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  • Day35

    Another Jet Boat and Waterpark in winter

    August 13, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C

    We started the day by driving the camper into town to the i site about 9am. We booked the Rapids Jectboat for the first slot at 12.30pm - this looked a bit different to the other rides we had done as it went over a patch of rapids in the river, so should be much bouncing up and down.

    We then went for a tasty breakfast before having a wander through the shops. We went into the All Blacks shop and came away with a rugby world cup shirt for me and Ed and a teddy that sang the Haka for Tash. With the shirts we got two free rugby balls, which we declineds to have pumpoed up to give us a chance of getting them on the plane!

    The weather was gloriou so the kids had half an hour in the playground in town before we headed off about 11.20 to catch the opening of the dam at the Aratiatia rapids. This is opened twice a day in winter at 12 and 2. We got there just as the ten minute warning siren was sounding and walked onto the bridge to see the gates open. A few more sirens sounded then they opened to allow water to flow through from the river which was much higher on the other side (we had jetboated up to this the previous day on the Huka falls jet). As the water built in the big pool below the dam the level started to rise and water began to spill down the rapids (described as the only level 6 whitewater in the world by the jet boat guy yesterday). he level contineud to rise and must have gone up 12 or 15 feet until what had been a gentle trickle was now a roaring torrent covering all the previously visible ricks.

    We then headed the couple of kms up the road to the rapids jet. On board we headed up to the end of the above rapids first and saw the water flowing out this end (by now the dam was shut so the torrent wasn't at its peak but still high). We did a few spins on the way, probably the fastest ones we've done with much sliding across the seats. Then we headed the other way across some small rapids with some bouncing until we hit the main rapid section. Probably only 100m or so long, but the water was raging and we did several circuits up and down them, each time getting faster and more intense until we were bouncing high in the air and out of our seats. On the way back upstream through them the boat sat on the rapids until more power was put on. I got pretty wet, including a huge mouthful of the (clean) water at one point. Ed loved it!

    We then went back upstream and stopped out the mouth of the narrowest section where water was forced under and bubbled up every few seconds near the bacnk as a mini eruption - and people swim and kayak this! More spins and high speed and the ride was over - the best one yet declared Ed and we agreed.

    From here we went back to our campsite to go in the hot pools, with Tash keen to do the waterslides. The water was heated but the climb up wasn't, but the sun was really warm now so it wasn't too bad out of the water. Sam booked a massage and Tash got a slide wristband - Ed wasn't keen and I was too heavy. After several slides Ed decided it looked like fun and got a wristband and proceeded to slide about 25 times! The water was nice and I just lounged in it - especially good was the bed like platform they had put in with bubbles of water coming through it. This stretch of river has been used in a few films we were told, most famously the Hobbit when the elves escape in barrels, this was filmed at the Aratiatia rapids, with 20 barrels being released each time the dam was opened for two days (no0one was in them!). A tree and the rapids we bounced in on the jet was in the Yogi Bear film when Yogi is on a raft. And for the film Without a Paddle a stuntman "swam" down them three times in full flow getting paid NZ$5k for each run, escaping with some stitches to a head cut.

    After a coupe of hours here we went back to the camper and the kids went to the playground (playing with tow other kids from Hawaii) and we waited for Matthew from Ed's class's mum Jen to come pick us up for dinner at 6. We went to Cobb and Co and had far too much food and a great chat with Jen, her mum and dad and friend Trudi. The kids had fun as there were playstations in the restaurant. There was confusion over the bill as another table had paid ours then been refunded so we all ended up having to pay in cash. We got back to the van about 9.15 a good night had by all.
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