About Us

Wanaka River Journeys


Kia ora, we're Ruth and Johnny, the owners of Wanaka River Journeys. Johnny has 10+ years experience driving jet boats and has lived in Wanaka for the past 20 years. Ruth was an ecologist in her previous life but has worked in the tourism industry on and off since 2012. 


Wanaka River Journeys has been operating since 2005 and we pride ourselves in offering real experiences to people. We incorporate conservation, māori culture and local knowledge into our trips to offer customers a unique experience. It's not a jet boat or packraft ride, it's an experience, it's a River Journey.


Our Whanau who are the River Journeys Team:

  • Johnny River Operations / Jet Boat Driver
  • Ruth Operations / Shuttle Driver
  • Brent Packraft Guide and River Operations
  • Sue Shuttle Driver and All-rounder
  • Courtney Jet Boat Driver and Packraft Guide



The Team


Senior Packraft Guide

Courtney is a world freestyle kayaking champ, we are really stoked to have her on our team


Packraft Guide

Brent knows more about the Matukituki River than any living person and has ventured up and down the river more than all of our staff combined. 



Shuttle Driver

Sue has a wealth of knowledge of the Matukituki and established Wanaka River Journeys back in 2005. She's a fabulous driver and helps out in many areas of the business so we're super lucky to have her on the team!


Packraft Support

Whiskey is our super friendly german wire-haired pointer. He loves to cuddle and to supervise packraft expeditions. You may see him with Ruth when she's on the packraft shuttle!



Ms Kea is in charge of marketing and promotions....she's a pretty cool chick


Wanaka River Journey's Environmental stance is represented in our company name, presentation of our product, branding and the passion of our staff. We wear our Qualmark Enviro Silver award with pride on our craft and in our marketing.

Ours is a Journey and it is on this Journey that our clients are introduced to the Mount Aspiring National Park and Maori beliefs about the mountains and the waterways that flow from them.

Our clients learn of all of these aspects while enjoying our totally unique wilderness experience which incorporates Mount Aspiring, hanging glaciers, cultural and environmental information, and the exhilaration of a jet boat ride and the peace of a wilderness Walk.

We are guardians of the Matukituki Valley. We see daily changes in the environment; we monitor river, bird and human activity in the valley and will take action when needed.

We work closely with the other guardians; D.O.C, the Valley’s farmers, other tourism operators and climbers. It is our expertise and depth of knowledge of the Valley’s environment that is called upon in many instances from river safety to river rescue, from fish, eel, birdlife and flood information to stoat trapping programs.

The most important part of our Journey and one we pride ourselves on is sharing our knowledge of this impressive and yet fragile environment with our visitors so they can return home with an awareness of the importance of balance between the land and its people.


Mõ te Tangata mõ te whenua

It’s about the people, it’s about the place


Qualmark is New Zealand tourism's official mark of quality which licenses professional and trustworthy New Zealand tourism businesses

Wanaka River Journeys is Qualmark endorsed and is endorsed Qualmark- Enviro Silver. Our company also complies with the New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority Industry standard for jet boating operations.

So what all this means is that our company has comprehensive policies and procedures in place that govern our daily operations including safe operating procedures and environmental policies, as well as this our staff, boats and vehicles comply to a high standard of efficiency, safety, presentation and training. 

The Koru

The Koru or unfurling fern frond is special to all New Zealanders and we chose this for our logo to represent our Journey.

The koru symbolizes the unfolding of new life, encouraging new and positive beginnings and of striving for perfection. The koru shape is often used in Maori art and is a dominant part of Maori carving and tattooing.

The shoot of the fern has a scroll shape which unfolds and becomes the Fern Leaf which is New Zealand's national symbol.