Of all the activities to do in Rotorua, white water rafting is definitely the most exciting and exhilarating. Nothing quite beats the adrenaline rush that comes from navigating a challenging course of rapids in a raft and sharing in the thrill with friends, family or colleagues.
This inherently risky sport is so widespread nowadays that no one gives the origins of it all a second thought. At some point in history, some adrenaline junkie somewhere had to have looked at a choppy river and thought: boating down that would be fun!
Let us take a brief look at how white water rafting became a thing.
The Mad River
The first recorded attempt to conquer a white water river by boat was in Wyoming, USA, in 1811. The attempt was made by daredevils who were ill-prepared and had a rough go of it, causing most others to avoid attempting it again – at least on record. It was decided then that conventional rafts weren’t going to cut it.
Their wild experience on the Snake River led to the river being nicknamed the Mad River.
The First Rubber Rafts
The first known rubber raft for navigating rapids was invented about 31 years later, in 1842, when Lieutenant John Freemont and fellow inventor Horace H. Day made a raft out of four inflated rubber tubes and a wrap-around floor to survey the Platte River in Nebraska for the US Navy.
Over the ensuing 100 years, white water rafting in the USA continued to be attempted sporadically, usually in wooden boats. However, these trips were not for pleasure but rather endured out of necessity.
In 1940, the first commercial white water rafting trips were made along the Salmon river in Idaho.
World War II saw the mass production of rubber rafts and dinghies for military purposes.
However, after the war had ended, surplus rafts ended up being used by John D. Rockefeller Jr to start a white water rafting business on the Snake river, causing the sport to gain widespread popularity in the 1950s rapidly.
White water rafting truly gained international appeal as a sport after it was included in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. After this, white water rafting businesses popped up along rivers all around the world.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Take part in one of the most exciting activities to do in Rotorua – white water rafting! Join the long list of those bold enough to brave some of the Earth’s mightiest rivers for the adventure of a lifetime. Contact us at Kaituna Cascades to book your spot today!