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But it all turned out fine on Saturday for 18 essential workers treated to a trial trip by a brave new start-up company launching itself on to the tourist market.
No-one got wet, and there were wood fires and hot drinks at the end.
Fresh Adventures director and guide Bob McLachlan said the company decided to take "a bit of a gamble" with the business.
It was a "calculated gamble", in the hope "it will roll on into the future if we do open up the borders".
Fellow director Paul Nicholson said it was intended to provide New Zealanders with the chance to explore "their own backyard".
The company will operate on rivers not renowned for their rapids, such as the Ahuriri, the Matukituki and the Pyke.
"Rafting’s often associated with big water and thrills and spills, but it’s the journey — being able to see our environment from a different perspective," Mr Nicholson said.
"We both believe the future is more about enjoying the environment."
They planned to offer the Hawea River trip to all-comers aged 3 and over.