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South Island

Speed & jet boat tours

Our most recommended South Island Speed & Jet Boat Tours

Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

1. Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

Get an adrenaline rush on a 1-hour jet boat ride, operated by the world’s first commercial jet boat company. Take in stunning views of the Remarkable Mountains and journey up 2 of South Island’s most iconic rivers.  Depart from the heart of Queenstown, and climb aboard the big yellow jet boat at the Main Town Pier. Hold on tight as you accelerate across the water and feel the exhilaration of a high-powered twin-engine boat that powers across Lake Wakatipu. Experience the twists and spins as you enter the Kawarau River and race past rocks and under bridges at speeds of up to 95 kilometers per hour.  Grip the heated handrails and experience 360° spins while you speed up the shallow channels of the Shotover River. After 45 kilometers of pure adrenaline, return to the pier and see photos and videos from your trip.

Skippers Canyon Thrilling Jet Boat Ride & Scenic Transfers

2. Skippers Canyon Thrilling Jet Boat Ride & Scenic Transfers

Enjoy a spectacular guided tour of Skippers Canyon followed by a thrilling jet boat ride through the narrowest canyons on the Shotover River. Take on the only jet boat ride where you experience the historic gold mining relics that still remain in the riverand Lord of the Rings locations.  Meet your friendly driver in central Queenstown and head up into historic Skippers Canyon. Enjoy live on-board commentary from your knowledgeable driver and marvel at the stunning scenery.  Journey through a land rich in gold mining history and breathtaking views via the infamous Skippers Canyon Road, hand-carved out of the vertical rock face over 120 years ago.  Upon arrival to the Shotover River, you will be provided with a life jacket and warm gloves. Feel your adrenaline surge as you power deep into Skippers Canyon through the narrowest canyons on the Shotover River.  Highly skilled jet boat drivers maneuver the boat just inches from the sheer canyon walls. Experience speeds in excess of 80kph and a series of full 360° spins.  After your ride, take you back to the jet boat base to view footage from your ride before the trip back to Queenstown through the breathtaking canyon.

Queenstown: Dart River Canoe, Jet Boat & Paradise Day Trip

3. Queenstown: Dart River Canoe, Jet Boat & Paradise Day Trip

Combine wilderness jet boating with unique ‘Funyak’ inflatable canoes for a fun way to explore the Dart River located in the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park. Your full-day adventure begins with a courtesy transfer to Glenorchy from Queenstown.  Admire lakeside scenery as your local driver shares entertaining commentary about Lake Wakatipu and its legends. The spectacular 46-kilometer drive is considered one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives. Meet your friendly, experienced guides at the Dart River visitor center who will kit you out with all the equipment you’ll need for the day. Enjoy 1-hour of high-speed wilderness jet boating through the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area and your Funyak launch site.  Start your paddle, soaking in the tranquillity as you float downstream on sparkling water. Explore hidden side streams, rock pools, and dramatic chasms under the expert guidance of your guides. Savor a delicious picnic lunch, which marks the midway point, before continuing downriver. At Paradise, climb aboard the bus for a back-country tour through the valley to Glenorchy. Immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Your adventure concludes with your return to Queenstown. 

Queenstown: Kawarau River Rafting and Jet Boat Ride

4. Queenstown: Kawarau River Rafting and Jet Boat Ride

Raft the Kawarau River, perhaps better known as the River Anduin in Lord of the Rings, for a great half-day activity in Queenstown This is a perfect introduction to whitewater rafting for first-timers. There will be plenty of rapids action plus time to sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Catch the free shuttle from the centre of town out to the raft base where you will be fitted out with all your gear. From there, head back into the heart of Queenstown to catch your jet boat transfer. Take on the beginning 22 km of the Kawarau river at 95 km/h with thrilling 360-degree spins as you arrive at the rafting station. Your rafting adventure covers 8-kilometers of the river. Take on grade 2-3 rapids and perhaps the occasional grade 2-4 rapid, when there are higher water levels. These are usually easier to navigate and there is less risk of falling out. Enjoy flat stretches of river between the rapids where you have the opportunity to race your friends on the other rafts or jump out and swim. Keep an eye on the other rafts, as there is a good chance of a water fight. Conclude your adventure by rafting the longest commercially rafted rapid in New Zealand, the Dog Leg. This is a 400-meter long and grade 3/4 rapid. Add some extra excitement by joining in on the optional cliff jumping section, or sit back and watch your friends take a leap.

Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

5. Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

Experience the water like never have before on a jet boat adventure in Wanaka. Skim across shallow water, over sand bars, through rapids, and around rocks at speeds in excess of 80 kilometers per hour. Departing from Wanaka’s waterfront, enjoy a short jaunt across the lake taking in stunning snow-capped mountain views, and prepare to enter one of the world’s swiftest-flowing rivers, the Clutha River.  Of course, a jet boat ride wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Hamilton Spin, a high-speed maneuver causing the boat to spin rapidly on the spot. Your expert driver will raise your adrenalin, demonstrating the maneuverability of the jet boat and pushing it to its absolute limits, safely and skillfully navigating you on an unforgettable adventure.

Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

6. Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

Discover Queenstown’s untouched and pristine wilderness during an authentic jet boat adventure across Lake Wakatipu and along the historic Kawarau River. Choose from a 25-minute or 1-hour experience and spend more time on the water with a convenient departure right from the heart of Queenstown. Depart from Thunder Bay next to Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown and travel far up the Kawarau River, covering a distance of 47 km. Along the way, listen to interesting commentary from your experienced driver. After getting equipped with a life jacket, climb on board and experience exhilarating 360-degree spins, skimming the water at speeds of up to 95 km/hour.  Then, travel down the river where it is calmest, even when the lake is rough. Take your camera along to capture the stunning scenery of your jet boat experience with frequent photo opportunities.

Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

7. Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

Marvel at the Alpine landscapes of Hanmer Springs, and experience the adrenaline thrills of a jet boat adventure. Located approximately 90 minutes from Christchurch, the mountain town is a Mecca for fans of adventure activities, such as quad bikes, bungy jumps, white water rafting, and much more. Make your way to the jet boat base for a safety briefing. Then, travel the narrow gorges, braided shallows, and water rapids by jet boat. Your time on the water will last at least 30 minutes, but allow one hour for the whole experience (including thorough safety briefing). Soak up the spectacular scenery as you travel the entire length of Waiau Gorge. Hold on tight as you experience the famous Hamilton jet spin!

Queenstown: Half-Day Dart River Jet Boat & Paradise Tour

8. Queenstown: Half-Day Dart River Jet Boat & Paradise Tour

Discover breathtaking World Heritage scenery, exhilarating wilderness, thrilling jet boating, and Maori heritage on a half-day adventure. Travel deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park with the only jet boat operator allowed on the Dart River. Throughout the day, your experienced guides will add a personal touch, sharing the area’s history, the Greenstone trail, and Maori legends.  Your half-day adventure begins with a courtesy transfer to Glenorchy from Queenstown. Admire lakeside scenery as your local driver shares entertaining commentary about Lake Wakatipu and its legends. The spectacular 46-kilometer drive is considered one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives. Arrive at the Dart River visitor centre and be equipped with everything you need for your jet boat experience. Climb aboard and discover a unique combination of breathtaking scenery matched with thrilling high speeds.  Enjoy 2 hours of thrilling high-speed on a jet boat ride through Dart River’s wilderness. Skim across braided, glacier-fed rivers into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. You’ll travel as far up the river as possible, before returning to Glenorchy back down the Dart River to immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Return to Glenorchy and join the courtesy transfer back to Queenstown.  Sample Itinerary: 08:30 AM Courtesy transfer from Queenstown to Glenorchy 09:30 AM Dart River jet boat experience 11:30 AM Return to Glenorchy 1:00 PM Arrive Queenstown

Hanmer Springs Jetboat & Quad Bike Combo

9. Hanmer Springs Jetboat & Quad Bike Combo

Take in the magnificent scenery, then hold on while you experience the famous Hamilton jet spin. This beautiful alpine river features narrow gorges, braided shallows and white water rapids. Travel over 30 kilometres of exciting jetboating and spectacular scenery. Your journey on the water lasts at least 30 minutes and you should allow 1 hour for the whole experience including the safety briefing. The focus above all else is safety, customer service, and value for money. Fun and thrills in the beautiful natural environment of Hanmer Springs. Put yourself in control of a four-wheel quad bike. Challenge the terrain, with river crossings, mud, dust, dirt and excitement. This guided Quad Bike tour will show you some of the real back country New Zealand as you pass through farmland, sheep trails, rivers, sand and bush. You can choose to ride your own bike (subject to age restrictions). Your guide will give you the freedom to challenge yourself within the safety boundaries. Two hours of adventure in the beautiful natural mountain environment of Hanmer Springs. 

Fiordland: Jet Boat & Nature Walk Experience from Te Anau

10. Fiordland: Jet Boat & Nature Walk Experience from Te Anau

Begin your adventure in the heart of Te Anau, a short walk from most accommodation. After check-in, rest at a picnic table to enjoy free WiFi and a charging station to make sure all your devices are good to go. Hop on the bus for a short ride through local farmland to the Queen's Reach boat launch on the Waiau River.  Gear up with spray jackets and life vests before an exhilarating ride down the Waiau River. Lined by ancient beech tree forest this river is featured in The Lord of the Rings as the Anduin River. Contrast high-speed spins with pauses along the river in some amazingly tranquil places. Spot some trout in the crystal-clear water and have time to take plenty of photos. Learn about the area's unique environment and fascinating history from your knowledgeable local guide. Emerge onto the breath-taking Lake Manapouri, surrounded by glacier-carved mountains. Experience a sense of wonderment as you sit in awe of their beauty and grandeur. Go ashore to explore the ancient surrounds on a short walk.

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What people are saying about South Island

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 90 reviews

This experience was everything I expected it to be and more. The guide was very informative. The road into the canyon was spectacular. Not for the feint hearted. It's a 2 way road wide enough, for the most part, only one vehicle. Glad we didn't encounter one coming the other direction ;) The jet boat was AWESOME. The driver was clearly VERY experienced. Would highly recommend to anyone just thinking about it. JUDT DO IT!!!

We have been here a week and done a few touristy things , this was by far the most amazing thing we have done. We had a great guide / driver and what an amazing drive we had the most hectic drive but done safely. Also very capable and professional jet boat driver. It was fun , informative and highly recommended . If you only want to do one thing …, do this

As a family of 4 adults we thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Staff without exception were wonderful and the great provided by the operator was very good. The setting was truly beautiful, even the rain we experienced on the funyak portion of our day only added to our memories of a day well spent.

Was very informative and the best scary drive and jet boat ride I have ever experienced. Thoroughly enjoyed it

It was a great experience. Kids loved it . Instructions were clear ,the staff were friendly