We began our list of adventure activities this morning with an early start on the 7:45 am Shotover Jet ride. This was the only time that we could book to enable Chris to do his combo experience of Jet Boating and White Water Rafting.
It was very interesting being up so early. The long distance buses were all leaving town, people were assembling at the nearby office to start their guided walk along the Routeburn Track and the tour operators were all opening their offices. There was quite a little crowd of people, like us, waiting to check in for their early morning activity.
We were bused out to the Shotover River and aboard our boat by 8:00 am. These boats are built locally and have been designed specifically to handle the narrow river Shotover River canyons. They are powered by two Buick 3.8 litre V6 supercharged engines producing 520 horse power. Propulsion, steering and control is provided through two Hamilton 212 Jet Units thrusting 760 litres of water per second. They can travel up to 85kph in as little as 10cm of water and can do a full 360° spin in their length.
It was an exhilarating ride down the gorge, narrowly missing rocks and the cliff sides. It seemed very unusual for driver to turn towards the rocks at high speed (rather than the seemingly natural approach of turning away from them) but this manoeuvre allowed the boat to slide past the rock outcrop and then be turned ready for the next section of the canyon. It certainly added to the excitement. In the open sections of the river, we hit top speed before doing a number of spins. Of course, I had the ‘lucky seat’ and got soaked by the wash of the boat as we turned and hit it during the 360 degree turns. Even though I was very wet, it as great fun!
After the jet boat ride, I left Chris to head off for his white water rafting expedition. This started a good distance further upstream and he was bused up to the start. He said that the rapids were a lot of fun – especially the last 400 metres which was through a 400 metre tunnel originally dug by gold miners to divert the river.
I headed back to town, had breakfast in a coffee shop and then met up with Jill and Cathy who were enjoying some ‘retail therapy’. There are some very nice shops in Queenstown and I think that we managed to visit them all. My favourite was the Rodd & Gunn menswear store where, with discounts and an exchange rate well in my favour, I was able to stock up on some new polo shirts.
In the afternoon, Cathy and Chris took the girls to the local pool and had a lot of fun in the whirlpool and on the water slides. Jill and I took sometime out for a very appropriate grandparents activity – an afternoon nap!
Dinner was at a very nice Thai restaurant where we had some very tasty curries.