If you’re looking for a jet boat tour that is more than just a 20min adrenaline rush, then you might want to consider the Dart River journey to Paradise. Yes, there is such a place in the South Island called “Paradise” And it’s only a 50 minute drive from Queenstown to one of the most beautiful spots in New Zealand, Glenorchy.
Glenorchy is where the first part of the 3-part Dart River Safari tour begins. You have to love this tour for it’s sheer variety. First there’s a one-hour bus ride through Lord of the Rings country. With a little imagination, you can imagine coming across ‘Aragorn’ or any one of the main characters in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. It’s not hard to do because the scenery is so true to the films.
You’ll have the typical shock and awe reaction when you see this beautiful LOTR scenery. It’s really can be quite overpowering in parts. Once you see it, you’ll totally get why film crews from all around the world come to this area to make award-winning films.
The bus then has a brief stop at the Arcadia Homestead. Now there’s a sad story connected to this house. The homestead was actually built by a romantic young man from England who left his Fiancee in the care of his father back in England. Are your alarm bells ringing yet?. The young man fell head over heels for the beauty of the area. When the Arcadia Homestead had been completed, he sent a letter to his father asking that his Fiancee join him in New Zealand. The father replied by return mail saying that he had married the son’s Fiancee. This poor young chap was left with the realisation that his lover had effectively become his stepmother. Oh dear.
If you’re looking for a tour with a bit of exercise thrown in, then make sure you book this one. On the second part of the Dart River Safari Tour, everyone gets to take a short bush walk to the Dart River Safari jet boat. Now a word of caution folks. On some outdoor tours in New Zealand, there are NO toilets provided along the way. Of course, there’s always the bush where you can discreetly disappear behind a bush. Most people are ok with this but if you have a peanut-sized bladder, it pays to ask about this beforehand. The bush walk is pretty easy and I guarantee you’ll get plenty of entertainment from the guides – they can sure tell a good story.
Before stepping onto the boat, each person is given a fleecy-lined waterproof coat with zips and velcro for warmth. It’s a great jet boat ride. But initially, the gravel from the shallow water has to be ejected before full acceleration is achieved. So everyone is instructed to lean forward in a half bow – quite an amusing piece of action requiring group participation. It does help to break the ice, so to speak.
After the Hamilton Jet engine ejects the stones, the boat journey begins and it is quite an adrenaline rush. The boat travels up dart river with occasional stops strategic places so that the driver can explain a little about the area. What a neat invention heated rails are – this helps to keep your hands toasty warm.
These are are some of the up front and personal views from the boat:
This tour is further enhanced by perfect weather and most of the time it turns on the charm. We love this tour and consider it great value for money. It provides a variety of experiences. And there are some fantastic photograph opportunities. After disembarking at the Glenorchy Wharf, the bus is there waiting to drive everyone back the depot – a mere 5 minutes away. Don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get to see ‘Aragorn’ – I hear he’s a very busy man. But then again, you can always tell your friends back home that you’ve been to ‘Paradise’!