Friday, May 6, 2011

Dart River Wilderness Safari

As mentioned in the earlier posting I have been on a Wilderness Safari experience on the Dart River in the Mt Aspiring National Park in southern New Zealand. Our day began when we were picked up outside our holiday apartment in this coach and we then set off on a ride of about an hour to Glenorchy. Above, we have stopped for a glimpse up the valley where we will be going. For right now, the water we overlook is Lake Wakatipu.

Once we got to Glenorchy, a small town of only about 200 people, most of whom work in the tourist and farming industry, we needed to change from the coach to this four wheel drive version. We set off up the valley admiring the spectacular scenery and soon were off sealed road and onto the gravel version.

Now we have arrived at the end of the road which is in the Mount Aspiring National Park. We needed to take a walk through the treed area towards the river to reach our boat. As you will see in later photos, the area is very stony. As a result the water drains away from the ground very quickly and walking on this ground felt very spongy. The trees take a very long time to decay when they fall as the air and ground are very dry.

Once we got to the river this is what we saw.

And here is our jetboat pulling into position to pick us up. Before getting on board we all had to don our provided water proof jackets and life vests.

My traveling companions on this adventure were my two sisters; it was a brisk and chilly ride on the jetboat.

Alas, everyone cannot sit in the front seats but we were seated in the middle row, right behind Brad, our driver. Right now he is wearing his cap but it blew off at least twice on the journey; obviously this has happened before as it was attached to his life vest by a cord so he did not lose it.

Here we are passing by Paradise. You can see how the river is full of smooth river stone.

This was one of the very few large obstacles that had to be negotiated. The jetboats move along very fast and taking photos is quite a challenge. The other boat that was traveling with us had just shot around the other side of this rock but I was not quick enough pressing the camera shutter.

Here is our companion boat. You can get an idea from this shot of how shallow the water is making jetboats ideally suited for this.

The river bed is not always full of water and the depths and locations of the higher stone areas can change after a lot of water has rushed down the riverbed. We thought our driver was doing a masterful job of negotiating the water and we thought he must have been very experienced on the Dart River. Closer to the end of our trip we found out he had been on the boat for only six months.

Yes, my finger was on the camera shutter as often as it could be. The scenery is just stunning.

Once we arrived back at Glenorchy we need to wait for the coach to take us back to Queenstown. Here I was in back of the building that houses the Dart River Jet Safari office. The rack holds the waterproof boots that are provided to the more adventurous tourists who do the Funyak Safari (a funyak is an inflatable kayak). But I was more intrigued by the house behind the hedge. Those homeowners wanted privacy as their property was ringed by a high fence. But take a look at the roof of the house - yes, that is grass!

And so ended our Dart River trip. It was a great experience. As someone who does not ride roller coasters or ferris wheels I was a little apprehensive about the jet boat portion of the trip but it turned out to be an exhilarating ride that I am glad I had.

Remember, if you want to get a better look at a photo simply left click on it and it will bring a larger version to your screen.


  1. And here I thought Kerry had seen and done it all on her recent trip. It must have been hard to photograph, just because you were moving and the scenery would be constantly changing. Glorious!

  2. I can't believe you posted that photo of me - vengence awaits!


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