Speed boats & stunning landscape

By Johan Lolos

@Lebackpacker explores the Matukituki River in Mt Aspiring National Park with Wanaka River Journeys

You may already know about jet boats, but in the case you don’t, let me tell you a bit more about them: The jet boat is a kiwi invention designed to overcome the problem of propellers striking rocks in the fast-flowing and shallow rivers of New Zealand. They are like rally cars on water and can speed up to 80kmph! This is why it’s such a popular attraction in New Zealand, and a great way to explore remote areas.

My journey with Wanaka River Journey’s started in town where a shuttle picked me up at the i-SITE and dropped me 20mins later at the West Wanaka bridge. This is where we met the jet boat driver, who’s knowledge about the Matukituki Valley and Mt Aspiring National Park is very impressive. He showed us some of the sights of where Lord of the Rings was filmed, such where Frodo Baggins is standing on a hill and is stabbed in the shoulder by one of the Nazgul.
See image below

We sped up to 80kmph through the glacier fed waters of the Matukituki River towards Mount Aspiring with its glaciers, towering mountains and waterfalls. Honestly, the scenery was unbelievable, and the pristine blue water of the river added something unique to that pure and wild landscape. The water colour is the result of the presence of rock flour in the water, fine-grained particles of rock formed during glacial migration. 

After a 30min ride, we hopped out of the jet boat and took a wilderness walk through the giant beech tree forests, facing the majestic Avalanche Glacier and its massive waterfall running directly from the top of the mountain. I probably enjoyed that view more than the rest of the group because the day before, I actually flew to the top of these mountains with Aspiring Helicopters and I was looking down the valley. Having two totally different perspectives of the same scenery is always something I like a lot, and I assume every photographer does. 

After this little walk, we start our ride back to Wanaka. This time, we were not facing the wind so it was very nice and warm despite the high speed of the jet boat. As usual, our driver made sure to entertain our group by doing 360 degree spins and using sliding turns. That was a great way to start a day in Wanaka!