Written by Raegan Tipping – Guest Blogger
Raegan tells us about her experience on our Glacier Jet.
Wanaka is home to stunning lakes and striking mountain ranges. Crystal clear rivers, glistening glaciers and magical waterfalls. It is textbook beautiful. A great way to see all of this magic in one go, is on a Glacier Jet trip with Ultimate Wanaka.
Departing from outside the Lake Wanaka i-SITE, we are driven twenty minutes around the lake to the riverside base of Wanaka River Journeys. Our chariot (jet boat) awaits! We zoom up the Matukituki River at speeds that feel much faster than 80km/per hour. Below us the water is so clear, pebbles glittering as the sun hits the water. Above, the mountains envelope us as we speed up the valley, sending sheep running as water sprays out behind us. It is easy to picture yourself as an elf, or a hobbit (depending on your foot size!), in one of the Lord of the Rings movies as much of the filming was done in this area. It is breathtaking in its beauty.
The Matukituki is a braided river, glacier fed by the surrounding mountains. As we speed up the valley it is hard not to feel as small as an ant surrounded by these majestic giants. We take a right turn, veering off on a smaller fork of the river and Mount Aspiring takes center stage. It is a magical sight. Our driver Brent points out the glacier where we’ll soon be standing and cheers of delight echo out across the wilderness. Thirty minutes and a few more thrilling spins later, we pull up on the banks of a lush green forest.
Again we find ourselves searching the horizon line –this is Orc country. A beautiful walk through the moss covered forest brings us out to a green grass clearing. Straight ahead is a photo opportunity not to be missed; a hanging glacier sits precariously on the side of a mountain. The cracks and crevices visible even at a distance. Waterfalls stream out from underneath it. A few snaps and poses later we hear a rotor getting closer. This is our helicopter pick up point.
Even if you’ve been in a helicopter before this is truly magnificent experience. Our pilot Tim flies us so amazingly close to the mountain faces, we could be floating in a bubble. Within minutes we are touching down on the Isobel Glacier. We’ve been transported from a warm summers day to a winter paradise in mere minutes and it is absolutely magical. 360 degree views reveal snow capped mountain ranges, the Tasman Sea, Mount Aspiring and blue sky as far as the eye can see. We jump for joy and throw snowballs, the inner child visible in all of us. Not wanting to leave but too cold to stay, it’s time to “get to the chopper”. A stunningly close fly by of the Rob Roy Glacier and we’re heading back down the valley, the river branching out below us. With amazing precision Tim zooms us into a big banked turn, setting the chopper down right next to Brent and our waiting jet boat. We thank Tim and wave him off, watching in awe as the helicopter quickly disappears into the distance. But the fun’s not over yet!
We head back into the forest where Brent leads us to a secluded waterfall, sharing his knowledge of the history that has shaped this magical landscape. You can see on everyone’s faces that nobody wants this trip to end. But end it must and what better way to go than jumping back in the jet boat and speeding off down the river.
If you like speed, adventure and stunning landscapes, this is a MUST DO trip for you! Just make sure you have lots of space on your camera.
More about Author Raegan Tipping