Aspiring Wilderness Experience

The best of both worlds

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Aspiring Wilderness Experience (AWE)

Experience absolute wilderness by boat and on foot.

A60W9775This full day adventure delivers the best of both worlds. Your guided journey starts with the thrills of a Dart River Wilderness Jet trip, and continues with a serene wilderness walk through the ancient beech forest of Mount Aspiring National Park.

The only way to navigate the shallow glacial waters of the Southern Alps is by the great Kiwi innovation that revolutionised high-country transport - the jet boat. Our jet boat drivers have superb skills behind the wheel and know their river intimately. Your driver will take frequent stops on this unique 35km journey to explain the geology and lore of the ancient and unspoiled lands you traverse.

Just over one-and-a-half fascinating hours later, your guide will meet you at a secret spot on the banks of the Dart River. They will then lead you on a very gentle ascent under a canopy of native beech forest where nature provides the soundtrack of birdsong.

Guided Walks NZ has exclusive off track access in this area so you're assured of a truly unique experience. The vast numbers of plant species compete for your attention, along with the orchestra of native bird life. Your guide will point out your new and inquisitive travelling companions as they stop by to look you over.

A delicious picnic lunch is taken on the shores of Lake Sylvan where you may be joined by some of NZ’s most iconic birds such as Bush Robins, Fantails and Tomtits. The lake’s brooding waters have a reddish-brown tint picked up from plants by its feeder streams on their journey down the hillsides over the 11,000 years of its existence. Lake Sylvan teems with native trout and the most attractive species of geese and ducks when in season.

Winding back from the lake, the track ambles through to the Routeburn, flowing down the very edge of the forest and on to your luxury transport. From there, it’s a short drive through rich farmland to Glenorchy, where you might like to enjoy a brief refreshing stop in the local cafe before the trip back to Queenstown.

Adventure and tranquility in one great day!

Jet boat far up the Dart River into a wilderness, before meeting your guide and walking cross country through beautiful native bush meeting native birds.

DURATION: Full day (7 to 8 hours optional)

JET BOAT TIME: approx 1.5 hours

WALKING TIME: 2 to 3 hours (optional)

WALKING DISTANCE: 6 to 7 kilometres (optional - easy to moderate)

TRACK: Unformed trails, easy to moderate walking on leaves and moss

DEPARTURES: 8.00am (Queenstown)

PICK UP: Pickup from all Queenstown accommodations.


Spectacular snow-capped mountain and lake views.
Variety of bird life, mosses, lichens and ferns, ancient native beech forest which only Guided Walks NZ is permitted to guide through.
Please see what you'll need for this walk here and if you have any more questions please see our FAQs or contact us

RESTRICTIONS: Please note, for safety reasons we are unable to accept as clients on this trip anyone who is pregnant or children under 1 metre in height (irrespective of the child's age). 

What our clients have to say

"After the scintillating jet boat ride on the Dart River, our guide Peter (who should be considered a national treasure in New Zealand) led us on a beautiful hike through an ancient Beech forest that included a picnic lunch and a visit to a cave once used by the Maori. Peter enjoys sharing his impressive knowledge of the area, tossing in bits of survival advice with a number of amusing anecdotes about his past experiences. What a great day!"  'Cabdriver', Lafayette, Colorado.

 Rates from 1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019

Half Day Walks Adult Child (8 - 14 years)
Group Guided Price*          NZ $399 NZ $285
Privately Guided (up to 4 people) NZ $2390

*Minimum numbers: Two persons or equivalent price. Prices valid until 30 September 2020.

Single travellers please contact us with your available dates.