September 22, 2017
For me there are two ways to see Queenstown, get high above it and get out on the lake. When up high, take that moment to appreciate the sheer size of the lake & the mountains that surround you. On a clear day the view can sure take your breath away. Luckily, on Sunday we were able to do both. After a strenuous sprint up Queenstown Hill to catch the views and have lunch overlooking this little mountain town, we were hurtling back down towards central Queenstown to go on a Jet boat ride.
Our Jet boat departed at 3pm so we naturally arrived super early and hung around on the pier for 30 minutes soaking up the sunshine. I had specifically worn yellow so I could match the boats & fit right in with the crew. I sensibly swapped my trusty fedora hat for a beanie to help keep my wild mane at bay and to also save chasing it back down the lake later.
I have lived in Queenstown for over two years, right on the lakeside and have watched the Jet boats scream up and down all day, yet I had never been on one. I had only ever been out on the lake once on a failed paddle board mission and I was itching to get back and explore the beauty from the water. The Big Yellow, the most distinctive Jet boat on the lake was our chosen vessel for the day; excited was an understatement.
I love experiencing new things, especially activities that get the adrenaline pumping around your body. I was anticipating a log flume style soaking during our ride as we put on spray jackets and life vests but our lovely driver assured us we would only get sprayed with water. I threw my British queuing etiquette into the lake and placed myself firmly at the front of the line so I could ride at the front of the Jet boat with the driver. After a bilingual safety briefing (he passed out some cards for our foreign visitors so everyone was on the same page) we started our journey on KJet!
KJet have operated since way back when. In 1958, their first Jet boat launched and they are proudly the world’s first commercial Jet boat operator. The hour round trip departs from the Main Town Pier and takes you on a thrilling ride down Lake Wakatipu, under the new and old Kawarau bridge, up the Kawarau River and on a trip down the Shotover River, throwing in some stomach churning spins and travelling at speed quick enough to whip your hats firmly off your head!
I listened to the safety briefing, holding on tight when the driver waved his hand around letting us know we were in for a spin and kept my arms and all other body parts firmly inside the boat at all times. There was however a few times when I slammed back and forth alarmingly close to the driver and then back into poor Robbie at the side of me, I was so excited taking photo’s that I missed the spin signal.
The trip is truly breathtaking; even at top speed. You are surrounded by the mountains, the beautiful blue of the lake and transported to pockets of Queenstown you may not get to see during your visit here on land. Heart racing moments like navigating under the bridge called for my girly screams, as did dodging the overhanging trees that line the lake. We stopped three times during our trip for some insightful local info from our young Kiwi captain. I have lived here two years, right underneath the mountains we were hurtling toward and I never known why they were called The Remarkables… It is one of the only mountain ranges in the world that runs true north to south, pretty impressive if you ask me.
After avoiding nearly sitting on the drivers lap again, I listened when he waved his hand in the air, dug my feet in and held onto the heated handrail as he threw us around the lake once more. I think he was getting a bit brave as towards the end of the trip the spins got faster, more frequent and we definitely got a little wetter. We were soon hurtling back up Lake Wakatipu waving at fellow lake dwellers and racing the setting sun back into Queenstown Bay.
As we pulled into the bay and slowly back into the pier, we were able to soak in the serenity of being out on the water for a few moments longer. The gals on the pier were on hand to take our fetching spray jackets off us and welcome us down into the Underwater Observatory. I was happy enough watching the fish for a while as my key ring was prepared. I’m a sucker for a good souvenir and this is one memory I definitely want to keep!
Thank you for the ride KJet, our day out was epic!
Notes of a Northerner by Sophie Piearcey
Experiencing the world, one step at a time.
Instagram: @sophiepiearcey – Notes of a Northerner