Everyone has heard of white water rafting the 7m waterfall with Kaitiaki Adventures in Rotorua, the largest commerical waterfall in the world to raft over. However, before these inflatable boats came along there was a different means of transportation in those rivers, and that was Sledging. Pretty much as it says, you take control of a sledge for 45 minutes and the golden rule, I repeat, number one golden rule, is to not let go.
This sledge and some awesome, albeit playful, guides will take you through whitewater rapids on the Kaituna River. All you need is a helmet and portable floatation device (apparently this is the politically correct name - these guides know it all). Oh, you also need to listen and refrain from panicking. A lesson I learnt after the first rapid. I've got to be honest the training started to freak me out especially when I realised how heavy the sledges seem. However, its all so much easier in the water and makes more sense.
Kaitiaki Adventures combines action packed adventure with Maori Culture giving the whole experience more substance. By understanding the history behind the Kaituna River and the surrounding area you can appreciate your adventure for being the unique experience that it is. Like all good adrenaline sports the guys at Kaitiaki Adventures like to make the most of your time and get you stuck in, so you pretty much hit the water, get acclimatised and hit the first rapid. Mine can only be described as a lump of black plunging like a brick in to the water below. However, in my head it was successful, I survived and was still attached to my sledge. It's all good though, you still get made to feel like you're safe and not a complete loser.
" ...Kaitiaki Adventures caters for everyone, not just the complete nutters (I actually think they just hire them)... "
A little time to breathe and the next rapids are approaching, a double rapid. After a more successful first rapid, Dax one of the guides asks "England, want to do something crazy on the next one?" As if! One face flop is bad enough, however Dax's enthusiasm is contagious and so I half spoke half spat water "Ok".
Down the next rapid and I find myself spinning round and round in circles, which admittedly was a lot of fun. Gliding with the current is awesome, Kaitiaki Adventures caters for everyone, not just the complete nutters (I actually think they just hire them).
The rapids get more and more fun as you go along and Andy and Dax were awesome at yelling instructions at what you should be doing. The biggest highlight for me was going out on top in the group at rapid surfing. Essentially you randomly swim in to the rapid and surf it. I held my own, didn't go under and stayed surfing for the longest time much to everyone's amazement. Truth be told, the only reason I stayed there was because I had forgotten how to get back out again.
So with sledging, there isn't a world famous waterfall but it is the original activity and no matter how poor you think you will be at it, you will survive, enjoy it, and feel like getting straight back in with a sledge again. That's the key it appears with Kaitiaki Adventures White Water Sledging, you just enjoy yourself. If you managed that then nothing else matters.