Having abseiled down some waterfalls, I might as well raft over others now. Certainly nothing like the monstrous 80m+ high waterfalls I rappelled down, but at 7 meters, the Kaituna River hosts the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. And you actually have a series of waterfalls through the whole trip. Even though I’ve rafted twice, I’ve never done waterfalls or a Class 5 before. This trip would encompass both.
The first set of waterfalls are sort of the ‘trial’ before getting to the big one. They still are plenty intimidating once you get to them, both being a few meters high.
Over the first falls we went. After lining the raft up we pretty much just hold on. I’m in the front left spot of the boat.
I need to learn to keep my mouth closed. I drank a lot of river water.
Then we paddled over and attacked the second falls.
The two guides were so much fun – Raana, at the back of the raft, in particular was outstanding. One of the best guides I’ve had for any activity so far here in NZ.
After a few more small falls/rapids not pictured, you get one final stopping spot. You have the opportunity to hop out if you didn’t enjoy the falls portions, or if Raana thought someone might be in danger because they weren’t following instructions, etc, he could get them out at this point. The next waterfall means business.
All of us stayed in the raft, and over the falls we went.
It’s hard to get a sense from the pictures just how high this was, but having the raft fully vertical and not even covering most of the falls is a good start.
And down to the bottom of the falls we fell.
The drop is more than enough to submerge everyone in the raft, along with the raft itself. I believe they mentioned about 1 in 10 rafts flipping at this point, tossing everyone out. I was only a tiny bit disappointed we came out upright. Eventually. 😀
After the main set of falls, it’s mostly hot-dogging from here. Compared to the other rapids I’ve done (Class 3 in Ecuador and Class 4 in Costa Rica), these were very calm and short rapids, but still enjoyable. Because of the relative calmness after any rapids, we could do things like standing up in the raft while going over.
At another point I hopped off the raft and simply just held on as it went over some small falls. That was fun! Also not pictured unfortunately. 😛
Finally, we finished with some surfing in the rapids.
All told, it was a great experience. You are only rafting for about an hour so not too tiring by any stretch. It’s definitely made so that anyone can do it – and I think it’s one of those great experiences that really, anyone SHOULD try it if you are near Rotorua. It’s also one of the most affordable activities here in NZ, at around $80 if paying full price (I paid $40). Which is inexpensive for NZ standards. The rapids other than the main waterfall barely would rate Class 3 I imagine, so they aren’t scary in the least but still lots of fun to go through, and the waterfalls are handled with a lot of safety. I was really impressed with everything about the couple hours I spent with the Kaitiaki crew, and it’s going to be a fond memory from Rotorua.