So you’ve done the white water rafting thing and it was a breeze, right?
Well now it’s time to get right into the water for some serious mind-blowing fun.
River sledging is the most basic, hands on, ‘face in the water’ style of white water rafting. All you need is your swimsuit and an absolutely positive can-do attitude. The commercial operators will outfit you with a polystyrene sled or modified boogie board, plus flippers, wet suit and helmet. It’s one of the most exciting water sports around and calls for a fair degree of nerve and a solid grasp on the sledge.
Sledging operators give comprehensive training in the quieter backwater eddies before you venture into the main stream. They test you in a moderate current to ensure that you can keep the sledge under control while ignoring the disconcerting face-buffeting waves. Once the party sets off it’s a real buzz to flow downstream completely at-one with the current, riding through the conflicting sideways motion of eddies and whirlpools and the solid slap of stopper waves.
The turbulent rivers around Queenstown and Wanaka are the main focus of this adventure sport. Several companies run 3-5 hour excursions on the Kawarau and Clutha rivers, with names that conjure up visions of thrilling white water action – Mad Dog River Boarding, Serious Fun and Frogz Have More Fun. In the North Island one operation on the Waingongoro River in Taranaki actually involves running rapids on a sledge, and then ‘dam-dropping’ over a high weir as a climax.
Look out for these fun-filled adventures as you travel around the country. They are an interesting variation on the rafting theme – you don’t just get drenched you get completely saturated. Being immersed in the raging current is not for the faint-hearted – it’s wicked, waterlogged and wonderful fun.