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“Excellent in all respects”

Waiatoto River Safari
Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Haast
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Waiatoto River Safari. Only NZ jet boat tour from the ocean to the mountains 2.25 hours of extraordinary nature and exceptional beauty only seen on this trip. Experience the history of Gondwana land, smell the rainforest as you walk softly through the dripping ferns with the sparkling clear light shimmering, with the snowy peaks as your backdrop. Your experienced guide will lead you through the ancient river, still untouched as it was thousands years ago when the Maori first roamed the land, the great Moa bird and Haast eagle still ruled the ancient forests. You will experience the magical, breathtaking beauty of the Te Wahipounamu, the maori name for the South West New Zealand World Heritage area and take home memories that will have you yearning to return once more.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed 28 July 2016

If you are wanting to experience stunning scenery and wonderful hospitality you really should do this trip. Wayne and Ruth are excellent ambassadors for their home turf. The journey up river is not based around spins and near misses with rocks and improvised thrills, they don't need to try and create a false "wow" because it is already there all around you. We went in winter and because we were adequately dressed the cold was fine, besides in winter the air is so much clearer making the views even better.
Wayne and Ruth are very informative about their area, it is a family business and you will feel like a friend not a Client. We stopped on a riverbank for some home made scones and a cup of tea, the trip felt totally unhurried.
At one moment we were up river surrounded by magnificent peaks, then at the end we we cruised the estuary at the river mouth and watched Ruth pull up the flounder nets containing their dinner for the night.

This is a real deal trip where mother nature puts on the show, highly recommended by me.

Date of experience: July 2016
Thank KiwiChChNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ruth-Wayne, Owner at Waiatoto River Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 30 July 2016

What an excellent review. A big thanks to you for taking precious time out of your day to give such an honest review. Yes I agree, winter sure does have its own charms and I love experimenting with the types of scones I bake for our winter tours. Nothing like a hot cuppa on a cold day. We understand it is a decision not taken lightly for people to come all the way to South Westland, to take our tour, so we wish them to have the most memorable experience possible. Best regards, Ruth and Wayne.

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Write a ReviewReviews (186)
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"jet boat"
in 55 reviews
"new zealand"
in 21 reviews
"river safari"
in 9 reviews
"tasman sea"
in 10 reviews
"kiwi sanctuary"
in 4 reviews
"beautiful country"
in 4 reviews
"south island"
in 7 reviews
"great commentary"
in 4 reviews
"great trip"
in 5 reviews
"money well spent"
in 2 reviews
"mother nature"
in 2 reviews
"degree spins"
in 2 reviews
"remote area"
in 2 reviews
"world heritage area"
in 3 reviews
"insect repellent"
in 3 reviews
"short walk"
in 3 reviews
"wayne"
in 84 reviews
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62 - 66 of 186 reviews

Reviewed 11 July 2016

An outstanding trip with our three teenage children. Our guide Wayne was the perfect blend of accomplished boat driver, local historian and naturalist.
We have been on jet boat trips on rivers throughout New Zealand and we all agreed this was the best;- great scenery, informative, wonderful guide/driver.
This ranks as a "must do" in New Zealand.

Date of experience: July 2016
Thank Tel458
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ruth-Wayne, Owner at Waiatoto River Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 14 July 2016

Tel458, we were thrilled to hear this from you since you have been on so many other rivers. We feel it is a very special river as well. I was very pleased to hear that Wayne has made arrangements, for a later date to show you and your family more of our stunning scenery. Kind regards, Ruth and Wayne.

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Reviewed 2 May 2016 via mobile

Ruth & Wayne are so passionate about their backyard and have a pretty cool way to show it off. Stunning scenery up the Waiototo Valley & River. Great for a family trip or to get a feel of what it might be like in Jurassic park. Thanks so much!

Date of experience: May 2016
Thank JaimeeM962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ruth-Wayne, Owner at Waiatoto River Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 4 May 2016

Jaimee M, thank you for taking the time out to submit your review. We are pleased you liked it and also that you thought it would be great for a family outing. We do get quite a few families and it is nice to have a tour that keeps everyone of all ages entertained. Kind regards, Ruth & Wayne.

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Reviewed 25 April 2016 via mobile

Thank you so much Wayne for an excellent trip. Beautiful scenery and very informative, enjoyed hearing more about the area. We all loved it!!! A one of a kind jet boat experience. Highly recommended.

Date of experience: April 2016
1  Thank AMB896
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ruth-Wayne, Owner at Waiatoto River Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 28 April 2016

Thanks AMB896, Great to hear you enjoyed the tour so much. Wayne is certainly very skilled and full of excellent information on the stunning area. Kind regards, R&W.

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Reviewed 11 April 2016

Not a thrill seeker's type of ride, but a wonderful trip up a wild river into the mountains with an easy walk in the rain forest, then down to the ocean waves, then up a quiet creek. It was exciting going through some of the rapids but it never felt dangerous.
The scenery is just breathtaking and the boat takes you into places that would otherwise take days to walk into.
Our guide (Wayne) was very knowledgeable about the area and stopped frequently to explain things.
Take lots of warm clothing and a waterproof layer - it rains lots over this side of the country. I was sitting up the back of the boat and found the engine noise a bit loud after a while, so you may want to take ear plugs if you have sensitive ears, but it wasn't extreme. I just put my fingers in my ears for part of the trip :-)

Date of experience: April 2016
2  Thank Brian D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ruth-Wayne, Owner at Waiatoto River Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 16 April 2016

Brain D, thank you for your review. We appreciate you taking time out of your day to tell others what you thought of our tour. I am thrilled you enjoyed it so much even though it was raining. I have had plenty of return clientele who say it is just as spectacular in rain as it is in sun, only different. There is the general thought that it rains a lot here, however it is actually a lovely temperate climate with lots of clear sunshine as well. The upside of the rain are the waterfalls and rain forest.
Even on sunny days, I suggest covering up and taking spare clothing as you are traveling into the Southern Alps and it can drop temperature or weather can change in the mountains. That said we always offer the iconic kiwi Swanndri jacket which is more like a big rug for those who would like extra warmth.
With the boat's engine installed at the back it can be noticed of course, so good idea to bring ear plugs for those with sensitive ears, otherwise people are always welcome to sit closer to the front of the boat.
Safe travels and we hope to see you over to the stunning West Coast again someday. Kind regards, Ruth and Wayne.

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