When I was in Queenstown recently I decided to do the jet boat trip up the Dart River and see the ethereal wilderness of this beautiful part of the country. I did it years ago and remembered it vividly. In the depths of winter it was seriously freezing, but the good thing was the hand-rail you hang on to in the jet boat was heated! I was hoping this small, but luxurious extra was still in the jet boat.
The Dart River is at the northern tip of the Lake Wakatipu. The water comes from the Dart Glacier in the Southern Alps. It flows for over 60 kilometres through rugged forested country in the Mount Aspiring National Park before making its way into Lake Wakatipu.
It’s no surprise many movies including Lord of the Rings film trilogy have been filmed in the area. With the mystical clouds hanging around the mountains it give a feeling of ‘not being in this world’. Vertical Limit, The Chronicles of Narnia and X-Men Origins were also filmed in the area.
We started our adventure from Glenorchy, the town at the northern end of the lake in a mini bus. We drove up the side of the river stopping to explore the beech forest before boarding the jet boat.
Our skipper Craig was ready to take us back down the river to Glenorchy. He had the expertise of a formula one driver. From the Mount Aspiring National Park and the southern reaches of the Main Divide we skimmed over the surface of the winding braided river system. On the way we saw concealed valleys and spectacular waterfalls. The scenery was surreal with the snow-capped mountains including Mount Cosmo, Nox and Chaos bearing down on us through the thick, heavy clouds.
It’s a very special part of the world.