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Last May I was on holiday in Queenstown for two days. It was during this trip that I discovered there really is a difference between jet boat trips. I say this because I have been on many jet boats and they are fast, slide sideways and spin around a bit. Generally accompanied by splashing and allow you to get up rivers much faster than you can walk.
But for all my time spent in Queenstown I have never been on the Shotover Jet . In many ways because I was of the opinion that having been on another I have been on them all. Boy was I wrong! So when my friend Tāne twisted my arm to go I finally said yes more in order to keep him happy than for myself. I’m glad I did.
Ok, so to put this in perspective Shotover Jet boats are red, and I like red. They are the only company allowed to operate in the canyons just ten minutes out of Queenstown so if you want to trip through these tall gorges there is only one way to go. But otherwise aren’t they still a jet boat?
Five minutes into the trip and you find out how different they are. To borrow a phrase I recently saw used. When comparing a Shotover Jet boat to any other can be like comparing an acrobatic Pitts to a commercial airliner. There is no comparison.
Is it a rollercoaster?, yes its similar. Drift racing?, that’s certainly how the boats skim across the water with little to spare between them and the rock walls. And spin, most definitely and these boats go well beyond the 360 degrees that’s held up as the pinnacle of the industry!
I sat, firmly gripping the rail as we did first a 360 – lots of audible comments from the passengers. And then again and ended up going back the way we had come? Hold on, that was a 540 degree spin in my math’s class. In various forms our driver Nick kicked us around until we had lost track of time. As we pulled into the jetty the little girl sitting beside me was already working on her mother to go again.
The drivers love their job, in and out with a very powerful boat every 30 minutes or so all day, you’d have to. But who cares about them! I’ve discovered that there is a difference between jet boats and its amazing. My advice – when in Queenstown do the best, forget the rest.
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