Haast River Safari, South Island, New Zealand: Jetboat hijinks in a World Heritage Site; Elspeth Callender; Traveler


New Zealand – Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand

A wild river ride leaves even the most hesitant passengers calling for more.

“As the old man would say, we’re off like a dog shot in the arse,” says Lindsay Kain in classic West-Coast-South-Island-New-Zealand-clipped-drawl. He hits the throttle and the jet boat glides upstream with the negligible judderings of a powerful animal running full pelt. This is Haast River Safari; a backcountry journey into the heart of Westland and the soul of its “Coasters”.

The town of Haast and its river and pass have, like many places in New Zealand, been most recently named after a European man – in this case German geologist Julius von Haast. The 100-kilometre river runs east to west through Te Tai-poutini, or the West Coast region, and drains into the Tasman Sea.

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