My World Tour: Sledging - Rotorua, New Zealand
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by our Canook Friend, Christian Wolters. After
reading this email from him, I knew I had to go do it!
Bruce is in the dark helmet with the white vest (see top left photo)
Sledging you ask? Well its no mystery if you have been to New Zealand or even Zimbabwe but to those who are in the dark, sledging consists of riding down grade 4-5 rapids while holding on to a plastic sled designed to carry you over the rough water and yes-the very sharp rocks! Not to be confused with river boarding, that sport consists of body or boogy boarding down a river wearing flippers. River boarding is crazy but is much better suited for high volume rivers not the ones lined by rocks.
After some brief instruction like turning left and turning right, power kicking (the guides call it Turbo) and how to ride the sledge high when you go over rocks we were ready to face the wild waters. We are briefed on the river, first a few small waterfalls, then three car size waves and then make a hard kick to the left to avoid a 7M waterfall and ride down a hydro slide. Cool! We are ready to go.
Now I have had a lot of white water experience like rafting the Rouge river on a small canvas dingy, kayaking the Ottawa and White Nile, so I was not expecting anything too alarming. However the first thing I noticed was the lack of water and the overabundance of rocks. I thought to myself, "no... this can't be, lets try a little kick to the left". As soon as my leg started to kick I got a knee full of rocks-ouch! " I guess there are rocks!" Then the guide yells "ride it high!" We hit the waves in quick succession. At this time the neat lineup we started in has been shattered, some guys are stuck on rocks and in eddies before I know it I have made my way to the front of the pack behind the lead guide. At this time I hear the roar of the ominous waterfall. I hear the guide shout " Left, left.....Tuuurrrbbboooo!" I think, "This can't be too bad, if I go over, it should be an OK landing otherwise the guides would not have taken us down here". Luckily I don't test this theory and I make it to the top of the hydro slide. I think again, "This can't be" The slide takes half of the river's water and then compresses it through two giant boulders shooting the water into a pool 7 meters below. With this depiction in mind I thought I was going to be crushed between two rocks. I wasn't going to survive! I just see the guides legs cross over from the pressure as he plummets into the slide, I don't dare yell as to avoid a mouthful of water. I fall into the shute...all I see is white water and I hear the sledge bounce of the side of the boulder like a skipping stone. Splash! I am through! I am through...thank God! Later on one of the kayakers mentions that it was good we avoided the waterfall..."It get really messy in there!"
Bruce and Julia, World Travelers and
Adventure Seekers Extraordinaire.
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Revised: 05 Feb 2007 20:21:27 -0600 .