The Best Jetboat Tours in New Zealand.
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The Practical Guide of the Activity.
- 1Ride the Rivers of New Zealand at 80 km / h!
- 2How Does a Jet Boat Ride Take Place?
- 3The Top 5 of the Jet boat in New Zealand.
- 4Challengers (Ranked From 6 to 10).
- 5How to Avoid Getting Wet?
- 6Is Jet Boat Dangerous?
- 7Our Advice to Get a Better Price!
Ride the Rivers of New Zealand at 80 km / h!
The jet boat as it is practiced in New Zealand is more like a theme park attraction than a means of transportation! The original objective, however, was to facilitate navigation on impassable rivers of the country.
Today, it is all about being frightened, going down rivers at full speed, while performing spectacular maneuvers: cliffs brushed within a meter, surprise turns ... all of this being performed in the dream landscapes from The Lord of the Rings.
To make this possible, the brilliant New Zealand inventor Sir William Hamilton has designed a machine with exceptional maneuverability, capable of making 180 ° turns!
The jet boat is a pure “made-in New Zealand” product. Its revolutionary design abandons the propellers in favor of a propulsion system to evacuate the water at high pressure.
And if you like speed, you'll love it! Two Formula One V8 engines are capable of exceeding 80 km / h. At this speed, the jet boat can fly over a river with a depth of just five centimeters!
But this concentrates of adrenaline and thrills, without being overpriced, nevertheless impose an expense of about $100 per adult.
A disadvantage compensated by the duration: a trip on the turquoise rivers of New Zealand occupies on average three quarters of an hour and you get what you pay for!
The popularity of the attraction is considerable, and the jet boat companies have multiplied throughout the country.
Generally installed near tourist areas, the organizers offer similar rates and commercial arguments copied one over the other.
Difficult to make a choice among all these offers, but we have established a ranking to allow you to compare the outings and thus organizing your jet boat ride in New Zealand.
But before covering the budget questions and the ranking itself, I will tell you what to expect from a jet boat tour. And if you still hesitate to participate for fear of being wet or for some other reason, some tricks and a short safety speech should finish convincing you. Ready for the ride?
How Does a Jet Boat Ride Take Place?
Paradoxically, the spectacle offered by a jet boat that spins at 360 ° while its passengers burst out laughing and howl with fear gives desire to book without waiting!
Forget the nice boat cruise of the Sunday and expect some extraordinary moments.
The pilot exploits the possibilities of the jet boat to the maximum and plays with your nerves by changing directions at the last second to dodge the rocks that mark the course.
The wind is so strong one can barely hear himself shouting!
And the moment you get used to the pace, the pilot suddenly executes the famous “Hamilton jet spin” which turns the jet boat at 360 ° in a wave of foam!
When he does not play with your nerves, the pilot makes sure you are comfortable and took every opportunity to tell jokes and anecdotes about the region. True speed professionals, never jaded and always passionate about their craft.
On arrival, one leaves the jet boat as if one had done a grand-eight at Disneyland.
Upon arrival you will have a great smile on your face, and a crazy desire to start again without waiting. But with such a high price, you need to choose your activity carefully, and our ranking of the best jet boat outings in the country should help you.
The Top 5 of the Jet boat in New Zealand.
The South Island dominates this ranking of New Zealand's best jet-boat trips. The North Island saves the honor thanks to the Huka Falls Jet, coming at the second position.
Here is the summary table of jet boat activities in New Zealand:
|2||Huka falls Jet||Taupo||North||$109||$65|
|4||Wanaka River Journeys||Wanaka||South||$229||$119|
|6||Skippers Canyon Jet||Queenstown||South||$189||$109|
|8||Wilkin River Jets||Wanaka||South||$110||$57|
|10||Auckland Jet Boat||Auckland||North||$85||$45|
1) Shotover Jet (Queenstown - South Island)
The number one in our ranking is a true icon in New Zealand and had more than 3 million customers since 1970.
Shotover Jet has the monopoly on a turquoise river winding through a spectacular canyon.
The half-hour excursion is brief, but intense.
The course is flawless and the supernatural landscape is undoubtedly the most impressive that one can find to practice the jet boat in New Zealand.
Only slight downside, the embarkation point is about ten minutes from Queenstown. You can go there by car, or simply take the free shuttle bus leaving from the Shotover Street near Queenstown's i-Site.
2) Hukafalls Jet (Taupo – North Island)
The trip lasts approximately 35 minutes (round trip) and with a boarding point located about 10 minutes north of Taupo in the Wairakei Park.
The Huka Falls Jet from Taupo and the Shotover Jet from Queenstown compete for the title of best jet boat activity of New Zealand. Honestly, we have assigned the second place to Huka Jet because Taupo can't compete with the beauty of Queenstown.
Anyway, Huka Falls Jet holds the monopoly to access the Huka Falls, the real highlight of the trip.
3) Kjet (Queenstown – South Island)
The KJet company (recognizable by its yellow painted boats) can boast of having been the first to offer tourists jet boat trips in the 60s.
And more than 50 years later, Kjet still occupies a place on the podium.
The departure is located at the Underwater Observatory on Marine Parade.
The route follows the Kawarau River and the Shotover up to Tucker Beach.
The landscapes are beautiful, but can't match those proposed by the famous Shotover Jet. Yet, K-Jet has some undeniable advantages, such as better accessibility and an extended tour to almost an hour!
4) Wanaka River Journeys (Wanaka - South Island)
Less touristy than its big sister Queenstown, the small town of Wanaka is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park.
The company “Wanaka River Journey” offers travelers the opportunity to go up the Matukituki River to admire what many consider to be the most beautiful panorama of the country.
The activity is not limited to the jet boat, and a 50-minute hike in the heart of wild landscapes allows to vary the pleasures.
Wanaka River Journey alternates the jet boat and hiking in the wilderness.
This is our favorite at Kiwipal! Wanaka River Journey could pretend to more than just a fourth position, but the twenty-minute shuttle bus to reach the departure and the 45 minutes return trip is too long to grant a place on the podium.
5) Thrillseekers (Hanmer Springs – South Island)
At just 90 km from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is best known for its natural springs and spas. If it cannot compete with Queenstown, the small town has earned an excellent reputation among extreme sports fans. The “Thrillseekers” company offers a thirty-minutes jet boat ride in the Waiau River Gorge. The activity is quite expensive, but the scenery is beautiful.
Challengers (Ranked From 6 to 10).
The following five jet boat tours are excellent, but did not deserve to be in the Top 5 because of some flaws.
These activities would receive a well deserved 10/10 in most countries of the world, but in New Zealand, the competition is well and alive.
Without justifying a detour, these activities deserve you to give them a chance if your itinerary passes nearby or if a company of the Top 5 is fully booked.
6) Skippers Canyon (Queenstown – South Island)
The outing organized by “Skipper Canyon Jet” includes several options including the visit of a small museum dedicated to gold seekers.
This jet boat itinerary is one of the most beautiful in the Otago region and would deserve to be ranked in the Top 5.
Unfortunately, access to the embarkation point is 22 km from Queenstown and can only be reached via the organizer's shuttle.
This is not a problem in itself, but the route is listed in the ranking of the most dangerous roads in the world!
The borrowed gravel road accepts only one vehicle, and the bus wheels are never very far from a precipice. And even if the driver is experienced, passengers will get a few cold sweats.
7) Thunder Jet (Queenstown – South Island)
Another company based in “Thunder Jet” bet on the extended duration (almost an hour) to challenge it's competitors.
It does not demerits, but the tour, which takes place mainly on Lake Wakatipu can't rival with the spectacular canyons itineraries borrowed by the other jet boat companies in the region.
Nevertheless, the scenery of Queenstown is breathtaking. Thunder Jet is somehow a great alternative solution in summer if the other jet boat companies are fully booked.
8) Wilkin River Jets (Wanaka – South Island)
Wilkin River Jets offer an experience quite similar to the one proposed by Wanaka River Journeys (4th in our ranking) for its jet boat part.
But the departure point is too far from Wanaka and the tour lacks the hiking and the filming locations of the Lord of the Rings. Somewhat frustrating.
9) Discovery Jet (Canterbury – South Island)
A pleasant jet boat trip with “Discovery Jet” in the Rakaia gorges, but, alas, far too far from Christchurch to fully justify a detour. To consider, however, at the end of your stay, if your itinerary passes nearby.
Please note that “Waimak Alpine Jet” offers an activity reputed similar, but we have not tested it yet for Kiwipal.
10) Auckland Jet Boat (Auckland – North Island)
A jet boat tour with “Auckland Jet Boat” offering nice points of view on the city of sails.
The itinerary passes under the Viaduct Harbor and if you are lucky you can encourage candidates for bungee jumping.
Note that the competitor company “Auckland Adventure Jet” offers practically the same activity.
In itself, it's indeed a nice activity, but I doubt you had decided to visit New Zealand just for a jet boat ride in a port, no matter how beautiful it may be.
Auckland Adventure Jet navigate on the marina of Auckland in Jetboat.A video of Auckland Adventure Jet
How to Avoid Getting Wet?
Do not trust too much the organizers, you are very likely to get soaked during the jet boat tour. It all depends on your place on board, and passengers sitting in the center will be the most spared.
Keep in mind that there are usually fourteen seats on board and that you may not necessarily be able to choose your place. Do not rush, and try to find yourself in the middle of the queue to get the middle seats.
Waxes and life-jackets will protect you and you will not be soaked from head to toe on arrival. That said, getting some water in the face is part of the game and becomes almost desirable during the sunny summer months.
Remember to bring some clothes to change you (just in case), especially in winter when the wool cap should be mandatory to avoid exposing your ears to the cold wind.
Forget the hats and other caps that will fly off as soon as the jet boat accelerates.
The gloves are not essential according to companies, because the secure bar to cling on board is often heated.
I do not recommend wearing glasses during the trip. They will be wet in a few minutes and you may not have the opportunity to wipe them along the way. Even worse, you might drop them into the water and never see them again.
Is Jet Boat Dangerous?
The Zen attitude of the pilots is just an appearance hiding a quasi-military training. It takes a minimum of 120 hours of hard training before being allowed to drive passengers. Training is then maintained on a daily basis and the itinerary is reproduced before the opening hours to monitor the state of the river.
The activity itself is no more dangerous than a Disneyland's roller-coaster. Life jackets and the safety briefing, however, remind that the jet-boat can be dangerous if you don't follow the instructions.
There is sometimes a slight apprehension before boarding. But be assured, if the experience is intense, it has been carefully planned to please everyone, and not to inconvenience passengers.
However, if you suffer from motion sickness or if your stomach still has a bad memory of your last Disneyland visit, I suggest you think twice before signing up.
I would lie to you if I told you that there have never been a jet boat accident in History. Of course, no travel agency focuses on this aspect, and organizers even less, for obvious business reasons.
The last serious accident occurred in 2010 and concerned the Shotover Jet company (still number one in our ranking). Ultimately, there were five slight injuries to deplore and the government decided to increase the safety rules even more.
The jetboat accidents are extremely rare, and are mostly caused by engine failures and not by piloting errors.
I understand that this may frighten you, but there are infinitely more accidents or broken legs during mountain bike rides in New Zealand.
If you really need to worry about something, it should be about sunburns accentuated by the reverberation of the water.
The fresh wind blowing during the ride masks the burning sensation, and the sunburns only appear afterwards.
Our Advice to Get a Better Price!
Extreme sports enthusiasts are not always interested in a jet boat ride whose sensations can't match to the ones felt during a bungee jump, for example. But for the vast majority of travelers, this is one of the best experiences one can try in New Zealand.
At $100 the jet boat ride is an expensive activity you can't repeat again and again, even if most organizers offer rebates when you book two consecutive rides.
There are, however, some tricks to have fun at a lower cost.
During the low season, some companies struggle to sell their seats and offer discounts on their websites. But you will find better deals (up to 40% of discounts) on the New Zealand websites specialized in rebates.
The worst mistake would be not to pay on the Internet.
On site, you are guaranteed to pay your tickets at a high price. I recommend you do not wait until the last minute and search discounts on bookme.co.nz well in advance.
The sale of souvenirs (photos and videos captured during your jet boat ride) is a real financial windfall for the organizers.
Do you really want to experience a unique experience by looking into the viewfinder of a camera?
You are usually not allowed to bring electronic devices on board. Besides, you would be hard pressed to hold a camera while clinging to the security bar.
Some companies (including Huka Falls Jet) take breaks during the trip to facilitate the taking of photos.
However, you may run the risk of damaging your device or dropping it into a river where no one will pick it up for you.
However, I advise against the purchase of photos and videos that are proposed to you with a somewhat annoying insistence at the end of the journey (it depends of the companies, but I hate this attitude).
Anyway, the speed and unforeseen movements of the jet boat do not give results that justify paying close to $30 for a few minutes sequence!
On the other hand, if you have a waterproof GoPro camera with a head strap, you may get excellent results and I therefore recommend this solution.
Do not hesitate to send your pictures to us, they will please our friend Ben the Kiwi who will also answer any practical questions below.
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? Without having tried all the jets of the country, I tested all the great classics of the specialty (huka falls, shotover jet ...) and I should be able to help you to choose.
- All topics ... 6 answers in total
- Jet boat Excursions 4 answers
- Questions About Jet Boat 2 answers
Jet boat Excursions
- How much does a jet boat ride cost?
The average fare is around $100.
- How long does a jet boat trip last?
The duration varies from thirty minutes to one hour depending on the organizer.
- What is the minimum age required to register for a jet boat trip?
You must be at least five years old. The main condition concerns the size of the child. It must measure at least 1,20 m (sometimes 1 m) to be able to settle on board. But the conditions vary according to the organizer, and you will find this information on their websites.
- Should we prefer longer excursions?
In reality, the duration is often extended to be competitive against other companies offering better quality routes. I recommend that you not focus on this criterion.
Questions About Jet Boat
- Who invented the jet boat?
New Zealander Sir William Hamilton designed this machine in 1954 to navigate on the rivers of New Zealand in spite of the power of the current and the shallow depth.
- What is the maximum speed of a jet boat?
On can reach about 90 km / h, but the tourist exits are limited to 80 km / h on the safest parts of the itinerary.
Seek advice from experts in New Zealand:
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