The Wairaurahiri River – Part 1

“A Mish a Day” #220 The Wairaurahiri River – Part 1. Fiordland National Park. 27.10.2013. I strongly believe that anybody selling a tourism product has to have experienced the product! Nothing worse than hearing “I’ve heard it’s very nice” when somebody is trying to get you to fork out your hard-earned cash for their wilderness experience. Another perk of working in tourism is ‘familiarization trips’ (famils), the opportunity to experience a product for free so you can promote it to others. Nothing sells a product better than a passionate recollection of that product, and knowing everything about the experience you are selling.

When I first arrived in the booming Southland metropolis of Tuatapere to begin working on the Humpridge Track, I discovered that we (The Humpridge Track) offer a hike + boat ride package. Joyce and Johan at Wairaurahiri Jet have been navigating the swift flow of the Wairaurahiri River since 1994. Not only have they thrilled thousands with the roar of the boat’s engine as it thunders its way towards the South Coast, but they are also responsible for the ever increasing numbers of native birds in the area. This is due to their ongoing stoat trapping program, which covers a huge area of south east Fiordland. After getting into town, and finding out I could go on a ‘famil’ on the Wairaurahiri River, literally the next morning I was waiting at Lake Hauroko for the trip to begin. Our day in late October was the exact opposite of a hot summer’s day, with hail, rain and the chance for snow to low levels. To add to the wild weather above was the fact that the lake was very high due to consistent heavy rain. After introductions we set off across Lake Hauroko, and luckily I had dressed for Arctic weather. High speed + winter weather makes any exposed skin sting, and without glasses and face protection it’s eyes to the floor until the boat slows down. Joining Joyce, Johan and a couple of customers was their new stoat-hunting dog Saffie, and this was the little warrior dog’s first outing on a jet boat. We stopped in at Teal Bay Hut (DoC Hut) to record our trip down the Wairaurahiri River in the hut’s logbook, then it was time to leave Lake Hauroko, and begin the journey down New Zealand’s longest waterfall.

Lake Hauroko

Along with the thrill of the ride in their powerful jet boat, you also get lessons on New Zealand flora and fauna, as animal traps are checked while travelling down the river. The rain eased a little as we reached the coast, and it was good to get out of the weather and enjoy some lunch in the comfort of Waitutu Lodge (private). The lunch wasn’t simple sandwiches, far from it! The smells coming out of the little lodge on the coast were incredible, as Johan fired up the BBQ with an array of steaks, sausages and other tasty meat treats. After an epic feed and a little bit of a dry-out, we headed down to the beach at the mouth of the Wairaurahiri River.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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