5th January 2018: Shotover River

Date:    5/01/18
Shotover River, Queenstown, NZ
River Conditions:  
12 cumecs at Bowens Peak. Water clear and cool. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:  
Cool & overcast, slight drizzle.
Number on Trip: 
 4 people.
Time on River: 
0.5 hours.
Comments:  One of the things that Lauri’s family wanted to do when they came to New Zealand for the first time, was to visit Queenstown. This opened up the possibility of a wide range of activities, ranging from a peaceful cruise on the Earnslaw to the more full on activities like bungy jumping or white water rafting. While I would have been keen for a spot of white water rafting, the fact that learning to swim isn’t that common in Korea, made that activity a little too extreme. Likewise the were no takers for bungy jumping, though when we did visit the Kawarau bridge site, we got to witness one woman doing the jump naked, which was a little bit of a surprise for our guests to say the least. Since we were keen to do something exciting that involved white water and little actually risk, a jet boat ride seemed like a good option.

Shotover Jet was recommended to us and after a bit of discussion, a booking was made and the next morning we walked down to “The Station” to catch the shuttle out to the site. We were issued with the special red scarves and when the driver arrived, we all trooped down to the bus. It was just a short ride out to the Shotover River and our friendly driver explained all the safety information, which Danbi then translated in to Korean.

A jet boat speeds out of the gorge.

From the bus, we were shepherded down to the river, issued with spray jackets and buoyancy aids and had group photos taken. As we waited we were able to witness the jet boats tearing in and out of the gorge and preforming 360’s, it all looked pretty exciting.

After another safety briefing we climbed aboard, I picked an edge seat for maximum thrills and once everyone was in, we were off. The gorge was pretty tight and Nick, our expert driver, was a master at extracting as much excitement as possible, with close passes, high speed turns and 360’s as we skimmed across the waters surface and the rock walls flashed by. Being on the outside edge, I tended to get splashed with a certain amount of spray but generally stayed pretty dry, though I could have done with windscreen wipers on my glasses.

We headed down stream until the gorge opened up and the river widen, becoming shallower. Two dogs chased our boat along the bank before we put them behind us is a cloud of spray. Once we reached the limit of the commercial run, we spun round (several times actually) and headed back up the river, pausing briefly for a chat and to allow the other boats to clear the narrow gorge before we reentered it, all coordinated via radio.

The trip back was exciting and there were plenty more 360’s to be had. Up past the launch point we went, slowing to pass a number of rafts coming off the rafting section. At the upper end of the river that could be accessed by a jet boat, we watched the rafts come down the final big rapid after exiting the old tunnel, built in an attempt to extract gold from the river bed. The white water rafting looked like a lot of fun and I’d certainly be keen to give it a go on another trip.

Back down the river giving the rafters a wide berth, a few more 360’s, a high speed group photo and then we disembarked. Looking at the photo it is pretty clear almost everyone enjoyed themselves (the exception being the elderly Indian couple who definitely seemed to be wondering what their sons had got them in to). In-Sung’s worried expression at the start had changed to a wide smile, though when asked if they wanted to again, our guests replied “yes, but not today”.

A group photo…at speed.

It was a really fun trip, a great mix of excitement, scenery, water, rocks and thrills, in a safe environment, definitely worth doing if you are in Queenstown.