A February 2004 trip
to Rotorua by nmagann
Quote: Whitewater jet boating is a rush with its 180 degree turns at full throttle, but nothing will ever compare to WHITEWATER SLEDGING Class 4 rapids without a raft. The experienced, friendly staff I encountered at each place is the reason I return to New Zealand. It is second to none.
Waitomo Wanderer Bus coordinates with the tour outfitters, so when we were 20 minutes late back from abseiling, they waited for us. And to top it off, we are delivered directly to our hostels in Rotorua. Within Rotorua, walking pretty much gets you where you need and tours pick up at your accommodations.
Both Kiwi Experience and the Waitomo Wander offer discounts to major attractions when using their transportation. They also offer multi-day passes.
The kitchen included plenty of counter space, a refrigerator, freezer, stove and microwave. And the dining table can accommodate 12 people. Just off the dining area is since sunny solarium for reading and relaxing, while the entire wall of the hallway s filled with brochures offering activities, accommodations and transportation in New Zealand. Booking for these items as well as internet access and email services are available.
At the end of the driveway are public payphones with prepaid paid phones cards for purchase from the receptionist.
Free lockers are there for available valuables and since there are no locks on the rooms you may wish to use them. Although the main doors are locked at 10pm, the owners live across the street, and this is a small hostel with beds for a maximum of 28 guests.
One combination bathroom and shower and two individual bathroom and showers are modern, clean and well stocked with hand towels and soap.
This hostel is not recommended for youths or anyone who wishes to make loud noise late into the evening. The location, facility, and owners are excellent.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2004
Funky Green Voyager
4 Union Street
Rotorua, New Zealand
The instruction book showed a few diagrams with the sledge (similar to hard plastic boogie-board) in the middle of the river at different angels with arrows indicating the directions in clock hand terms for upstream and left and right for downstream. Specific number of kicks and the angel to which you moved your leg were also discussed. We also received verbal instructions to keep our arms inside so as not to scrape rocks and holding the boarding at all times. Kicks were to be straight-legged to avoid knee accidents and we never to stand up as most accidents occurred when feet got stuck in rocks while the current continued to pull the body downstream. Lastly, we were shown how to right ourselves should we take on water and wind up with board on top of us.
Not really understanding some of the diagrams I passed the booklet on and began reading the guest book in the hands of the fellow next to me. After reading a few excerpts like: I never knew drowning could be so much fun, thanks for keeping me from drowning, and this is the most insane thing I’ve ever done, I choose not to read anymore.
When we arrived at the starting point, we were fitted with wetsuits, life jackets, booties, odd shaped fins and helmets with front cages. What have I gotten myself into?! Okay, scuba, skydiving, rafting, but this is a little unnerving.
After being given instructions on how to get across the river to the eddy, our group had to demonstrate our ability. If the guides didn’t think we could do it, that was it, they wouldn’t allow us to endanger others or ourselves. With four guides to our group of seven, this was SERIOUS fun. Fortunately, we all passed, and after a briefing of the obstacles and which side the next eddy was at for us to get out at, we took off. We were to be as close as possible to the person in front of us, but always in direct alignment with the front guide. I remind myself not to open my mouth as waves are breaking in my face from all different directions. And whatever happens, I must not loose my grip on the board. I was so intent on these two things as well as staying right behind the person in front of me I totally missed seeing the two boulders we skirted around. Nor did I ever see the photographer that was taking pictures of all of us. We reached the eddy and all managed to pull out and gave each other a pat on the back. This was good practice for the next two, which get progressively more difficult.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 17, 2004
Rotorua, New Zealand
Attraction | "Whitewater Sledging cont."
The last section of the river was complete whitewater with a huge waterfall drop. We were not to go the route of the waterfall, but had been instructed in how to go under the fall and not land flat should we miss the turn. The two guides that were always to side of the group were there to keep us from the waterfall and if not able to, assist in getting out of it. One of the guides did go over the falls to make sure no one slipped by. When we reached the end, we felt as if we climbed Mt. Everest such was the experience. We stood still long enough for a couple of group photos and pats on the back and then we wanted to get all the gear off and go for lunch that the guides supplied. During our fish and chips lunch, we all got to see our photos on the computer and all decided to purchase a CD, even at the price of NZ45.00.
On the ride back we all wrote in the guest book, as did I, but this time I took the time to read all of the comments, no longer intimidated. I thanked the guides for taking such excellent care of me. Talking with the lady next to me who had just done the class V rapids the day before which I was contemplating, I was told it would be a let down after sledging. What a shock to compare class IV whitewater sledging to class V rafting. Happy Birthday to me!
Just a side note, Kaitiaki Adventures has been sledging since 1989 and also offers whitewater rafting. There are 100% Kiwi owned and the guides all begin and end tours with a traditional Maori prayer which they explained was to pay respect to the people of the river and ask for safe passage.
Attraction | "Agrodome Adventures"
A zorb is large clear plastic ball that rolls downhill 200 meters with you inside. You have the option of zorbing in a dry zorb where you are harnessed in, obviously going upside down and other directions or you can opt for wet zorbing. Wet zorbing is where several buckets of water are tossed in with you and you are not strapped in. Because the weather was a bit windy, only the wet option was offered to me. I didn’t even think about the fact that in the wet version the ball revolves around you, as you slide in the water. You don’t get turned upside down at all, but the humidity makes it a little stuffy to breathe inside. You also have the option of the straight course or zigzag. The ride is over very quickly and nothing I would bother to repeat.
The agrojet ride is a high-speed boat ride around a small course at full throttle with tight turns and narrow passageways.
400 cubic inch
13 ft race boat
100 kpm in 4.5 sec
You are driven at high speed 4 times around the course seemingly to just miss the banks, as you’ll notice in the pictures. The look in the driver’s face shows how intense the driving concentration required. Although I’d love to drive it myself, I’d have to go considerably slower.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2004
Agrodome - Zorb Rotorua (Zorbing)
Western Road, Ngongotaha
Rotorua, New Zealand
64 7 357 1050
Attraction | "Off Road NZ 4wd bush safari"
The 4wd safari was really exciting with a course including a variety of obstacles with each one becoming more extreme. There were five vehicles all with couples except me. A various stops in the course our guide who was on a walking trail near us would have driver and passenger change seats. This meant I was the only one who got to complete all of the obstacles. Terrain was up and down hill with plenty of potholes and mud puddles. Nothing more than two wide logs served as a bridge at one point.
We stopped at different places to receive instruction on how to navigate the obstacles. These included a large, slick, flat rock at such angle that we wonder if the vehicle would tip over onto it’s side. Another was a fairly steep ravine filled with water that could flood our brakes if we went too fast.
At one point all vehicles were halted and everyone got out to listen to the guide. We were standing a shear drop that if it was straight down it was only off a few degrees. Two metal tracks each the width of a tire were being hosed down by the guide. We were given instructions that we were to drive right to the edge and stop keeping a grip on the steering well to keep it straight and foot glued to the brake pedal. After a comment made by one person, thinking along my thoughts, we were told we could not close our eyes because the tracks were not there to keep the wheels in line, but as a guide. We could in fact jump the track and be in trouble. He gave us an explanation of how the brakes lock up and at what point to take your foot off and return to traction by accelerating. Now the guide gave a gently push and away I went. Wow, what an experience. The vehicle didn’t flip, didn’t careen into the walls very nearby, I was just fine.
Each of quickly parked our jeeps and ran to a viewing spot to see the others come down and to hear the sounds of the brakes skidding as well as any from the driver. This was one time I was glad I was not last in line as I usually am or else I would have missed out on this. To see the sheer drop from above, to drive it, and then see it from the bottom was really awesome. $80
193 Amoore Road
Rotorua, New Zealand
Attraction | "Off Road NZ sprint car, monster truck"
You drive the sprint cars with the option of taking a passenger for free. You only need to shift once, as the course is driven entirely in second gear. For the duration of the 12 laps you keep your foot on the accelerator and maintain a tight grip on the steering wheel rounding the corners.
I don’t know whether it was the initial adrenaline rush or getting used to the small steering wheel that caused me to be off the track for 2/3 of the first lap. This was evident when I relieved my print out indicating the lapsed time for each lap. On the other hand, I was getting progressively faster with each subsequent lap. $30
Monster 4x4 ride.
I was really surprised how exciting the monster 4X4 ride was. Although this ride was only ten minutes, it seemed longer. My usual desire for being in the driver’s seat quickly disappeared.
After driving over an old VW bug, up and down a hill, we drove into a tunnel ditch. The clearance left barely enough room for the top to clear.
What I found so fascinating was that the front wheels were controlled by the steering wheel while the rear ones by a shift next to the driver’s seat. Even when going forward the front tires were never aligned horizontally. Going over into a ditch or over an obstacle, only one front tire would begin followed by the other front tire and one of the rear ones. I felt like we always going semi sideways. I couldn’t have driven this way! My body would have been twisting as if to direct it that way. $35
193 Amoore Road
Rotorua, New Zealand