Best Jet Boat Rides in New Zealand

You may have done plenty of water sports before from tubing to water skiing to pulling flips off the high dive. But nothing can compare to adrenaline rush that comes from jet boat. You can’t come to New Zealand without experiencing the thrill of a jet boat tour!

It can get a little confusing to choose from so many jet boating tours. To make your choice easier we’ve listed the best jet boat rides in New Zealand below.

What’s jet boat?

Invented in the 1950’s by a Kiwi Farmer Bill Hamilton, jet boats were designed to easily navigate the shallow waters of the Canterbury rivers. However someone then realised they could make on hell of a ride for tourists! Flying down canyons missing the rocks by mere centimetres is one hell of a rush.

A jetboat is a boat propelled by a jet of water ejected from the back of the craft. Unlike a powerboat or motorboat that uses an external propeller in the water below or behind the boat, a jetboat draws the water from under the boat through an intake and into a pump-jet inside the boat, before expelling it through a nozzle at the stern.

1. Queenstown Shotover River

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular River Canyons. It is also the only Queenstown jet boat operation that do full 360 degree spins.

Prepare yourself for the ultimate jet boating experience and an adrenaline rush you’ll never forget. From the moment the accelerator hits the floor, you’ll speed over 10cm deep water, along the famous Shotover River and deep into the spectacular Shotover River Canyons.

As the Shotover Canyon walls tower over you, your expert driver will put the Big Red Jet Boat through its paces. At 85km an hour your driver will skilfully whip the powerful boat past rocky outcrops, skim around crags and boulders, and speed through the dramatic and narrow canyons. Rock faces blur in your peripheral vision and the water sprays into a myriad of white water crystals with every turn. Early-risers, choose the Sunrise Jet option to get the first ride of the day.

2.Queenstown Go Orange Jet Boat

Choose to experience 25 or 60 minutes of exhilarating Jet Boat adventure starting right in the heart of Queenstown Bay!

Prepare yourself for the ultimate jet boating experience and an adrenaline rush you’ll never forget. With twin V8 engines accelerating, you’ll race down the Kawarau River at speeds of up to 90km/h and experience the exhilarating adventure filled with speed, thrills and even more of those famous 360 degree spins. Hold on as you race faster than ever before down Lake Wakatipu. Your expert driver will get you up close and personal with the lakes edge, skimming past trees and any obstacles in your way.

3.Dart River

Join one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities as you take a Wilderness Jet into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park on this half day adventure!

Starting in either Queenstown or Glenorchy, you’ll journey deep into Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life. Your tour starts with an invigorating hour long jet boating journey into Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. You’ll experience a unique combination of breath-taking scenery and an exhilarating ride as you follow the braided, glacier-fed river. Listen carefully as your expert guide tells you about the area’s rich history, the Greenstone trail and countless Maori legends.

4.Taupo Huka Falls

Hukafalls Jet is the only jet boat company permitted to take you to the base of the mighty Huka Falls. Operating on this stretch of the river since 1990, Hukafalls Jet has an outstanding record of professionalism and safety.

Your Jet Boat Ride will take you along a beautiful river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and hot water streams. Hold on tight as you’ll be travelling in one of the state of the art jet boats at an incredible 80km an hour! Along the way, the trademark 360-degree spins will leave you with a beaming smile and a heart pumping with adrenaline! When getting up and close to the spectacular Huka Falls – New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction – you will be shocked by its size and power. From your unique vantage point on the jet boat, you will have the best water level view of Huka Falls and its impressive water flowing over the 11 metre high cliff.

5.Matukituki River in Wanaka

After being collected from your pick up point of Wanaka i-SITE, you can brace yourself for a full day of fun and adventure! This is a great opportunity to spend more time exploring the spectacular glacial formed Matukituki Valley. You’ll first take part in the adrenalin filled jet boat ride across the pristine waters of the Matukituki River. Located beneath the spectacular scenery of glaciers and Lord of the Rings film locations, the Matukituki River is the perfect place to experience the longest and most adventurous jet boat ride in New Zealand. Travelling at speeds over shallow braids, drifting into turns and experience thrilling spins, your heart will be racing. There will be time to catch your breath when the jet boat stops in deep pools and here you can soak up the magic of the landscape and hear stories of the land from your local guide.

6.Wilkin River in Wanaka

Located 45 minuts out of Wanaka in a place called Makarora, you can get a wilderness experience like no other. Makarora is nesteled amongst the snow capped mountains and lush rain forest of the World Heritage listed Mount Aspiring National Park

Each of the treks lead you to the thrilling Wilkin River Jets where you will jump on board to explore not one, but two wilderness rivers, the Makarora and the Wilkins. From here you will conclude your day in nature and head back to base.

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