Wild River Boarding- Kawarau River

Of the many adventures to choose from in Queenstown, river boarding was something different for me to check out. I booked an afternoon trip from Serious Fun Riverboarding in downtown Queenstown which is the same place to meet up for your shuttle transfer with your guides to the river. They are located on Shotover street just across from the famous Fergburger.

The ride to your river launch point is quite scenic and about 40min long. We arrive at the Roaring Meg Power station and gear up there. Our main guide is Dallas from Utah. I’m with 5 other tourists from San Diego (small world). We are given instructions on communication signals, training on river maneuvers such as barrel rolls, 360’s, turning, kicking, board handling and how to enter and exit side pools.

We walk down a path to the river’s edge, put our fins on and enter the water. Now we’re ready for some maneuver practice. The water is about 56degF or 12degC but it feels fine with the wetsuit and gear. I’m paying close attention to all the instructions. After a few minutes of practice it’s now time to take off! We hit the rapids right away after a few kicks. It’s rather daunting when you see these waves coming at you but seriously exhilarating. I’m feeling a little bulky with the wet suit plus buoyancy vest.

You’re heart is pounding as you try to remember the proper maneuvers while holding onto your board correctly and watching for signals from Dallas. You’re kicking with bold force trying to keep the river from sending you into the rock walls jutting along the river. You hit some of these waves and duck under disappearing completely. You emerge and take a deep breath.

I was going pretty fast at first and kept getting ahead of the guide. I would do a couple 360’s to slow down cause I didn’t want to be ahead of him. I didn’t know what would be up ahead and wanted him to be first. Occasionally you get some pile-ups with other people since the river had it’s own plans for your course.

After a bit my legs were tired and I slowed down. Occasionally one of the guides would grab onto your board and steer you in the right direction.

We stopped at one side pool to rest while one guide and another tourist climbed up to jump off a rock back into the river. I opted out since I didn’t want to expend any further energy and save everything for the river. It wasn’t long before we pulled over again, this time to exit. I couldn’t believe we were done. I looked up on Google Earth later and measured the distance between our entry by the power station and exit past the gold mining place at 4.3 miles.

A shuttle was waiting for us to drive back to the power station. No one opted for a second run down the river, we were all too tired! But pleasantly tired, feeling like a job well done. As we geared down we started talking about burgers ( I think all that energy expenditure made us hungry) whether Fergburger or Devilburger was better but I’ll talk about those in another post.

We review our pictures on the shuttle back to Queenstown still feeling some adrenaline mixed in with tired muscles. While the pictures tell the story (facial expressions gasping for air) they still do not do the river experience justice. I highly recommend this experience. Wow! Seriously Fun is a good name for this company.

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