Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand is very much a Kiwi pastime. In fact, it was a New Zealander that invented the Jet Engine. Local Christchurch man, Sir William Hamilton knew that South Island rivers weren’t suitable for propeller boats. The water in these rivers is actually only an inch or two deep in places. So the Jet Engine was born!
Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand – Advantages of a Jet Boat
Jet boats are highly maneuverable. Its sure hard to beat the thrill of reversing at top speed, then stopping within a boat length. This manoeuvre is known as a “crash stop”. The well known Hamilton turn or “jet spin” is a high-speed action. First you cut the engine throttle. Then you steer sharply, before opening the throttle again. The result is that the boat spins quickly around, spraying a huge amount of water. There’s no time to catch your breath here folks!
Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand – How to choose
For visitors travelling New Zealand, there are quite a few Jet boating options. However, bear in mind there are 2 key differences.
a) The first option is the one I like to refer to as the ‘fast and furious’. The jet boat speeds through narrow gorges and delivers a total ‘adrenaline rush’
b) the second option is the ‘classic river journey’. Jet boating on wide river valleys surrounded by stunning native landscape such as mountain, rain forest or grassland. This option is found mainly in the South Island.
‘Fast and Furious’ Jet boating options New Zealand
Hukafalls Jet Boating Taupo, Central North Island – Hukafalls Jet Boating operates in the Taupo area of the Central North Island. Its actually a mere ten minutes north of Taupo and 45 minutes South of Rotorua. Now this option an action paced ride. I guess at 80 km per hour, pure exhilaration is its pretty much guaranteed – especially with a jaw-dropping 360 degree spin! And at the same time, you’ll get fantastic views of the Huka Falls.
Shotover Jet Queenstown – Shotover Jet is the only Jetboat company operating in the Shotover River canyon. For pure adrenaline , this iconic Queenstown attraction is the ultimate jet boat experience. Powerful jet boats are dwarfed by the towering Shotover Canyon walls. Believe me, there is great skill needed to negotiate through rocky outcrops and boulders. But, don’t worry, the drivers are experts with many years of experience behind them.
‘Classic River Journey’ Jet boating option North Island
Whanganui River Bridge to nowhere – This is a 30km (1 hour) trip upstream in the Whanganui River, Central North Island. The native bush on either side of the Whanganui River is so lush, you can smell the moisture. There’s a variety of amazing scenery throughout this jet boat trip. You’ll love the deep gorges covered with ferns and the rapids are are sight to behold. The boat goes deep this wilderness area and eventually arrives at the Mangapurua Landing.
South Island Jet Boating Classics
Wanaka River Journeys – There is a spiritual element to this jet boat tour. The braided Matukituki River changes constantly. Fed by glaciers and surrounded by the peaks of Mount Aspiring national Park, the Matukituki river is one of New Zealand’s most pristine jet boating rivers. The landscape is really magical. But what I really enjoyed about this trip, was hearing the stories of the the land and the people. See travel blog on this trip.
Siberia Wilderness Adventure Makaroa, South Island – The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park. It starts with a scenic flight, followed by a bush and valley walk. It ends with a jetboat ride in the Wilkin Valley. And if you love the feeling of complete isolation, you’ll love it.
Dart River Jet Queenstown – Dart River Safaris takes you into the very heart of a world heritage area. And for nature lovers, this tour is such a thrill. First, you’ll be jet boated into the pristine wilderness. Travel up a stunning aquamarine “braided” glacial river, beneath magnificent snow capped peaks mountains. Next there’s a refreshing short walk amongst ancient beech forest. Finally, just kick back to enjoy a back-road coach journey through fantastic scenery. This is where several Lord of the Rings films were shot. Its one of those great combo tours with variety plus. Allow 6 hours return. Read another travel blog on this trip.
South Westland and Fiordland Wilderness Jets
Waiatoto River Safari South Westland – This jet boat tour is unique in that it is the world’s first and only sea-to-mountain eco-jet boat adventure. Explore the remote Te Wahipounamu, the South-West New Zealand world heritage area. This Premier Jet boat tour of 2.25 hours, includes an optional bush walk. There’s no better recommendation than from Lonely Planet.
Wairaurahiri Jet Lake Hauroko Fiordland – Wairaurahiri Jet is located in a very remote area of New Zealand and covers 94 Kms of jet boating into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. Travelling across Lake Hauroko and down to the rugged southern Waitutu coast via the wild Wairaurahiri River – this is an exhilarating day in the great outdoors. Read another blog on this trip.
White Heron Nature Safari Westland – View the majestic Kotuku (White Heron), the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill), Kawapaka (Little Black Shag) and other Bird life – all in their natural environment within the Waitangiroto nature Reserve.
This small group tour is suitable for those people with a genuine love and respect for birdlife. The jet boat ride is very gentle and only takes 20 minutes each way. After landing at the jetty, take a short boardwalk (500m) through native bush to the viewing platform. You’re able to quietly observe these beautiful herons for 30-40 minutes. It is a privilege to see these creatures in their natural habitat and for me, it was quite a spiritual experience. Read another blog on this trip.
Summary on Jet boating options in New Zealand
Most visitors to New Zealand include a jet boating option in their itinerary. I guarantee, you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable option for Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand. If you’re lucky, you might even make a friend or two among the locals. We locals love our piece of paradise and enjoy showing it off.
Happy travelling with Jet boating tours New Zealand!