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Siberia Experience – Fly, Walk & Jet Boat

Siberia Experience – Fly, Walk & Jet Boat

The Original NZ Wilderness Adventure!
Fly – 25min, Walk – 3hrs, Jet Boat – 30min

Experience NZ’s best half day New Zealand wilderness adventure with Southern Alps Air.
Fly, Walk, and Jet boat amongst some of New Zealand’s most spectacular, unspoilt scenery. This is the best way to spend a day exploring New Zealand’s remote alpine environment. Natural, pristine, ancient, extraordinary – this the original Siberia Experience.

Extended Siberia Experience options are also available – choose the extended Glacier Scenic Flight or the option to stay overnight at the Siberia Hut. More info on this below.

See what NZ Stuff Reporter Brook Sabin thought of the Siberia Experience on his 2020 New Zealand South Island Tour.


The Siberia Experience is Exclusive to Southern Alps Air since 1975!

The trip departs from Makarora, a scenic 45 min drive north of Wanaka. This is an amazing half day trip for all ages.

  • Fly amongst the towering mountains of the Mt Aspiring UNESCO World Heritage National Park. Discover the remote and spectacular Siberia Valley.
  • Land on a remote grassy valley strip, beside the crystal clear Siberia Stream. Surrounded by mountains and far from civilisation this is where your walk begins.
  • Walk amongst the UNESCO World Heritage scenery of of Mt Aspiring National Park through to the beautiful Wilkin Valley.
  • Jet boat on the clear, pure waters of the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers. Jet boating is a “must do” new Zealand activity and the shallow braided rivers here are one of the best places to experience the thrills!

Full Siberia Experience Trip Information

Your trip departs from Makarora, a scenic 45 min drive north of Wanaka around the shores of Lake Hawea & Wanaka. After checking in with Southern Alps Air (at our desk in the Wonderland Lodge – 5944 Haast Pass-Makarora Road) you will meet your pilot and have a trip briefing before take off.

1. Fly – 25 mins
(Extended Glacier Flight – 50 mins)

You will be flying with Buttercup – our famous yellow plane. She is perfectly suited for mountain flying and loves her job! Every passenger has a window seat to fully appreciate unobstructed views of the UNESCO World Heritage scenery of Aspiring National Park.

Meet Buttercup – Southern Alp’s Air mascot

Your scenic flight will take you in over the Aspiring National Park into the remote Siberia Valley. Get close up views of towering mountain peaks on either side of you.
See glaciers, cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes, pristine mountain tarns and the icy caps of the Southern Alps. View the peaks of the misnamed Mt Dreadful & Mt Awful. Put simply – this is a breath taking scenic flight!

Your experienced pilot will provide personal commentary during your flight. One last turn and we are on approach to land on a grassy strip in the middle of the mountains in the remote and stunning Siberia Valley.

The remote Siberia Valley – your landing strip is up ahead!

2. Walk – 2.5-3hrs

Step out of Buttercup onto the valley floor and feel the raw power of nature as you gaze skyward to the tops of the towering peaks that surround you.
Your pilot will accompany you to the stream crossing at the beginning of the track and explain about the walk and conditions on the day. Then they will wave goodbye and take off again, leaving you to enjoy the peaceful beauty that surrounds you.

Start by crossing the shallow Siberia Stream (you may wish to bring walking sandals) before walking south through native beech forest and starting to climb out of the Siberia Valley. This takes you up to the highest point of the Track. Bird song is all around you and you will feel a long way from the crowds, absorbed into a remote wilderness.

Crossing the shallow Siberia Stream

The next portion of the track zig zags down into the Wilkin Valley. From here you have the experience of walking along the grassy valley floor, following the river and surrounded by towering mountain peaks.
Finally, at the rendezvous point on the Wilkin River(clearly marked) you will pick up your Jet boat for the final portion of your trip.

Please note:

The walk from Siberia Valley to the Wilkin Valley is described as a Freedom Walk and it is unguided.
When taking part in this activity, you are responsible for your safety and wellbeing. Some parts have steep drop offs on the side so please be cautious at all times. Your pilot will have given you an oral briefing on the track and conditions and you have an opportunity to ask any last minute questions.

The Siberia Experience Track Sections

The track is 7km in length and takes 2.5-3hrs to complete.
• Section 1 is 3km to the highest point of the track
• Section 2 is a 2.5km downhill zig-zag track into the Wilkin Valley
• The last section (Section 3) is 1.5km along the river valley to the jet boat pick up point (which is clearly marked).

The Jet Boat Safari

Rendezvous at the Wilkin River for a thrilling & uniquely scenic 30 min jet boat journey. We will give you a pickup time from the jet boat company prior to departing from Makarora.

Speed down the icy braided rivers of the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers. The waters of both rivers are glacial blue and the scenery around you is spectacular. This is a very kiwi jet boat trip – far from the crowds.

Finally you will arrive back at Makarora – with memories and photos of an adventure that few will experience. This is a great way to discover the remote wilderness of New Zealand, all within a half day trip.

Thrilling 30 min jet boat ride

Book the Siberia Experience online here.
The flight is operated by us at Southern Alps Air and the jet boat is operated by Wilkin River Jets. The walk is a freedom walk on a Department of Conservation maintained track. A $21 per person Department of Conservation fee is included in your fare with us. This goes directly back to Department of Conservation for conservation and maintenance efforts within this area of the Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park.

Overnight & Extended Siberia Experience Options

Extend your Siberia Experience by choosing either to stay overnight at the Siberia Hut or by selecting our extended Glacier Scenic Flight.

  • An extended Glacier Scenic Flight option adds an additional 25 mins flying time to your scenic flight. Take in extended views of the Young Valley, Makarora Valley, Mt Dreadful, Lake Crucible, Mt Aspiring and Wonderland. See tumbling waterfalls, braided river systems and glaciers.
    You will also get to fly right alongside Mt Aspiring with closeup views of glaciers including Bonar Glacier – the longest in Mt Aspiring National Park.
    Book your extended Siberia Experience here>>
  • Extend the experience by staying overnight at the Siberia Hut. This is a serviced 20 bunk DOC hut which requires bookings between Dec & April. Outside of these times you require backcountry hut passes. Camping is also available at the hut. Please contact us if you wish to stay overnight so that we can advise you on the options available.
    From the hut you can make the popular walk to Lake Crucible which is well known for it’s mini icebergs in late Spring & early Summer – created by falling glacier ice from the mountains above. Surrounding waterfalls make this a very special place.

Siberia Experience Gallery

Siberia Experience FAQ’s

What should I bring on the Siberia Experience?

We recommend a camera, warm & waterproof outer layer, suitable hiking footwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent (can be purchased at departure point) + sport sandals or water shoes for crossing the Siberia Stream. (You can also borrow these from us at check in). Snack food, water supply and anything else for your own personal comfort during this half day adventure in the NZ outdoors.

Where does the Siberia Experience depart from?

The Siberia Experience departs from Makarora (on State Highway 6). This is a scenic 45min drive north of Wanaka through the mountains and around the shores of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
Alternatively it is 1hr 30 mins south of Haast, or 2 hours from Queenstown.
Meet us at our Southern Alps Air desk inside the Wonderland Makarora Lodge at 5944 Haast Pass-Makarora Road. (This is on the main West Coast Highway, Makarora West).
We can also provide transport from/to Wanaka if you prefer. Please call us on +64 (0)3 443 4385.

Is the Siberia Experience suitable for children?

Yes, children are welcome on the Siberia Experience with Southern Alps Air. The walk is 7km in total and takes around 2.5 – 3 hrs for an adult to complete. Please be aware that there are steep drop offs on the side of the track and children must be monitored closely. There is also a shallow stream crossing on the walk. Infants and children are welcome on the jet boats and suitable life jackets are provided.

What level of fitness do I need for the Siberia Experience?

The Siberia Experience is suitable for people with moderate fitness and above. The unguided walk portion of the experience is 7km in total with a shallow stream crossing and the track is clearly marked. There is an uphill portion (3km) but the rest is downhill and then along the scenic Wilkin Valley. We do recommend hiking footwear and as you are walking in the back country you do need to be aware of track hazards or changes in weather. The Southern Alps Air team can advise on individual circumstances. Please call us on +64 (0)3 443 4385.

Is the Siberia Experience walk guided?

No – the track is a freedom Department of Conservation track and you walk this unguided. However is well marked with orange markers. Your Southern Alps Air pilot will accompany you to the stream crossing at start of the track and provide a brief on the current track conditions.

How do I book the Siberia Experience?

The Siberia Experience is operated by Southern Alps Air and can be booked online here. It operates from October – May each year. Southern Alps Air have been operating The Siberia Experience since 1975.

What about cancellations due to weather?

When you book the Siberia Experience we ask that you phone us on the morning of your trip (2 hours before departure) for a weather check. The weather in Makarora can be very different to Wanaka. If we need to postpone due to weather on the day we will do our very best to rebook you as soon as we can. Alternatively we offer a full refund if your trip can not be rescheduled while staying in the area.

We have been visiting and traveling in New Zealand for years, and we can say that this was the most incredible experience yet! The flight was spectacular, hiking was beautiful (wading through the river added to the charm), and the jet boat driver made the ride extra exciting. A “Can Not Miss” opportunity.

~ Trip Advisor 2020

Siberia Experience – Fly, Walk & Jet Boat
4hrs
$455
$380
Add Glacier Flight
4.75hrs
$555
$480

Valid to 30 Sept 2021
• Prices are per person & includes GST
• Child Age is 3-13yrs
• Infants 0-4yrs Travel Free (1 infant per adult)
• Window Seats & Glacier Views on All Flights
• Minimum numbers apply
Frequently Asked Questions »
Siberia Experience – Fly, Walk & Jet Boat