Our last day started off with another disappointment for no skydiving. Fortunately, we had one more activity scheduled as a backup option, the Dart River Wilderness Safari & Jetboats! We were picked up from our hotel later in the morning. After a 45 minutes car ride we arrived at their offices where we then hopped on a bus through ‘Paradise’.
The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy, The Hobbit, Vertical Limit, and X-Men Origins Wolverine were all filmed here. Also, it was interesting to find out that the Coors mountain range on their beer cans were modeled after these mountains.
Another backdrop from the Wolverine Origins movie.
We then took a 30 minute guided nature walk through the Red Beech forest.
We got to taste leaves from a kawakawa tree, the new zealand pepper tree. The leaves can be made into a tea and have medicinal properties. They are known in the Maori custom to reduce toothaches and also as an insect repellent if you put it in fire. I wanted to take some home!
Finally, we ended the tour with an hour and half jet boat ride around Dart River through Mt Aspiring National Park. This was a much different ride that Shotover canyon. Although we did a few of 360s here and there, we could really enjoy the amazing views and crystal clear waters and capture them with our cameras.
After getting back to town, we joined the rest of the contiki group at Winnie’s Pizza then ended the night relaxing.
Timeline of our Day:
- 11:40-12:20 AM Pick up from hotel for Dart River Wilderness Safari & Jetboats offices
- 12:50-1:45 PM Bus ride through paradise
- 1:45-2:15 PM Beech Forest trek
- 2:30-3:55 PM Jet boat ride around dart river through Mt aspiring National Park.
- 4:15-5:00 PM Bus back to Queenstown
- 6:20-8:00 PM to Winnie’s pizza (included in contiki tour price)
Tips for the Dart River Wilderness Safari & Jetboats:
- This was probably the least advertised by contiki but was by far our favorite day trip / excursion from Queenstown.
- Bring your cameras! It’s at your own risk, but we only had a few splashes, and the views were worth it.
- Shotover Jet is thrill ride and cameras are not allowed on the boat while Dart River Jet is a good mixture of fun with plenty of photo opps.
- If you have time, do funyaks! It’s a continuation of the dart river jet boat ride and an additional few hours where you can get into the places the jet boat could not take you.