We were all pumped up and ready to embark on an adventure with the crew at Queenstown Rafting. The day was beautiful, the sun was shining, the air was warm, perfect day to be throwing yourself down some grade 5 rapids and cooling off in this mid spring heatwave. We joined some other keen rafters in the Shotover street shop for a quick briefing about the day, team photo and we were all aboard the transport to the Shotover river. This bus ride is a short ride to pick up your gear, as you disembark the bus you will be guided through the wardrobe department, from booties to wetsuit, Make sure you bring swimwear and a towel ( nobody wants you to go nuddy under the wetsuit now do they) Once you have squeezed your way into the wetsuits, don’t worry its an unflattering process for everyone involved, you are back upstairs getting the spray jacket, helmet and all important life jacket. I fastened myself up, helmet strap and all to be told there was a bus ride, the bus isn’t going to sink so don’t get too hasty, especially if its a warm day, just carry your gear onto the bus. Now if you are lucky enough to be flying to the start point then board the bus heading for the helipad, if not, you are still in for one hell of a ride. Once aboard the second bus you will start the unforgettable coach trip into Skippers Canyon. The road you are about to hurtle down has been voted in the Top Ten most dangerous roads in the world, great, hold on! Skippers Canyon is famous for its gold mining history. the road was actually built by the miners as they travelled through the canyon during the gold rush when they realised they had found an actual gold mine at the bottom. Now this road was meant to last around 100 years and is going 150 years strong- but don’t worry the drivers are skilled and know exactly how to get you safety down to your raft!
The road is famous for its sheer cliffs, beautiful rock formations and incredible views (if you ask nicely enough the driver will take your phone back to base so you can snap away along the way) The bus ride down to Skippers is enough to get your adrenaline pumping, I’m a little scared of heights so when the guide decided to open the door and show us how close we were to the edge I was firmly clinging to my seat. The road gets wider and lower, thank the lord and you finally reach the river. The boats are unloaded and its time for a photo session with the rest of your crew before a hilarious safety briefing from ‘Chief’ the token Maori raft guide, listen carefully, he speaks quick, in the strongest possible accent, I couldn’t decipher his jokes from the serious safety advice, so we took EVERYTHING he said on board- quiet literally. Then you are off, paddle in hand, slowly cruising down the beautiful Shotover River. Now from the second you arrive at the rafting base to the second you finish your epic adventure the staff are second to none. The guide is informative, helpful and makes sure you safely have the best day possible. After teaching you and your boat how to forward, back & side paddle you are taught how to hold on and GET DOWN, if they are screaming get down, you get down and hold on for dear life otherwise you will be the white water rapids breakfast. However if you do fall out of the boat, the whole team is on board to get you back in, there is also a safety kayaker who travels the river with you and is the quickest man I have ever seen manoeuvre those waters. The rapids are aptly named Squeeze, Pinball, Jaws and Oh Sh*t…. The names sure match the rapid in front of you but by the end you are become somewhat of rafting pro. A lot of the river is pretty cruisy in preparation for the adrenaline pumping rapids, you get the chance to jump out, have a float down and quiz your raft guide about his life, job, where he’s been and pretty much his whole plan for the week ahead, they are super friendly and make you insanely jealous of their job!
Once you have tackled the rapids and you are just about getting your breath back it is time raft through the 170m Oxenbridge Tunnell before your final exhilirating descent down the Cascade rapid to complete your epic journey. The whole trip is around 4-5 hours long and is one to defiantly tick off your Queenstown bucket list. We highly highly recommend this incredible day trip! You can enjoy a hot Sauna and a cold beer at the cafe before you are whisked back of to Queenstown to collect your photos and video.