On a beautiful Queenstown morning, we set off for the harbour to experience riding in a stupendously powerful jet boat, humming and spinning down the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers. Anticipation filled the fresh alpine air with all tourists excited by the full throttle fun soon to begin. We stowed our bags downstairs and took in the aquatic life in the lake from an underwater viewing screen. Lost property on tour is an ongoing occurrence, but it is still mystifying to comprehend how Toby Phillips’ underpants had jumped from his bag and found their way onto the floor of the room.
Soon spray jackets and life jackets were fitted and the rules and safety precautions relayed. “All limbs must remain in the boat, when I do this….(driver spinning his hand in the air) hold on tight! We are about to do a 360!” Cheers erupted and faces beamed, with joyous smiles filling the $200,000 performance boat. We set off! Up goes the rev count, back go the heads, necks straining to keep our eyes fixed looking forward. The initial shock of the boats capability is released with a giant Woooohooooo! The first 360 degree spin delighted the Newington thrill seekers, jaws agape and eyes wide. Full speed ahead down the windy rivers, rocks and trees whizzing past at alarming speed. With landscape blurred from the pace, serene long range vistas were not impaired by the pace of hurtling beast.
Rain pelted our cheeks like tiny shards as we swept around the corners and bends of the pristine tributaries. Knuckles whitened and frozen from squeezing the railings too hard indicated the forces involved. We turned to head back to the port to see other jet boats perform their dynamic aquabatics in front of us. It was as if each boat was attempting to outmanoeuvre the next in an exhilarating display. All involved enjoyed the high powered ride, with freezing but satisfactorily thrilled faces aplenty.