The thrill of a tourism icon


I’m one of eleven eager Shotover Jet passengers kitted out in spray coats and life jackets, waiting to pile into a bright red boat. 

It’s an icon of the New Zealand adventure tourism scene that’s been running for 30 years. I try to refuse having my photo taken as it’s not too much fun on your lonesome. 

“Sorry, we have to,” Shotover Jet’s photographer says. 

“Safety precautions mean we have to snap you to prove you are wearing your life-jacket just in case you don’t return.” 

I nervously laugh. 

We pile into the boat; the pleasures of being by myself lead me to have full reign over the entire back seat. 

I can’t help wondering if I’ve been made an outcast because I smell or said something wrong. 

Before we take off there’s another photo opportunity. Then it’s time for the thrill ride. 

We glide through the narrow canyon. Steep vertical rock walls line either side. We skim past dislodged rocks and branches. 

The boat rips over water which seems to be just five centimetres deep. It’s truly unbelievable. 

Deep within the crevasse we glide and dance around with 360-degree spins that leave me drenched. 

We come to a halt and the driver asks where everyone’s from. 

“Mountain Scene newspaper,” I say. 

“Oh no,” he shakes his head. 

“Move over to the right side then – we may just be able to tip you out,” he jokes. 

Then Funny Man – our driver – carries on, heading full-throttle toward rock walls that you think you’re going to hit. At the last minute he skilfully steers away. 

Adrenaline is pumping as we skim – with inches to spare – past a crevasse. The driver pulls a 360-degree spin and we come to a grinding halt by the jetty. 

Ah, home and hosed.

All you need to know
Shotover Jet
Where Shotover River, Arthurs Point
Cost $129 (adult), $40 (a second go)
Book 442 8570
Thrill-o-meter 7/10