Now we do! Or at least, I seized the chance this week when my Australian sister-in-law and her family came over to Queenstown wanting to try some fun new activities. We signed up with Serious Fun Riverboarding for an afternoon "river surfing" excursion. I'd worried my son might be too young to come riverboarding with us, but nope. Serious Fun takes kids as young as 8, since they assign each kid a private guide who stays right with them and helps control their course through the rapids. (Adults are on their own! Under the watchful eye of the lead and tail guides, anyway.)
Going on a guided trip like this isn't cheap--it's more of a splurge activity, at least for us--but for the price, you get a full set of gear (wetsuit, booties, fins, helmet, bodyboard, lifejacket), and basic instruction on how to use the board and "read" the river, after which you get guided down twice through the "Roaring Meg" section of the Kawarau River. Each time, you go through 3 major rapids: Maneater, Roller Coaster, and Dead Cow (named for the unfortunate animal some early whitewater enthusiasts found stuck against a rock mid-rapid). These are Class 3 rapids; not so pucker-inducing as the Class 5 monster rapids we once rafted in the Grand Canyon, but containing more than enough standing waves and churning water to make a raft-less ride quite exciting.
|Getting a lesson from the guides before we enter the water. It's more strenuous than it first seems to exit the eddy in the foreground. You have to kick hard with your board pointed upstream, or else you get swept right back into the shore.
|Entering the water. Bring on the rapids! (I wore goggles to protect my contacts. Otherwise I'd have lost them in about 5 seconds flat once we hit the first rapid.)
|One of the Kawarau rapids we traveled
|My husband, navigating like a pro
|My son having a great time, thanks to the skills of his guide
|Entering the rapid: woo hoo!
|Ack, get on the board!
|We all made it in one piece.
|Second time through: oh hell yeah!
|A wild ride through Roller Coaster
|This time I didn't fall off my board!