Jet Boating

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , Canterbury,
Sunday, April 28, 2013

Woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning with a Nor-Westerly blowing (sounds strange that the warm breezes come from the North).  We had a yummy Sunday brunch outside in the sunshine and then we got geared up for jet-boating.

Now this is something we've seen a few times in New Zealand.  Tourists can pay to go up the river in a fast and noisy boat. New Zealand has several large river beds all starting with the glaciers in the mountains that make their way out to the sea. These can change greatly with the seasons and water levels. A lot of the time they are gravely places where the water snakes it's way through several weaving paths. From above, they make beautiful shimmering designs and are aptly names 'braided rivers'.

Chucky's parents just so happen to have their own jet boat (what good Kiwi family doesn't?). So we were off to the Waimakariri river and started zipping upstream into the wind. The speed of this boat is only rivaled by the noise that it creates. The V8 engin uses a jet system, similar to a jet ski. It also have almost no keel, meaning that you can go in really shallow water skittering and plaining across the surface.

Chucky had a very tough job navigating. Once in the river, there's limited scope to see what the river is doing. All you can really see is the water in front of you. It's almost impossible to see what the parallel waterways are like. Every so often, these merge and there's a splot second decision as to which will be better to navigate. How shallow will it be? Will there be obsticals we can get past? Like a maze, we would twist and turn along various streams hoping that we could continue. But what if we hit a dead end?

It wasn't that long until we heard the first snick of a rock on the bottom of the boat and saw the water narrow to a little rock-edge with water tumbling over it. What to do? Stop, or increase speed with the hope of clearing the rocks? Steven took the safe route and immediately killed the engin. Without the speed behind us, the boat immediately settled onto the rocky bottom and stuck.

Now for the real fun of jet-boating and that which the tourists runs don't usually encompass. Out went Steven trying to lever and push the boat back to deeper water. Soon Brian joined in, but the weight was still too much in the boat. Out Linsday and I got into the rushing knee deep water. Lindsay couldn't stay in as her feet immediately started to cramp with the cold. It was like it was glacial ice water or something! With much pushing and pulling, we finally made it. Probably only about 30 meters in total, but when each push only gets you 20 cm or so, it takes a lot of effort!

Not seeing any other viable options to continue up stream from where we were in the braid, we decided to head back. Amazingly, we took a different route from which we came, with new challenges along the way!

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