71. An unforgettable adventure on the Siberia Experience
From skydiving and jet-boating to hiking and biking some of the most spectacular and dramatic landscapes in the world, New Zealand is synonymous with adventure: here is No. 71 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
One of the best day trips to be had in the South Island/Te Waipounamu, the Siberia Experience seamlessly blends flying, walking and jet-boating deep in the Southern Alps wilderness. The tour begins at Makarora village, situated on the scenic highway through to the Haast Pass. It’s a 45-minute drive from Wānaka or 90 minutes from Queenstown, and passes majestic Lake Hāwea along the way. This inhospitable route through the mountain ranges was an early Māori pathway subsequently followed by European explorers on their way to the wild West Coast/Te Tai o Poutini. The remote wilderness around here is layered with fascinating stories.
The Siberia Experience, established in 1975, brings them to life in a deeply immersive outdoor adventure taking four hours. From Makarora it’s a 25-minute fixed-wing flight soaking up the sights of World Heritage-listed Mt Aspiring National Park with its snow-capped peaks and glaciers, waterfalls, hidden lakes and glorious native forest. Landing on a grassy airstrip in the remote Siberia Valley, you’ll begin a three-hour hike through an incredible landscape of tussock-covered flats bound by forested hills and towering peaks. After a gentle climb up and over into the adjacent Wilkin Valley, the adventure continues with a thrilling 30-minute jet boat trip down the pristine Wilkin River back to Makarora.