Today we’re gonna be jet boating on a grade 3 rapid river.
This morning we are leaving Tuatapere pretty early cos we are heading toward Lake Hauroko. Where we’re gonna be meeting the team from Wairaurahiri Wilderness Jet for an epic jet boat tour in Fiordland National Park. After a bit of a setback due to the storm last night, we are back on the road and arrive at lake really early. No one else is there. It’s just us in front of the absolutely marvelous view.
A tradition to put flowers in the water for safe travels. Is it just in Lake Hauroko. I don’t know. Yes. For our tour today we are joined by a bunch of really fun locals that are really keen to discover more of their own backyard. So after a quick safety briefing we are already on Lake Hauroko blasting our way through the landscape.
We are joining Waiaurahiri Wilderness Jet which is run by Roffy who has been jet boating on these rivers and lakes for around 20 years and he boasts a 100% safety record which we don’t actually realise how important that is until we get to the rougher sections of the river later. But he has custom built this jet boat especially for the waters we’re about to tackle today.
Lake Hauroko is actually the deepest lake in New Zealand at 482m and if you remember the other day we at Lake Manapouri which is the second deepest lake so finally we are seeing the deepest today and then the lake merges onto the absolutely stunning waiaurahiri river which has to be one of the most isolated rivers we’ve ever been on. It’s right in the middle of the Fiordland National Park which is a super remote location it’s absolutely stunning.
Believe it or not this river is actually a grade 3 river which means this river could be attached by a whit water rafting boat. It’s quite crazy how much we are bouncing onto the waves as we going through the beautiful Fiordland forest.
And even on a quieter part Roffy makes sure we still have a blast by doing a lot of those 360 spins that jet boats are super famous for.
The impressive forest surrounding us is the oldest podocarp forest in New Zealand at over 1 million years old and it is inhabited by a wealth of native bird species as well as heaps of dears.
Because there is no native mammals in New Zealand dears were actually introduced by the English settlers when they came to New Zealand and are now considered as pests as they are endangering the local eco system. For this reasons, Waiaurahiri Wilderness Jet actually running hunting tours so tourists can come hunt a dear pack up the meat and save New Zealand’s wilderness. It’s pretty awesome.
One of the other special things about the Waiaurahiri River is that it drops 200m between Lake Hauroko and the ocean so it’s often described as New Zealand’s longest waterfall. And that’s exactly why this jet boat excursion takes about 5 to 6 hours to complete. We go from Lake Hauroko all the way down this river about 27km to the ocean and there we backtrack a couple of kilometres back to our lunch stop for today which is in the super secluded Waitutu Lodge where we’re having some homemade food prepared for us.
Best place in New Zealand to do a U turn.
After checking out where the river meet the Foveaux Strait which is the body of water right in the southern part of New Zealand, we backtrack back up the river a little bit to our lunch stop for today where everyone is super hungry.
Our lunch stop today is at the Waitutu Lodge it is probably one of the most remote lodge in the entire country. The only way to get there is to hike, to take a jet boat or take a helicopter. There is no road leading into here. It’s a true hidden gem.
As soon as we arrive Roffy is already heating the barbecue. He has heaps of home kill that he is preparing for the entire group he’s not wasting any time in feeding us and everybody is super thankful. He’s cooking absolutely amazing food there is all types of meat there that he killed all himself plus there is heaps of salad, dip, it’s a true kiwi feast.
The whole crew are stuffing themselves on venison we have the famous Tuatapere sausages from the sausage capital of New Zealand right here in Southland, krasky sausages, garlic prawn kebab, so much more with all the fixings this is a really true Kiwi barbecue.
And now it’s time for us to head back onto the Waiaurahiri Wilderness Jet and hit the river once again to make our way upstream and the way upstream is a lot bumpier than going downstream. We are now going against the rapids which is just absolutely insane the whole way through.
Amongst all the near-misses and thrill ride that we are having on the jet boat Roffy is also taking the time to tell us all about the environment surrounding us. He is really a bible of the Fiordland National Park. he almost knows stories about every single one of the trees and the little nooks and cracks that we’re passing. He even gave names to a lot of different rapids. There is spark plug, black hole, vulcans and plenty more. He also knows a lot about the fauna and flora surrounding us and takes the time to stop and show us a lot of the very peculiar stuff that the forest has to hide including this plant that apparently smells liek something.
Smell like shoot? Stinkwood. What’s it smell like? Shoot.
You guys have probably noticed that we’ve done a lot of jet boat tours in New Zealand and in fact we do have a lot of extra jet boat tours coming up during our 365 Days: 365 Activities and this is because jet boats have basically been invented here in New Zealand. They all feature a Hamilton jet engine which was made right here in the country and it’s one of New Zealand’s biggest prides.
This particular jet boat ride with Waiaurahiri Wilderness Jet is truly unique to us because this is more of a full day jet boat excursion rather than just a taster for what jet boating is. This really has all the thrills and all the 360 spins even rapids and stuff that really show you what jet boating is all about and why it was invented for to get over all these shallow rivers in the South Island.
But as soon as we arrive back on shore it looks like our fellow tour-goers aren’t going anywhere.
So Roffy, do you have jump leads that we could perhaps use over here. Excellent. Luckily, Roffy always comes prepared and that’s a quick fix. this wraps up our time in Fiordland National Park and tomorrow we are hitting the town of Invercargill.
Everybody in the club getting tipsy.