When it comes to holiday activities, sometimes there’s a bit of persuasion to be performed on Mr Beet. But sometimes, he will just flat-out refuse and I know there is no wheedling to be done. Since the surfing debacle a few years ago, anything that involves him getting dunked in cold water is a no-no. So, when it comes to canyoning, white-water rafting or waterskiing, I know not to waste my breath. So when I went to the tourist information centre to book a white-water rafting trip, I was fully prepared to go it alone. When the woman behind the counter advised that they would need two people for a trip, and nobody else was signed up, I was prepared to call it a day. But then the women turned her steely tourist-information gaze on Mr Beet, and before we knew what had happened, we had booked two places on the boat.
After a sleepless night (for Mr Beet – I slept like a log), the next morning we were waiting by the side of the road to be met by our instructor. As we were waiting, this song came on the radio. Before we knew it, we were suited, booted and life jacketted and ready to ride the rapids.
The Buller Gorge is a very pretty stretch of grade 3+ rapids. The instructor knew that Mr Beet was not keen (the tourist information woman had told him, plus Mr Beet was looking a bit green), so he thoughtfully tailored our trip so that he told us to hunker down on the floor of the boat when we went over anything too big. It was still very fun, very wet and very bumpy, but there was little risk of either of us falling in from this position. After the first couple of rapids were over, Mr Beet had completely settled in and he really enjoyed the trip from then onwards.
At one point, we had the option of hopping out of the boat and swimming down a set of rapids. As much as he was now enjoying himself, this was a step too far for Mr Beet. I hopped in and, to the sound of the instructor saying “just hold your breath” and Mr Beet saying “I don’t think this is covered on our insurance“, I was swept into a washing-machine-like rapid. To say that I was swimming would be a downright lie, I was just trying to keep myself pointed in the right direction. It was a real thrill, but I couldn’t breathe at all so I was glad it was all over in about ten seconds. Before I knew where I was, Mr Beet had hauled me back in the boat and I was stuck face downwards with my legs in the air. Once I had righted myself, we had another few rapids to negotiate. We stopped off at a point where you can, if you so choose, jump off a 5m high rock into the river. I had a look and decided that, on this occasion, I did not so choose, and got back in the raft!
More pictures on Mr Beet’s flickr page.