Now licensed to thrill


Queenstown jetboat jockeys receive the first of the industry’s new driver licences from Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges tomorrow. 

Driver licensing forms part of new Maritime New Zealand regulations for commercial jetboating. 

The new regime requires 50 hours training for drivers, together with theory and practical tests, and a “fit and proper person” background check. 

Shotover Jet’s driver training boss Wayne Paton will receive his company’s master licence tomorrow. 

Eleven other experienced Shotover Jet drivers will operate under the umbrella licence for 12 months while they obtain individual licences. 

Paton, 41, says Shotover Jet already exceeds Maritime’s new minima. 

“Any new Shotover Jet driver has to complete a minimum of 120 hours training – about two months – before they’re accredited to drive passenger trips,” he says. 

Shotover Jet also has existing practical and theory tests, Paton says. 

“The only thing that will be added to our procedures is that Maritime will now do a background check on all drivers because they need to be a fit and proper person.” 

Paton welcomes the new regime because it standardises industry procedure. 

“If you hop on a bus, you’d want to know the bus driver is licensed – and it should be the same with jetboating.” 

Thunder Jet boss Neville Kelly also says the new regulations mean little change. 

“We’re doing most of the stuff anyway.” 

Kelly and his three drivers receive their licences tomorrow. 

They all hold Maritime “local launch operator” licences already, Kelly says – these are required for the water taxis also driven by his jetboat drivers. 

Thunder Jet driver training is between 50 and 100 hours, Kelly says. 

Kawarau Jet will also be represented at tomorrow’s licence ceremony, its boss Shaun Kelly says. 

Like Shotover Jet, Kelly says he and Kawarau Jet’s other seven experienced drivers have a year’s transitional licence while they obtain individual licences.