22 SEPTEMBER 2007, Page 42

Whitewater Rafting

Bone-domed, wet-suited, that New Zealand day, six of us in a dinghy diced with death. Twenty-five rapids made us hold our breath. The snowmelt river took our breath away. Eleven miles of turbulent, freezing foam, floodwaters from the glacial Southern Alps with granite canyon walls threatening thin scalps — our lives flashed by, and images of home. Paddles in hand, on rubber gunwales perched, we worked and worked, fighting against the tide, bouncing against the outcrops, three per side, avoiding cliffs, rocks, death, until we lurched beyond the final rapids, round a bend, into a quiet lagoon, and journey's end.

Norman Bissett