was a rush to go down the rapids on a little sledge.  It took a little while to get the hang of it but once we felt more confident we had a great time.  Near the end, they helped us surf on one of the rapids.  We sledged up from the bottom of the rapid and "surfed" on it.  This was really fun so when they ask if we wanted to do it again we all said yes.  On my second time, I had trouble getting off the "wave" and ended up hitting myself in the face with my sledge while trying to roll over.  You actually had to roll over with your arms locked holding on to the sledge if you got in a certain situation.  Well, I bent my arms and bonked my lip.  I definitely had a fat lip but nothing serious. 

Me and one of the crazy guides

Surfing the rapid

First of a series...flipping out of the rapid

Still flipping....

and flipping....

There's my helmet...

And I'm almost back!

Just sledging around...I'm in the back

Justin ridin' the rapid!
Justin and I were exhausted after our adventure and had a few bumps and bruises.  This was definitely a great experience but not for the faint of heart!


CrazyUncle said...

I do not know who Photoshopped you into those white water photos, but they are really good at it. It actually looks like you were crazy enough to be flipping and sledging through class 4 rapids. Bumps and bruises and a busted lip (how alliterative) is a small price to pay for that.