Slide into your seat, buckle yourself in, grip the handrail and wait for the adrenalin to flow. Later when the driver says ‘Hold on” respond quickly before he executes a white-knuckle jet-spin.
These simple instructions are all you require to enjoy a uniquely New Zealand experience – jet-boating on the wild West Coast rivers. The jet-boat was invented in the 1960’s by a New Zealand farmer, William Hamilton, as he needed a suitable boat to navigate the shallow, braided rivers of the Canterbury Plains. The aluminium-hulled jet-boats are powered by automotive engines and propelled by a jet of water expelled from the stern.
Glacier Country has outstanding jet-boat safaris on several southern rivers like the Buller, Cascade, Arawhata, Waiatoto, Landsborough and Haast. The mighty Haast is a high volume glacial river that wends its way through 30 km of valleys and gorges. The variety of scenery on the Haast is staggering; snowy mountains, lush rainforests, and gentle streams all within the Mt Aspiring National Park
The Buller Gorge is another unforgettable jet-boat ride, which can be organised from either Greymouth or Westport. An informative commentary outlines the historic and geological features of this fascinating river. See evidence of the hard-won achievements of pioneer settlers, such as the hand-hewn Hawk’s Crag section of the Westport highway, which runs alongside the river.
Marvel at the versatility of jet-boat travel as you power through narrow gorges within metres of sheer rock walls, and plane across shallow shingle beds with mere centimetres of water under the keel. It’s a fun experience – a combination of thrills and wild water that’s sure to be a highlight of your West Coast holiday.
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