Day 81: Queenstown day 2

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February 16th 2010
Published: February 26th 2010
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Day 81: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Queenstown, New Zealand

I had the morning excursion this time, white water rafting, so Alex got to sleep in. I met up with Jen, Tara and Bryce in the lobby and the white water rafting people picked us up shortly. There were some other Contiki folks who were doing a helicopter ride into the canyon and then would join up with us at the beginning of the rafting. We had a very hair raising ride to the river. Our bus (basically a school bus) drove down a very narrow dirt rode that 90%!o(MISSING)f the time was on a sheer drop off of a mountain. Whew! We get to the rafting place, get into wetsuits (soooo much easier when they're dry- much unlike the Glow Worm excursion!), and take another quick van ride down to where the rafts will be launched. The four of us get put into a raft with a couple of German folks, had a quick safety talk, and our guide pushed us off down the river. We were the lead raft so it was nice seeing just nature ahead of us. They had had a 3 week drought so while the water was impressive, our guide showed us marks on the wall that indicated where the water usually was. I think we all had our doubts when we signed up for this excursion because the previous Contiki group had remarked on how boring it was. Emmo pointed out that all of those folks were hung over when they did it and that we should give it a chance. I'm glad we listened to him because this was one of the highlights of New Zealand to me- so much fun!

The rapids were only a level 3, so nothing too bad. But still exciting enough to cause a moment of panic/addrenalin. At one point, the river was calm enough that Jen and I got out and floated along the river. The water was definitely "fresh" (Emmo talk for cold) but the wetsuits helped. We got back into the raft and went thru a particularly exciting section of rapids and then we pulled over to make sure all the other rafts made it okay (part of the fun of being lead raft.) We were all sitting there chatting when the guide hollered to the kayak rescue guy (who waited at each rapid for us) that someone had fallen out of the next raft and was on their own. We all watched as Nicole, a fellow Contikier, went sweeping by. And the four of us all went "Oh shit, it's Nicole." It seems that if anything was going to go wrong on this trip, it went wrong to this girl. They pulled her out of the rapids and she was fine, just understandably scared. There's much I could say, but I'll just say this one thing- I really wish she had "owned" the story and told it as a cool experience instead of whining about it for the rest of the trip. She decided to keep a negative perception. To each their own.

The rafting ends with us going thru a tunnel that the miners had created to divert the river. Then, you get out of the tunnel and have one more crazy rapid (and this is where they snapped my favorite shot of us.) Again, no cameras allowed, they wanted you to focus on staying in the raft/alive. So, we paid the money for the photogs pics. We walked back up to the rafting lodge, got back into our clothes and took off for town. I texted Alex that we were on our way and met up with her at Fergburger which is a burger chain that is supposed to be amazing. It had a hell of a line going out the door, so that's a good sign. We (Alex, Jen and myself) got our order to go and ate it on a nearby beach where Tara later joined us. Then, Alex and I caught the bus to go back up to the hotel.

We had a couple of hours to chill and do pedicures before the bar crawl that night. I wanted to hang with the group which is why I coughed up $10 to follow them around. We ended up staying for about 3 bars and then even the drinkers of our little group were ready to go. I'm sure it got crazy and was a lot of fun... maybe I'm too old mentally for Contiki because I like being in bed before midnight. On our way to the taxi stand, we stopped at a convenience store. They had a Slushie/Slurpee/Icee machine there that was so cold, the outside had ice all over it. I turned to Jess and told her that I dared her to ask the clerk if the Slurpee's were cold. She did, and delivered the line wonderfully. Unfortunately, Alex and Tara hadn't heard me give the dare, they just heard her delivery and instantly started teasing her for asking what they thought was a stupid question. I was a mean friend as well because for a minute I played along and said "No, I never told her to say that." I let her off the hook and as we were walking down the street I was telling Tara to give Jess some credit, she had some wit. I believe my sentence went like this... "She's not that scatterbrained, you don't need to - oh Jess, watch out for that pole- ... never mind." She picked a bad time to look back at us to see what we were talking about and almost walked into a light pole. I know this isn't translating right, let's just say we all found the event very funny. We got back to the hotel and ended our giggling night.

Additional photos below
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3rd March 2010

You saved a bus full of tourists from going over a cliff?
Let us bow our heads a moment, and remember poor Nicole, lost forever at sea... uh, at river...

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