Once upon a time, five young people were looking for excitement. They were in New Zealand to study, but one weekend, what they did had nothing to do with studying…

My new friends and I were in Rotorua, on theNorth Island, for the weekend. We planned to gowhitewater rafting at Kaituna Cascades. On arrival, the weather was bad, cold and a bit rainy, but this was not a big deal as we would be getting wet anyway.

First we had to put on wet suits, still freezing wet. Then, we were given a very nice blue pullover with sheep on it (this is New Zealand, after all), wet as well.

I then asked for the temperature of the water. “Oh this is pretty hot today,” says our guide as 
I start smiling. “It’s 15°C.” 
Well, in my opinion, 15°C is not “hot”. But okay, let’s do it!

Then our guide taught us the security movements, “just in case the boat turns upside down, because it happens almost all the time”. Good, so I will have a bath in freezing water… 

Now or never

Armed with our paddles we arrived at the river, ready to raft, ready to communicate 
with nature, ready to fight and… ready to get wet.

Wet suit? Check. Helmet? Check. Life jacket? Check. The journey started well and even if the weather was bad, we did appreciate the landscape, the green environment, the huge trees. Suddenly the instructor started shouting “paddle stronger!” And we felt that the real thing was about to start.

The first acceleration was cool, but not too strong, not too difficult. I was saying, “is that all the falls we will have? It’s not that terrible!” Big mistake. It was just the beginning.

We were on the way to the first fall, a small one only a few metres high. We had to back paddle before jumping into the fall. The instructor then said loudly: “Okay guys now it’s The One. The fall here is between six and seven metres and it’s very abrupt so, if you want to leave, it’s now or never.”
At that moment I understood why the rafting club had asked us to sign a paper saying that 
if something bad happened to us, it wouldn’t be their fault. I wanted to leave but I wanted to stay.

I knew I would regret any choice I made. I thought: “Come on! You already made a 182 metres bungy jump! Here it’s just six metres.”

Adrenalin shot

And so the boat approached the fall, with me still in it, and tumbled over at a heart-stopping 90°. The raft turned upside down and we were all thrown out.

I don’t really know what happened to the others. I fell so deep into the water I thought I’d never see the sky again. I had the impression I had to escape from a washing machine.

My helmet went down over my eyes, the life jacket went up over my throat, I drunk around four litres of water, before finally taking a deep breath.

But my torments weren’t finished. I had come up under the boat. And guess what?

I was the only one under the boat. Did I mention that I’m a bit claustrophobic?

But I stayed calm, waiting for the instructor to turn the boat over, which he did quickly. We then climbed back inside the boat. Is everybody here? Nobody drown? Apparently not.

I was so excited. The adrenalin was driving me crazy, I was screaming that it was so cool and that I wanted to start back. We were all laughing and… oh, shaking! Wow! Love adrenalin shots! Love rafting! I just hope I will do it again from higher!

August 16th, 2010