Are you tired of hearing about New Zealand yet? No? Good, because I still have a couple death-defying stunts to relay much to tell. During my brief stint there, I had this handy little media pass in my possession that entitled me to discounts at a lot of the outdoors outfitters, as well as hotels, museums and attractions galore. I used that puppy to the fullest, as you can tell from past posts, cramming in as much as four or five activities in the span of a day. Then, all of a sudden, just like that, I ran out of things to do (in my price range, as least; while I would have loved to see Taupo by air, I did not love the thought of forking over $300 for a 20-minute helicopter ride). My hosts at the B&B I was staying at recommended I do this thing called the Squeeze (not on the pass, sadly), and it reminded me of something I did at Rock City in Chattanooga as a child, so I thought what the hey, where do I sign up?
Little did I know the Squeeze was a small part of a longer three-hour journey down the Waikato River, mostly comprising stunts in something Kiwis call a riverjet. I don’t have the best of luck when it comes to riding in boats on placid water—even when diving, the motion sick factor too often comes into play—so I wasn’t thrilled when the trip culminated with us speeding along at 90mph and our driver popping 360 after 360. This portion of our journey lasted the last hour, as I was slammed about from one side of the boat to the other, and it took two Sprites, a swig of Pepto and a couple hours for my stomach to recover. I would have video footage, if I weren’t hanging on for my own dear life.
After my first four days being glorious and sunny, I knew the weather would turn on me, so of course this day of all days—while I was in a skimpy swimsuit cruising along at top speed, as the wind and water nearly blinded me—was chilly and overcast. But the first part of the ride was pleasant, if not freezing, and after we dropped the other passengers off at the thermal springs park, who weren’t brave enough to strip down to their trunks in the 50 degrees outside, my guide and I continued on to the Squeeze. Lucky for my shivering bones, it was located in a thermal area where the water hit 90, so after the initial plunge, it was quite pleasant. At times, the water was just two feet deep, so we had to lay flat on the rocks and kind of swim through the channels—which often involved going through underwater rock tubes, scary—to keep warm.
This charming chap was not my substitute boyfriend for the trip, but rather the intrepid boat driver who showed me the way. We camped out in a couple waterfall pools we stumbled upon and just enjoyed taking a few minutes to soak in their goodness. The Maori tribes used them as showers back in the day; I rather felt like an Herbal Essence ad gone awry.
There were times we had to slosh our way through the woods on dry land between pools, at which point I noticed this lovely little government warning sign about keeping your head out of water because of the bacteria that calls the springs their home. I asked the guide about it and he said, “oh yeah, there was an outbreak a couple years back where a lot of children died of meningitis they picked up in the river.” Awesome. And thanks for mentioning that beforehand. Because see that picture above? That’s me not keeping my head out of the water. So now, every ear pain, throat ache, minor seizure, I’m convinced is meningitis. Or swine flu, one. Either way, I just can’t win.