For the last section through the tunnel, we overshoot the entrance, and have to rock climb back to a suitable spot. We almost end up going over a very evil rapid called The Mother-in-law. We make it the second time. Just as well, as I don't fancy scrambling over the rocks again, dressed as the Michelin Man with slippery welly boots!
The tunnel is something else! Our man at the front who is supposed to guide us through, forgot to take his sunglasses off and can't see where he is going, so we keep bouncing off the walls. It is narrow, low and very, very dark, and right at the end we are thrown out into an amazing rapid where I am sure the entire raft is submersed as we bucke under. Pure excitement!
It is all really quite hard work. We hit the rocks alongside the river a few times. When we go through the rapids, the raft bends and buckles, gets filled with water and the "jump" out the other end. There are a few tricky sections where there are people standing on the bank (read: rocks) with safety ropes ready to throw at anybody who has fallen overboard. We are the only raft who doesn't lose any of its crew over the side of the raft. Good team!
Some stretches are really quite smooth, whereas some bits are too exciting for words! You are too busy paddling to have time to worry about your safety, although two people have actually dies on this strecth of river in the last month (November 1995), while rafting with Danes!
Before we even get to the river, we have changed into wetsuits, and on the river bank we are given life jackets, helmets and a paddle. Plus safety instructions. Lots of different orders to make us do different things. I am getting a little concerned at this stage, thinking "I'm never going to remember all this".
If you have never tried it before and have a relatively good heart, do try one of the many rafting trips which many of the fine rafting operators in Queenstown has to offer.
I believe one of the best operators is Queenstown Rafting, which has a very good track record, as well as reputation. We tried out a Shotover River Rafting Trip (with grade 4 rapids) organised by them and really enjoyed it.
Initially, I was a little apprehensive since I am really not a very adventurous person by nature, but took the plunge anyway and it was certainly worth it!
Equipment: Just your towel and maybe an extra set of clothings! They provide everything else.