Trip Start Oct 28, 2004
105Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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After a quite morning without Mike and drinking soda at a tavern (the owners opened up for us and didn't allow us to pay) we were picked up in a bus by our driver/guide, Grant, a big guy with a great bleached mohawk who drove us through the "Burnt Penis" forest to the town of Maurapa, known for abortions and marjiuana, to find our river. (The forest is translated from Maori into Burnt Penis. We didn't ask for a backstory but i can only assume that it's a good one.)
Our first activity was not to meet the other two guides but rather to tear out of our clothes and climb into wetsuits,thermal shirts (molly's was purple), life jackets, aqua socks, flippers and hockey helmets. Once outfitted we climbed into the van and drove to the river while one of the guides, Steve, rapidly threw out the finer points of sledging at us.
We were told that we would approach the hardest two rapids upon entering the river and that it would be one of the hardest things we would ever do. After a quick training session on the land, the three guides led us in a Maori prayer honoring the river and welcoming us as friends. We continued to do a bit more practice in the water and then we were sent into a grade 3 rapid, 200 meters long with Grant yelling "Welcome to New Zealand" as we kicked our way through.
Molly and I made it through succesfully, but others didn't. Two of the big guys had to get out and walk for the second half of the river. The second rapid was class 4 and had the threat of going the wrong way and going over a 7 meter fall. It scared everyone enough and it was a pretty tough 300 meters. I spent most of it being pulled underwater, causing my knee to have a ridiculous bruise, and Molly went down backwards. Being two of the only four who made it on our own, Weka (pronounced like the cultish religion) told us that there really was no way to go over the falls but it made it a better story if we thought we could. Weka hung with us and grabbed loose boards as they floated down while the other guides went and indiviudally helped the others down the river.
Having proven ourselves, we were sad that we only had one rapid left. However, it was 1 k long so we had enough time to have fun. Everyone else complained as per usual but made it out alive enough to talk as if they were heroes.
We floated down the river for awhile and then got out, packed up, and the three guys sang a Maori Chant in honor of the river. Amazing. They absolutly love their country and love what they do and were so fantastic that we couldn't have asked for a better day.
But oh, it got better. We got back to camp and they all let us take hot showers and when we were finished had a whole spread of fish and chips. We devoured it like we haven't eaten in weeks. Oh wait...
Now I want you all to get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down sledging on your list of things to do before you die. And since you can only do it in New Zealand you might as well do it while we're here. So...COME VISIT.
***Now for all you Amazing Race fans out there*** Yes, this is the same sledging that you saw on this past season of AR. And yes, the guides that took down Chip and Kim were Steve and Weka. However, they did a different river than we did. They had a half hour and just did 3 waterfalls. No rapids, just falls. We had 2 hours and a much harder river. While it's cool they got to do it they totally missed out on the humor and the tradition the guides shared with us. Much more meaningful for us. But yes, the guys were proud of their time on tv.