There was a huge dump of early snow the night before we arrived in Queenstown. Snow lay right down to the road along Lake Wakatipu and even across the road (having been cleared with snow ploughs making one metre high drifts on the side of the road in places eg on the road down from Te Anau to Tuatapere – see photo below).
It was fortuitous for us that this occurred (though we were trepidatious unnecessarily about the temp) as it spilled enough water into the river (which had been too low) to allow us a thrilling jet-boat ride down the Wairaurahiri River from Lake Hauroko to the sea. Put THAT one on YOUR ‘bucket lists’ too! It is a wild and magnificent river through awe inspiring forest with many Grade 3 drops which will get your heart going.
Nestled near where the river meets the sea is the wonderful Waitutu Lodge, owned by a collective of Maori descended folk and offered for $35 per night per person – hot showers, heating, clothes drying, cooking facilities, lovely walks, fishing in the sea/river, wild pig & deer stalking in the adjacent forest…the caretaker, Pete Baldwin bagged a magnificent nine (eighteen) point red stag while we were there. You only need to bring your own food, booze, gun, rods, clothes and sleeping bags.
The Lodge gives access to the fabulous South Coast Track in both directions, the Hump Ridge track (http://www.humpridgetrack.co.nz/ & http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/fiordland/places/fiordland-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/hump-ridge-track/), the Slaughter Burn – Lake Poteriteri -Teal Bay Route, the Route to Big River and Cromarty, many rough coastal walks eg to the Crombie Stream and (the) Long Point (hut), Westies Hut etc. http://www.waitutu.co.nz/ email: waitutu[email protected]