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Into the eye of the Shotover Jet

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Welcome To’s intrepid adrenaline junkie, Madeleine Swain hits Queenstown on a whirlwind visit to ride the Shotover Jet. This is how it all went down…

Entering the Shotover Jet building, you are greeted by a wall of smiling celebrity faces, togged up in their macs and lifejackets. The recent royal visitors, Ben Harper, Laura Dern and, yes, even Gandalf himself (Sir Ian McKellen) are among those happy to have braved the thrilling ride, with its 360-degree spins and hair-raising cliff (almost) grazing passes.

Shotover Jet 3

On the other wall, there is a timeline with a big arrow marking the day the Queen visited. Visited, mind. Something tells me, Her Maj wasn’t actually game to get in and go for a spin. But if that’s so, she missed out. She really missed out. Established in 1970 and better than ever, the Shotover Jet is an absolute blast.

Each boat can seat 14 people, plus the driver, with those at the back likely to end up the wettest. Your ride on the water will last about 25 minutes (but make sure you have a good hour and a half for checking in and getting kitted out etc) and in that time you’ll cover at least seven kilometres of the Shotover River, with a few double-backs and crazy turns thrown in for good measure.

Shotover Jet 2

It’s an adrenaline rush for sure and while signs warn against pregnant women or people with back or neck issues jumping in, it’s suitable for all ages and dispositions. The ride in front of us had one of the jolliest crews of senior citizens I’ve ever seen, while my 10-year-old daughter immediately wanted to do it all again. There are height restrictions though, which can change depending on prevailing conditions, so check before heading out.

Me? Well, as a nervous car passenger at the best of times, I may have sometimes looked nonchalantly in the opposite direction when our driver Nick buzzed within inches of the canyon walls at furious speeds. My goodness, they go close…

Shotover Jet 1

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