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One of the greatest icons of New Zealand tourism has reinforced its status as a world leader in commercial jet boating with the development of a new custom-designed ‘Big Red’ jet boat.
The design and development team at Queenstown-based tourism leader Shotover Jet, a multi-award-winning company operating for more than 40 years, has spent the past 24 months working on the new boat.
The new ‘fifth generation’ prototype represents a big step forward in terms of power, manoeuvrability and enhanced customer experience, resulting in a highly specialised craft that is a unique combination of design and configuration.
Shotover Jet General Manager Clark Scott said the company continued to raise industry safety standards and passenger comfort levels through on-going development and innovation.
“Our ‘Big Red’ boats are designed specifically to handle the Shotover River Canyons, can travel at speeds of up to 85kph in as little as 10cm of water and can do full 360° spins,” he said.
“The new boats have a range of improvements that include a reshaped hull to improve fuel efficiency and ride through all water conditions, and to minimise how wet the customer gets in a spin.
“All 14 seats are built into a single pod which removes in one piece and is made of carbon fibre to reduce weight. It comes from a single mold to provide consistency from boat to boat so everyone gets the same experience.”
Within each pod are individual carbon fibre seats with increased lateral support for customers enjoying a famous ‘Big Red’ 360-degree spin, and new seat cushions for added support and comfort.
The boats feature new handrails with improved shock absorption and different heat settings for varying weather conditions, as well as an ergonomic handrail position for improved comfort.
Other additions include strengthened side intrusion for improved safety, and a wing redesign to comply with new Maritime Safety regulations.
“While some of the design changes might not be obvious to the naked eye, and quite hard to spot unless you place one of the current boats alongside the new prototype, the overall increase in power, from 520hp from two 3.8 litre super-charged V6’s to 660hp from two 5.8 litre Chevrolet V8’s will launch our customers into the experience quicker,” said Mr Scott.
“Along with the increased thrill I’m sure they’ll agree the sound of the new engines will only add to the experience.
“The existing boats continue to be of a world-class standard that’s second to none, but the boys in the workshop are always looking at ways and means of tweaking the design and ‘upping the ante’ to take our fleet to a whole new level.
“I’ve had the pleasure of taking the new prototype for a spin or three, and I can personally vouch for the experience!”
The new jet boats will be rolled out over the next couple of years, but Mr Scott said the company would be taking the opportunity to adopt some of the new boat additions into its existing fleet to ensure improvements could be enjoyed by all.
Last year New Zealand Prime Minister John Key helped Shotover Jet celebrate its three millionth passengers when a lucky foursome from Australia learned they had officially notched up the milestone figure.
Shotover Jet has been in operation since 1970, shortly after the invention of the jet unit by Kiwi Bill Hamilton. It began with ‘Jet 53’ wooden boats that carried five passengers and took 1,480 passengers in its first year.
Since then Shotover Jet has remained at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation in New Zealand adventure tourism, over the years developing boats at the forefront of jet boating design, build and safety standards.
“We pride ourselves on being pioneers of the jet boat industry, while also making a major contribution to New Zealand's overall positioning as an adventure tourism destination,” said Mr Scott.
“Not only do we make it our mission to give visitors to Queenstown the ride of a lifetime, but we do it while constantly evolving our safety features, maintenance standards and driver training standards, many of which are adopted by other jet boat companies around the country.”
The multi tourism award winning attraction is 100% owned and operated by Ngâi Tahu Tourism, one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators. Ngâi Tahu Tourism has recently launched its new nationwide ‘Go Pass’, a discount card exclusively for independent travellers offering savings on 17 iconic New Zealand activities.
For more information about Shotover Jet, ‘The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride’ visit www.shotoverjet.com.
About Ngâi Tahu Tourism:
Ngâi Tahu Tourism is one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators and the parent company of an extensive portfolio of iconic adventure and eco-tourism businesses.
Ngâi Tahu Tourism is one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators and the parent company of an extensive portfolio of iconic eco-tourism and adventure experiences.
From high adrenalin thrills to remote and spectacular World Heritage locations each business offers a range of unique experiences for travellers to and around New Zealand.
South Island operations include Shotover Jet, Dart River Jet Safaris and Hollyford Track Guided Walks in Queenstown, and Franz Josef Glacier Guides and Glacier Hot Pools in Franz Josef.
North Island operations include Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park and a significant investment in the Agrodome in Rotorua and the Hukafalls Jet in Taupo.
Ngâi Tahu Tourism is part of the Ngâi Tahu Holdings Group which includes significant seafood and property businesses.