The Fast and the Furious: Wanaka Edition

Just when we thought we’d heard of every kind of adrenalin activity – bungy jump, skydives, jet boat, white water rafting, etc, we find something else in New Zealand. Today, we are going in the monster of all off-road 4x4s and a boat faster than a Formula 1 car. There will be guns and knives involved too. Whurrtt?!

So our time in Wanaka takes us once again past Wanaka Airport and around the outside towards Oxbow The Adventure Company. Oxbow have their own private adventure wonderland with surrounding views of snowy mountains, green rolling hills, a river, lake and a view of parachuting people dropping from the sky. This place screams New Zealand adventure!

The Man Shed

We are greeted by Tim, who is driving a relaxed 4×4 buggy. This is only a means of transport between activities! This is nothing compared to what lies in that garage in front of us.

Badass… So freakin’ badass. The Oxbow garage is a classic dude’s dream. On one end of the garage is a fire spray-painted helicopter just casually sitting there. Then there’s The Beast, a.k.a a custom-built 4×4 buggy that puts all the other 4×4 buggies in this garage to shame (because, yes, there are more in here)! A fire-painted jet boat sits among it all, as well as a smaller boat we can only assume is The Jet Sprint Boat – the only one of its kind in New Zealand.

What a man shed.

The thrill menu

So what the hell are we doing today? Well, there is one space left in the four-seater Ultimate Off-Roader and one seat left in the four-seater Jet Sprint. We decide Laura’s going off-roading and Robin’s going jet sprinting. To top it all off, we’ll be knife throwing and claybird shooting. Let’s do this!

Eat our dust! Eat our dust!
Too close to the ground for comfort Too close to the ground for comfort
Robin gets ready to jet off Robin gets ready to jet off
Travelling faster than an F1 car Travelling faster than an F1 car

Ready to eat dust

First up, it’s Laura in The Ultimate Off-Roader. Overalls zipped up, helmet strapped, and, if Laura wasn’t feeling awesome enough, it’s topped off with a sexy pair of sunglasses. One of the Oxbow team, Bush, straps Laura into the front seat with an over-the-shoulder no-nonsense seat belt.

“Grab onto the bar in front of you. If the vehicle rolls over, keep your hands inside,” Bush says. Gulp! The cage frame around the top of the vehicle does give us room for rolling over… He might just be serious.

Time is driving, “Are you ready, team?” Laura and the two thrill-seeking customers in the back seat appear ready. Straight out of the gate, The Beast does a wickedly sharp turn. Then, it’s time to catch some speed.

Catching some speed

We blast up the 4×4 tracks in super quick bursts! Did Laura miss something? She thought the jet sprint boat was the fast one?! The Beast can sure pick up some speed, which Tim demonstrates on a large open area perfect for donutting. The dry dirt flicks up everywhere as we spin around. Ah, sunglasses… Makes sense now.

The dirt tracks continue to what appears to be a massive boulder in the middle of the road… Well, surely there must be a way around this? You can probably guess that we don’t.

We are degrees away from being absolutely vertical as The Beast creeps along. Laura’s face is almost scraping along the dirt.

Who ever said roads need to be horizontal?

What goes up must come down

The Beast then climbs a hill. Well, we say “hill” but it’s more like a wall. We would barely be able to hike up here.

“What goes up must come down,” Tim says as we hang over the edge of a track Laura can’t even see is there… Tim releases the break and we bob all the way down to where the bottom dramatically evens out!

Sheer vertical rock faces: we drive up them. Boulders leading up and down from a shipping container: we drive over that. Mounds in the soil act as kickers: we fly over those. There is nowhere The Beast can’t go.

Robin’s turn

Back at the Oxbow Man Shed, we don’t have long to recover (not that we want to… Bring on the next thing!) before Bush is taking us all to the lake.

Now it’s Robin’s turn. All he needs is a helmet tightly strapped on and a need for speed. Tim is taking the steering wheel once again while Bush straps everyone into the very well supported seats. Robin gets weird visions from his childhood, being strapped to a booster seat.

G force working Robin's lips G force working Robin's lips
Laura: Ninja Laura: Ninja
Popping clays out the sky Popping clays out the sky

An alarmingly small lake for a fast boat

The boat launches into the shallow lake, which to be honest, is not a very big lake… If this vehicle is meant to go 0 to 100km in only 2.5 seconds, then how the hell does it manage turning around such a small lake?

Tim slowly takes the boat around the lake perimeters, warming up the engine and/or building anticipation.

“Is everybody ready?” Tim says over the noise of the engine rumbling more and more vigorously. The thumbs have barely gone back down when the nose of the boat lifts up to touch the clouds.

Experiencing the G-force

Raw G-force takes over any other feeling. Robin is stuck to his seat hardly able to move his neck. If he does, well, it would be stuck in that position anyway.

There are two islands on either side of the lake that the jet sprint boat swerves around then slaloms between buoys. Robin doesn’t even see these coming but can feel every motion around them. Every two seconds, he is lodged into the corner of his seat, and every big turn feels like he could be launched out of his seat with no problem!

Laura looks on from the sidelines, jaws dropped.

Throwing knives

Once the ride is over, the jet sprint crew roll out of the boat struggling to stand straight. This will provide an advantage for Laura on the knife throwing…

Or not… turns out we suck at knife throwing, but maybe we won’t be so bad at shooting. (We may have had a bit of practice back at Makoura Lodge).

Shooting the clays

Tim shows us what to do, how to aim, and how to be awesome. It helps when he hands over the coolest sunglasses for us to wear yet!

Claybird launching machines are in all sorts of locations in the shooting area, sending claybirds in all directions. We work up in difficulty with inconsistent results. But hell, we have fun blasting those little clay f*ckers out of the sky.

Officially the most action-packed morning

Could that have been the most action-packed morning we’ve had in New Zealand? No wait, our lives?! It’s a resounding YES! How do we move on from this? Where do we go from here?

Well, it’s back to Wanaka in our not-so-impressive campervan for a day of work at the Wanaka Bakpaka. Tomorrow, we are doing an activity on the opposite end of the scale – some local craft beer tasting. Join us then!

Laura and Robin

The Oxbow Jet Sprint need for speed sensation machine
The Oxbow Jet Sprint need for speed sensation machine Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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