Enter the untouched wilderness of New Zealands South West World Heritage Area.
It is a vast pristine nature-lovers paradise, filled with the grandeur and spectacle of Mt Cook, the Southern Alps and the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
The grinding glacial Rivers of Ice come within 30 kms of the Tasman Sea. Full and half day guided walks, heli-hiking and ice climbing are available. The collapsing terminal face of the glaciers are an easy walk from the car parks.
Wild rivers course down the flanks of 3,000 metre peaks in South Westland, crashing through mighty rimu forests to spill out onto a storm-lashed coastline. Gentle moraine lakes like Matheson, Paringa and Moeraki as well as the Okarito Lagoon (feeding grounds of the White Heron) are ideal for a silent eco-experience in a hired kayak.
The Landsborough River is an outstanding top ten whitewater experience. Rafting operators based in Queenstown, Murchison and Peel Forest (Canterbury) helicopter clients into the headwaters for an exhilarating 1 to 3 day journey through thundering Grade 3 – 5 rapids that simply take your breath away. The Landsborough runs southwards under 2,600 metre peaks on the Main Divide to its confluence with the broad shingle bed of the Haast River. The boulder bed of the upper gorge can create holes, standing waves and pressure waves that make for exciting rafting, and names like Hunts Hole, The Squeeze, Hellfire Rapid and Surprise Corner conjure up images of a very memorable journey.
The Perth River and the Whataroa River are also used by the above operators for full day heli-rafting trips into the Grade 3 – 5 headwaters. The mountain scenery is absolutely mind blowing and the boulder rapids, drops, chutes and massive waves are positively awesome.
The Haast River offers some light relief for the compulsive adventure seeker, with riverboat safaris over a 30 km section of this scenic river valley. A unique Sea to Mountain backcountry jet boat safari operates on the spectacular Waiatoto River.
The World Heritage Area of South Westland offers all the extreme river action you could ever want.
This is awe-inspiring on-the-edge stuff – big mountains and furious rivers with no prisoners taken.