Jetboating The Wairaurahiri River

The idea of jetboating sends an immediate rush of adrenaline through me. I’ve never been a particularly adventurous person. The idea of bungy jumping or bridge swinging fills me with a sickening sense of vertigo. I don’t hanker to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane, or fly though the air attached to a few thin cords. But jetboating? Now there’s a thrill I can enjoy.

I found the Wairaurahiri River jet boat service while surfing the net prior to a US friend’s arrival in New Zealand. Doing a little checking I discover its well known in western Southland. Family members advised they often took, or sent visitors on this exact adventure. Perhaps it might not seem as thrilling as for instance the Shotover Jet. But Wairaurahiri’s trip of approx 6 hour duration in comparison with 25 minutes on the Shotover was enough to sway me.

After an early start and a slow, frustrating drive along some gravel roads we were still keen as mustard. A couple of hours later, smothered with insect repellent, we arrived at Lake Hauroko (meaning “sounding wind”) NZ’s deepest lake.

The Wairaurahiri river drains from Lake Hauroko into Foveaux Strait, 20 km to the south. There is a 157m (515ft) drop from the lake to the river’s mouth.


Our driver and guide, Johann, offers us warm, woolly hats and away we go. We stopped occasionally across the lake to take in areas of interest. We checked stoat traps and learned of the efforts to eradicate pests from the bush along the river.


Dinner consisted of venison steaks and salad at the Waitutu Lodge (at the river mouth). We wandered along the southern coastline where no roads exist. But best of all, we spent hours in a jetboat maneuvering our way through often grade 3 rapids up and down the Wairaurahiri River. It was a trip I didn’t want to end. What a thrilling day. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *