Millions of thrills on NZ's Shotover Jet
27 May 2011
They’ve been thrilling visitors for 40 years at one of New Zealand’s most picturesque locations in a world famous Kiwi invention - and now Queenstown’s Shotover jet has three million people to share the story.
The iconic jet boat company - which takes passengers on a thrilling high speed, white water ride down the dramatic Shotover River and into the canyons - has just notched up its three millionth passengers.
Four Australians on a 10-day trip to New Zealand for a wedding who’d booked a regular trip on the jet boat, found themselves elevated to VIP status and celebrating the tourism highlight in style.
Kristy Cox and her husband Nigel, from Melbourne, and Sara Anza and partner Adam Jambanis, from Perth, were joined by New Zealand Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key for a celebratory spin down the Shotover River.
They were also treated to a scenic helicopter ride and champagne at the top of nearby Coronet Peak - Queenstown’s ski resort - to round off their "memorable" day.
"It was amazing and I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much," said Kristy. "This is definitely a highlight of our trip and one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life."
Mr Key described the jet boat ride as sensational and great fun and said it was also one of the highlights of his trip to Queenstown, where he attended the TRENZ tourism trade show.
It was a "fantastic ride in a fantastic part of the world" and the Prime Minister congratulated Shotover Jet on its 40-year history.
The multi-award winning Shotover Jet has been in operation since 1970, shortly after the invention of the jet unit by Kiwi William Hamilton.
The company first used ‘Jet 53’ wooden boats that took five passengers, and in the first year carried 1,480 passengers.
Since then Shotover Jet has remained at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation in New Zealand adventure tourism - developing boats and playing a leading role in jet boating design, build and safety standards. It is currently working on its fifth generation jet boat.
Shotover Jet general manager Clark Scott said carrying the three-millionth passengers was a "significant milestone" in the company’s history.
"It truly is recognised as the world's most exciting jet boat ride and our ‘Big Red’ boats are just about as Kiwi as jandals and Buzzy Bees," Scott said.
The jet boating experience is an adrenalin-filled white water ride along the spectacular Shotover River and deep into the river’s narrow, steep walled canyons.
With speeds of up to 85kph the boat shoots past rocky outcrops and performs 360-degree spins in crystal clear water as shallow as 10cm deep.
Background: Shotover Jet
Shotover Jet is credited with making a major contribution to adventure tourism in New Zealand, as well as being pioneers of the jet boat industry.
The company has won several awards and is 100% owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators.
In 1993 Shotover Jet was awarded Business Development Quality winner at the Otago Business Awards, and Supreme winner at the New Zealand Tourism Awards.
‘Shotover Jet Mark III’ jet boats were introduced in 1995 allowing the company to operate in more variable water conditions. The same year it celebrated the one-millionth passenger milestone.
In 2001 the ‘Shotover Twins’ jet boat fleet was introduced and passenger capacity increased to 14.
Ngai Tahu Holdings became 100% owners in 2004, and Shotover Jet was named Visitor Activities and Attractions winner and Adventure Activities winner at the New Zealand Tourism Awards.
The world’s first ‘Jet Cam’ - jet boat mounted video cameras were introduced in 2007 to record the customer's experience.
Background: William Hamilton
As a small boy, William Hamilton had dreamed of a boat that would carry him up New Zealand’s swift flowing rivers.
His dream became reality with the 1954 development of a revolutionary new style of boating - the world’s first propellorless boat. Since then, the Hamilton Jet has been the means to explore and access waterways all over the world.
Sir William Hamilton went on to invent the hay lift, an advanced air compressor, a machine to smooth ice on skating ponds, and the water sprinkler amongst other things.
Great Kiwi inventions
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