New Zealand’s “Siberia Experience”
Extremely difficult to describe the exhilarating and fun Siberia Experience but I’ll try. The “Siberia Experience” would start with a scenic 25-minute flight over the Southern Alps landing in Siberia Valley, followed by a three-hour bushwalk though valleys and native beech forest linking the Siberia Valley with Wilkin Valley where our jetboats would be waiting to take us on a thrilling 30-minute ride back to Makarora. The Siberia Experience is always weather dependent because the scenic flight takes place in a small bush plane (and I do mean small…three seater plus the pilot…max).
It was a cool, cloudy day (but the trip was a go) and we were ready to fly over and past snowy peaks to the remote Siberia Valley. Very, very nervous…especially remembering that New Zealanders love to brag and call their country the “adrenaline capital” of the world. A fast signing of liabilities and waivers (…if you die…your estate will not hold …liable….blah, blah, blah) at the Makarora Information Center and out on the air strip. One after another, our little bush planes took off and the pilots probably trained as barnstormers in their younger days. At first, I was a lot concerned that I was going to upchuck all over everything as our pilot headed straight up, flying extremely close to the mountain peaks, did some fast banks…almost everything but a complete barrel roll…and ex-Marine was looking a tad green under his tan.
I think we finally landed on a grass strip on this valley with nothing around and started a three-hour hike downhill to the river when our legs stopped shaking. What an experience!
A beautiful hike down to the river where a jet boat was waiting to take us back to Makarora. Let me see…how do I describe a jet boat… A jet boat is usually around a 700hp boat that basically is water-jet propelled. It’s only considered fun, a natural high, something to fuel up your adrenaline if the boat speeds down shallow rivers with tight canyon walls and huge rocks, does a few 360 degree turns, aims full-speed at obstacles and only veers away from them at the last minute. Dart River Safaris pioneered wilderness jetboating in New Zealand. So, so, SO much fun. Another really great experience!
So pumped up, hours later, the group was still talking about it on our short drive to Queentown.