A heavyweight Queenstown tourism player will helm the resort’s original jet boat company.

Mountain Scene can exclusively reveal the Davies family’s Trojan Holdings — which owns skifield operator NZSki and a slice of AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand — has bought 90% of KJet for an undisclosed sum.

Established in 1958 and billed as the world’s first commercial jet boat operator, KJet offers thrill rides on the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers from its Queenstown town pier base.

According to its website, its eight boats can take up to 140 people at one time — the biggest capacity of any jet boat company in NZ.

Since 2011, the company’s been owned 50-50 by local Shaun Kelly and Skeggs Group, which owns tourism player Southern Discoveries.

Kelly — who originally bought into KJet in 1987 when the company had only one boat — retains a 10% shareholding and is GM of the new Trojan subsidiary.

All 24 staff, including nine permanent drivers, are being retained.

The purchase, effective July 1, also includes the Time Tripper underwater attraction under the town pier.

Stoked to welcome KJet to the family

Ngāi Tahu Tourism, which owns Queenstown’s Shotover Jet, last year tried to buy KJet, its main rival.

The Commerce Commission, which had to approve the merger, was concerned it would limit competition, raising the spectre of increased prices and lessening of service.

The commission still hadn’t made its decision when Ngāi Tahu Tourism, just before Christmas, withdrew its application.

Trojan Holdings director Mike Davies says he’s thrilled to welcome KJet into the Trojan family.

‘‘KJet is an iconic, well-established brand with a rich history.

‘‘Our investment reflects our commitment to preserve the legacy of a highly successful local tourism operation that aligns perfectly with our other existing ventures.

‘‘This partnership brings together two thriving, locally-owned family businesses that complement each other seamlessly.

‘‘Shaun’s continued involvement as a shareholder and GM will be invaluable as we move forward.’’

Kelly — a former NZ jet boat racing champ who placed fifth in the worlds in 2000 — in turn says joining forces with Trojan is ‘‘a tremendous opportunity for KJet’’.

‘‘Their experience and resources will enable us to elevate our operation.

‘‘I’m excited to remain part of this journey and look forward to what we can achieve together.’’

A Trojan media release says its ‘‘extensive resources’’, which KJet can now access, include increased investment in cutting-edge techologies, enhanced marketing and HR strategies ‘‘and the development of new and exciting adventure tourism products’’.

KJet will continue to operate from its Queenstown HQ while integrating more closely with Trojan’s network which is also based downtown.

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