Friday, February 15, 2013

Fifth Day in New Zealand - Shotover River

Shotover jet boat in Queenstown, New Zealand


One of the classic New Zealand adrenalin thrill activities is the jet boat. The Shotover Jet company invented this activity in 1970 and has taken more than 3 million people on the ride. Margot and I decided to sign up.

If it doesn't look that exciting be sure to check out the expression on the woman in front right seat.


Here is an overview of the operation. The main building is on the hill on the right center of the picture. There is a loading hut down by the river. It is movable to  account for changing river levels.


Bridge over the Shotover River in Queenstown, NZ


This is a picture of the one-lane highway bridge over the  Shotover River. I took the picture above and below from the bridge.

I don't think I mentioned this before but there are a surprising number of one-lane bridges in New Zealand. We must have encountered more than 25 during our driving. I guess this started out as a cost saving measure. It really isn't a problem - there just isn't that much traffic. There is a system to decide who gets the right-of-way and Kiwis seem to be polite enough and considerate enough to make it work.


Here you can see one of the boats headed for the bridge.  They go about 40 mph and are highly maneuverable with twin jets on the back.

These pictures were shot on two different days so you may some changes in lighting, etc. We went the first day to see if it was something we wanted to do. We came back the next day to take a ride.



The boats only need about 3.5 inches of water to operate at speed. As you can see the water is pretty shallow on the rock bar.


In a narrow and rocky river the 40 mph seems pretty fast.



Here the boat is headed back up river. The woman in front seems to be enjoying it a bit more now.

The company has a license to operate over a 4+ mile section of the river. Other boating activities are restricted. We did see a couple of recreational gold panners, though.


Here one of the boats is speeding down the canyon.


Here is the same boat a couple of seconds later.


They come pretty close to the walls of the canyon on purpose. It is amazing how quickly the boats can change direction. A couple of times I thought for sure we were in trouble but the driver knew what he was doing.


You can see that the driver is concentrating pretty hard.

The woman seems a little less sure at this point.


The signature move is the 360 turn. Here they spin around for a picture at the boat dock.

They provide a waterproof jacket to keep the spray off if you want it.


The first 3 or 4 were fun but I was pretty seasick by the time I got off. He must have done 7 or 8 over the course of the 20 minutes or so. I staggered off the boat and took a few minutes to get back to normal.

Highly recommended. Just take something if you have motion sickness.

Here is a video Margot shot. I've got a higher resolution version but I can't figure out how to put it in the blog, yet.

video

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