Today was the most challenging day we have had so far on our New Zealand trip but also the most fun.
Us Women’s Aboriginal AFL Academy girls were given the day off training and instead we were told we would have to face some of our deepest fears.
The day started with a trip to a mountain in Rotorua which involved us going in a cable car or gondola suspended on cables right to the top.
Initially, I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been on one before and it looked like they went really high up off the ground.
I was worried about if something went wrong and being stuck up there.
It was really cool in the end looking down over all the green scenery. I took heaps of photos, including some of sheep and deer that were wandering up the mountain.
When we got to the top there were a bunch of mountain bike riders going even further up so they could tackle the tricky course all the way down.
There was also this huge slingshot ride called the Sky Swing. Some of the girls were excited and they rushed over to line up but there was no way I was doing it.
The ride had three seats inside this kind of a ball-shaped cage and they got pulled way up high in the air and then had to pull a cord which flung them out over the edge of the mountain. It was such a nice view but it would have been so scary up there swinging back and forward and turning around and around.
From there on the you could see the whole of Rotorua. You could see the town, the green hills around it and the big lake. You could definitely see the edges of the volcano crater.
One of the girls, Shahleena was terrified but decided to do it after some of the girls encouraged her.
She screamed so much on the way down but when she came off she was so excited and just wanted to see what we were going to do next.
We then grabbed helmets and got on these little carts called luges. There were three courses down the mountain. You could only pick the scenic route or the intermediate route because the expert route was closed.
I was happy with that because I didn’t even know how to steer or control the thing. I was terrified about crashing or just not being able to slow down. You had to push the handles forward to go and pull them back to break.
In the end, I don’t know why I was so scared. It was so much fun and once I hit a few of the corners I ended up going really fast and overtaking some of the girls.
We then had to catch a chairlift back to the top and that also made me nervous because there was a bar across you but you could just about jump off if you wanted to. Our legs were just dangling over the edge. I’m glad Kimberley from our team was sitting next to me so we could chat and calm each other down.
We ran out of time so we had to catch the cable car back to the bottom and get back on the bus. I was terrified about what was coming next. We were going white water rafting!
The people at the white-water rafting place were really nice and they explained everything a few times. We got changed into wetsuits with thermals and put on our helmets and then they took us out to the river.
I was excited but pretty scared at the same time. A few of the girls were nervous too. One of them, Evelyn, was freaking out and crying because she wasn’t sure she wanted to get on the raft. There were five of us in the raft with the instructor. He made us all feel calm but we all helped to reassure Evelyn and each other that things would be ok. It was a good show of teamwork.
The first few rapids had me worried but because I knew how to hold on and what to do if there was a problem, I started to get confident.
But then we stopped on the side and they told us it was our last chance to get out before the big waterfall. It was a drop – the biggest waterfall they let people go down for commercial purposes in the world!
I took a deep breath and decided to stay. Our boat reached the edge and then it was all a blur. It felt like we had capsized but in truth, we just went right underwater and nearly tipped. It felt deadly to come out on the other side, even though we were a bit wet. Even Evelyn was happy.
Two of the girls fell into the water. They stayed calm and got rescued. The rest of the rafting was a lot of fun and the valley around us was really beautiful.
At the we got to go to the edge of the waterfall in the raft and lay at the front of the boat. They called it surfing. I just ended up getting really wet.
We finished up, packed up the boats and headed back to the office to change and have lunch.
I felt so proud of myself and all the girls for doing the rafting. It proved that you can overcome your fears, especially if you have good people there to support you.
But I know now that I have another big day tomorrow. We are going to hike up a mountain for nearly 20 .
I’m also excited because I know my ancestors would do hikes like that, and they would do it barefoot. I haven’t ever walked anywhere near that far before, and they said there might be some snow and I have never touched it before so even though I know it will be hard, I am looking forward to it.