I haven’t ridden every jet boat in the world. But I can say with surety that the Shotover Jet is an extremely exciting ride. It’s the original adventure jet boat and has been operating since 1965. We got to take a ride on the Shotover River in this remarkable boat, and it was a highlight of my time in Queenstown.
Throughout the ride, I was most struck by how beautiful the scenery around the Shotover River is – cliffs and mountains and beautiful forests with a picturesque bridge as well. But that did not distract me at all from the thrill ride of the jet boat.
The boat itself goes at ridiculous speeds and can spin a full 360 degrees in surprisingly shallow water. The skipper would give the warning: a little propeller motion with his pointer finger, and away we’d go into a full spin. It was exhilarating and refreshing as we all got soaked. The ride lasts about 25 minutes, and I could have gone a second time right away. Lots of celebrities and even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took a ride on the jet when in Queenstown, so we were in good company.
After our Shotover Jet adventure, we headed over to Arrowtown for some pie, hot chocolate and a little bit of gold rush history. As I mentioned in my post about Arthur’s Pass, gold was discovered in them thar hills, i.e., the western side of New Zealand’s South Island known as the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s. Many foreigners rushed to New Zealand to capitalise on the finds.
There are lots of local legends associated with this time. Two creeks on the approach into Queenstown are named Roaring Meg and Gentle Annie after two ladies who followed the miners to the rush. Legend holds that Meg made a fuss when the men she was traveling with tried to carry her over the creek, while Annie was meek as a lamb on her turn over the creek, so the names stuck. Roaring Meg has several other legends to her name, including an allegedly successful career as a madam. But whatever the truth, there is definitely a Roaring Megs Restaurant in Queenstown today.
Title quote: tagline for the Shotover Jet