After the marathon Milford Sound tour the previous day, and all the other sightseeing over the past 7 days, we were starting to feel a little tired. Today was our last full day in Queenstown, as we had to leave the next morning. So, while we wanted to take it easy today, we also wanted to finish up with any remaining activities that we initially planned for. We had been in the ‘adventure capital of the world’ for 2 days now, but had not done any of the signature adventure activities. While there are a plethora of adventure options to choose from, we had chosen to do the Shotover jet boat ride.
There are 3 major jet boat rides offered in the Queenstown area, the Shotover, Skippers Canyon and Kjet. While we did not go on every one of them, based on our research we learned that Shotover was the shortest (20 mins), but the most exciting. The reason being that it goes through very narrow canyons, very close to the rocks, and at high speeds (80mph). The Skippers Canyon ride includes a bus ride over the canyon, so it is good value for money as you get to do the boat ride and also check out the Skippers Canyon. But that jet boat ride did not seem as exciting to us (from the YouTube videos at least). Lastly, Kjet runs on Lake Wakatipu and surrounding areas, which to us was not as dramatic as tearing through the very narrow Shotover Canyon. But again, Kjet is 60 mins of jet boating. So basically every option has its pros and cons. A fourth option is to do the Dart Wilderness ride, which actually happens in Glenorchy. For this option, you have to ride a bus/van to Glenorchy (a famous drive from Queenstown) and then do a 60 min jet boat ride plus a 30 min forest walk. But you need at least half a day for this option. We did not have that kind of time on our hands.
We waited until the previous night to make our booking for the Shotover jet boat. We did this because sometimes there are good last minute deals on discount websites (for a list of discount sites please read this). But unfortunately, there were no crazy deals when we were checking. So, we went to the official Shotover website and booked our tickets there for NZ$129 pp. It was late at night, and we did not have access to a printer. So, we did not bother taking a print out of our tickets, but rather just noted down the confirmation number. The next day, we went to The Station information center in the heart of the town center. The Station has reception-like desks for all kinds of activities and adventure companies. We went to the Shotver Jet desk, and gave them our confirmation numbers. We were asked to wait for a few minutes until the bus arrived.
(the Shotover bus arriving at The Station)
After waiting for sometime, the Shotover Jet bus arrived and we boarded this bus. Our driver gave us an intro about Shotover Jet and showed us a funny animated video about safety instructions. As we watched the video, she made a short 10 minute drive to Arthur’s Point, the starting point of the jet boat ride. As we made our way to the starting point, we were greeted by Shotover personnel, who asked us to store all loose items in a locker and then made us put on safety jackets. They also gave us spray coats (aka raincoats) so we do not get drenched. We then queued for our boat, which arrived with a group of smiling tourists who had just finished their ride. They disembarked and then we made our way on to the boat.
(the screen in the bus showing an animated safety video)
(at Arthur’s Point)
(a scenic bridge over the Shotover river)
(the point for boarding the boat)
(the way towards Arthur Point)
Next, our boat driver gave us some safety instructions, and also some information about the jet boat. The boat apparently can go even when water depth is few millimeters, as it does not use propellers. The jet boat has a 700HP engine (a Ferrari has 350HP, so it is like putting two Ferrari engines together!). The boat burns through 40 liters of petrol in 20 minutes and can go to speeds of up to 85mph. Knowing all of this added to the excitement, and we were off.
As loose items (including my camera) we not allowed onto the boat, I do not have pictures of the actual ride. Apparently, GoPro cameras are allowed, as YouTube videos of the Shotover Jet seem to suggest. Throughout the ride, we had multiple close shaves (we could almost touch the rocks of the canyon), did 360 spins and accelerated in a way that would stoke an adrenaline junkie. The 20 minutes of jet boating ended before we knew it. Overall it was a decent ride, but it did not seem like the most incredible thing in the world. Some of the marketing hype around Shotover Jet makes this activity a little overrated. But this activity is unique because jet boating was invented in New Zealand, so there are hardly any places in the world where you can do this. In hindsight though, I would have rather done a bungy jump than the jet boat ride. But that is just my opinion, as some people may feel the exact opposite.
(a tiny facility in red which houses lockers)
(the famous Shotover Jetboat)
After finishing the ride, we took a couple of pictures before making our way back up to the parking lot, where the bus would arrive to take us back to Queenstown. As we were exiting, we came across the Shotover Jet Arthur Point office, in which the front desk was shaped in the form of a jet boat!
(the Arthur Point office with its unique set-up)
(another view of the bridge near Arthur’s Point)
(beautiful colour of the Shotover river)
(the Shotover Canyon area used to be a gold mining area)
(waiting for the bus to head back to Queenstown)
(the easy-to-spot red bus of Shotover Jet)
When we reached Queenstown, it was almost lunch time. We were craving some pizza and Winnies was one of the better known pizza places in Queenstown. So we made our way there and ordered a vegetarian pizza. It was not very crowded when we got to Winnies (around noon), and we did not have any problem getting seated. Though, I had read somewhere that this place does get packed in the evenings. Our pizza was pretty good, and the cook was quite generous with the toppings too. I would definitely recommend this place to anybody visiting Queenstown. I even got to enjoy my favorite NZ soft drink, L&P.
(menu at Winnie’s Pizza)
(a delicious vegetarian pizza with some L&P on the side)
Having finished lunch, we still had half a day in Queenstown to ourselves. So, we wandered around trying to figure out what to do next. We found something quite interesting. Read more about that in the next blog post.