The southern Fiordland region with Lake Hauruko, the Hump Ridge and the Waitutu Forest, is one of our personal top 10 New Zealand experiences. This pristine undiscovered area is off the main tourism track. Today we’re exploring deep in the heart of Fiordland National Park. The Wairaurahiri Jet adventure in Fiordland National Park really is the trip of a lifetime!
We left Te Anau early in the morning and drove 1.5 hours to reach the Lake Hauroko car-park at 9.45am. We were greeted by Wairaurahiri Jet owner, Johan, who would be taking us on a mini expedition. The Wairaurahiri Jet adventure in Fiordland National offers a range of tours. These can be combined with the Hump Ridge track and helicopter rides.
The Wairaurahiri Jet adventure in Fiordland National Park began with a leisurely 10km ride on a twin-engine powered jet boat across Lake Hauroko. It was a serene and calm with crisp-clear skies. Our party of 7 travellers was the ideal number for a very personal experience. Johan stoped in the middle of the lake to explain the local history. There is a Maori Princess buried on an island within Lake Hauroko.
There are few boats in this huge area but we still had to sign into the DOC log book at Teal Bay. We then headed along the Wairaurahiri River to meet the ocean about 30 kilometres away. The action began to ramp up after the first few bends, as the river narrowed and the water became shallower. We could almost touch the huge beech trees with our hands.
For Johan and his wife Joyce, conservation is a passion. After 30 minutes or so Johan stopped the boat to show us the traps they’ve set to catch rats, stoats and weasels. These pests are ruthless predators of our endemic bird life.
The bush here is lush and green. We heard and saw many birds and believe me, that’s a good sign! Johan introduces us to the various trees found in the area as well as the local Robin population, who love dropping in to say “gidday”.
After about 2.5 hours we reach the ocean. What a sight!
The Waitutu Forest is build up over the millions of year into 13 terraces with different vegetation and geology. Scientists can study the past millions of year by looking at these terraces and interpreting major events, such as volcanic eruptions, comets flying into the earth. All this fresh air does tend to make you very hungry! Johan instructed to go for a 30 minute walk. On our return, he was wearing a chef’s apron!
No stale old white buns here folks. We eat like kings! Venison steaks, salads, freshly baked bread and vegetables, all wonderfully presented. I highly recommend this ‘restaurant’!
After lunch we walked on the Waitutu Track for 15 minutes before crossing over the local “swing bridge”. Some of us were a bit dubious, but those bridges are very safe and essential in a wilderness area where there is often no other way to cross a river.
Johan retured with the jetboat, returning to his role as a driver-guide. We head back up the Wairaurahiri River with stops on the way. The last few minutes were spent gliding over the water of the river. The Wairaurahiri Jet adventure in Fiordland National Park has been a standout experience. It’s been one of the best tours we’ve ever taken in our lives.