Thundering loss for KJet


Jetboat giant KJet has lost another significant battle in its legal war against a rival firm.

A judge has dismissed the company’s appeal against a ruling that allows Thunder Jet to share the lower Shotover River.

The two firms are owned by brothers Shaun and Neville Kelly, involved in a bitter, long-standing feud.

The Environment Court ruling in February broke KJet’s monopoly on the stretch of the river from the Kawarau River confluence to Tucker Beach.

Thunder Jet director Debbie Kelly, Neville’s wife, says they’re “absolutely delighted”.

“You’d like to think this is the end of it all now. It’s not us that instigates it but you’ve got to stand up for yourself.

“We want to concentrate on the future, hopefully they will too.”

Since then, Thunder Jet has operated four boats on that stretch alongside KJet’s eight boats.

But KJet owner Shaun Kelly has refused to concede defeat.

“It’s early days and we’re in the process of considering our options now,” he says.

Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd, the parent company for Thunder Jet, applied to Queenstown’s council for consent to operate on Lower Shotover back in 2013.

KJet opposed on safety issues but after various hearings, the Environment Court confirmed the grant of resource consent.

KJet lawyers appealed that confirmation to the High Court.

The case centred on whether previous KJet resource consents for that river had lapsed and procedural legal matters.

Justice Gerald Nation presided over a three-day High Court hearing in August and this week issued a reserved decision dismissing the appeal.

And his “tentative view” is that both Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd and Queenstown’s council are entitled to costs.
He said if agreement was not reached on costs, the court will hear from both sides and decide.

That’s likely to stick in the craw of KJet.

It’s already paid $187,500 to Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd and $133,000 to Queenstown’s council in costs after losing a five-year battle to maintain its 10-year monopoly on Kawarau River.

Both firms access the Kawarau from Lake Wakatipu, and KJet opposed the original 2008 consent on the grounds of river safety.

Shaun Kelly says the companies now have an “integrated safe operational plan” for both rivers.