Queenstown is famous for jet boating, but Thunder Jet has a few awesome tricks up their sleeve to give you the ride of your life...
Racing over Lake Wakatipu in Thunder Jet’s biggest boat might not sound relaxing, but with the glorious sunshine and feel-good music, I start to doubt the ‘adrenaline rush’ I was promised. That’s until our driver, Kevin, signals with his hand the 360° motion, and we spin super-fast, screaming and laughing.
“Heads up guys,” Kevin grins, as we wipe the water from our faces, “That’s not going to get any warmer.”
I’ve joined a group of cheerful Australians at Thunder Jet’s base in the heart of Queenstown, to try their newest edition to the fleet, the Thunder Jet 4. As it carries 34 passengers, rather than the standard 20, this is officially the biggest Jet Boat in Queenstown (and the loudest, with 33 Aussies and a token Brit...)
As we speed our way over Lake Wakatipu to the River Kawarau, Kevin gives us some great local knowledge, telling us how the lake is so deep, the Skyline mountain would be submerged if it fell in. We reach the river in no time at all (it is an 860 horsepower boat after all), and are soon ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the impossible clear water, surrounded by mountains, golden hills and blue sky.
Kevin does a few more cheeky spins, before dropping into an eddy to chat about the gold mining history of the area.
“Through there you can just see the Shotover River joining the Kawarau. That’s one of the world’s richest rivers. In 1862, the first explorers discovered about 4 ounces of gold within 3 hours.” Suddenly the boat is full of hungry faces, their eyes lit up with dollar signs as they watch the rushing blue river hidden by green trees.
“Is there gold any left?” One woman asks. Kevin chuckles.
“This area has been mined for 150 years. I think they found it all.”
We roar on, in what is essentially a giant jet ski with incredible agility, drifting around corners within inches of the rocks and just missing fallen trees by milliseconds. I turn around, and everyone is grinning with delight.
We cruise back, our hour’s up already, and I hop off the boat still smiling. Thunder Jet have perfected the Jet Boat experience - you’ve got the great Queenstown location, face-melting scenery, cool drivers, local history, and of course, those epic 360’s. If you’re visiting Queenstown, it’s safe to say Thunder Jet is a must do!
For more info on Thunder Jet rides, head to: www.thunderjetqueenstown.co.nz