Queenstown, New Zealand. Packrafting in the Rees Valley.

After my utterly crazy morning jumping off a ledge 143m high, the next day was a lot more sedate, but I have to say absolutely brilliant fun.

I was looking at things to do and one of them in particular piqued my interest, pack rafting.  Having not heard of it before, essentially it’s a hike with a small inflatable canoe as part of your backpack.  After you’ve done your walk you inflate the canoe and then paddle down the river you just walked up.

It sounded good fun, so after conversing with an American friend who I met up with in Queenstown, we booked.

We got picked up outside the Sofitel at 08.30 along with eight others, plus the two guides who’d be showing us the way.

It was roughly an hour and half drive to the Rees Valley, where we’d be hiking for the morning.  At around 10.00ish we arrived and our two guides explained was what in the packs, and how we should wear them with the paddles.

Additionally they provided some neoprene socks to wear as we’d be wading through some water.  All of us were pretty sceptical about how useful they’d be over regular ones but we gave them a go.

It was a beautifully clear morning and so we set off along the valley.  Here’s a few photos from the walk.

A few in the party were strolling at a leisurely pace, so in total it took roughly 2 ½ hours for the 7.5km trail.

By this time we were all pretty hungry so stopped for lunch which was a sandwich and provided by the tour.

After we’d finished, it was time to change into the wetsuits provided and inflate the boats.  This was done manually with an inflation sack, which took roughly five to ten minutes to get to full inflation.  All of our clothes went in a dry bag on the front and we sat towards the rear.

The guides gave us a short guide to what to do with the boats, and after that short demo, we were off.  We first paddled up the river a short way as the river narrowed and was flowing more quickly, being the novice that I was became quite hard to control the boat.  After a few minutes we turned around and started downstream towards where we started.

Unfortunately whilst the morning was sunny and crystal clear, during lunch it had started to cloud over a bit and the breeze picked up a little.

There were a few occasions where the water was quite shallow and the boat grounded so we had to stand up in the water and push ourselves on.

The journey back to the start took about an hour and half with lots of paddling in places.  There definitely weren’t any rapids, but there were a few faster bits of water that were fun to go through.

Once we got back to the end of the rafting part, the guide very helpfully deflated the boats for us, whilst we all got changed back into our dry clothes.  There was roughly a further fifteen minute walk back to the mini-bus when we could get properly dry.

Thoughts

It was a brilliant day out.  I had so much fun and wasn’t completely dead at the end of it.  A fantastic walk and a great paddle down the river with some incredible scenery.  Highly recommended.  If you’re interested in finding out more, the link to the people we used is here.

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