Jet boating in Queenstown is an excellent adventure activity for those of us who are not so fond of falling long distances through the air.
If you want to get the adrenaline pumping without doing the more crazy extreme activities, like bungy jumping or skydiving, a jet boat ride is a good middle ground.
With most of the boats reaching speeds of around 80-90 kilometres per hour through thin canyons and shallow water, it's a good way to keep the heart racing if you're not a big fan of heights. It's also a good adventure activity you can do for a family trip, and most of the operators have family price packages.
And of course, as with all adventure activities in NZ, Queenstown is one of the best places to experience jet boating. There is a big selection of jet boating companies in the area – which means there is a lot of competition and it's often easy to find deals and discounts, if you know where to look.
This guide will give you a quick introduction to the major Queenstown jet boat operators, their prices and packages, and some tips and links for finding cheap deals on this and other adventure activities. Prices listed are current as of November 2015.
Price: $135 per adult, $75 per child or $345 for a family package
Details: The one that started it all - the Shotover Jet is one of the longest running and most well-known jet boats in Queenstown.
I remember my dad taking me on this ride when I was a kid and it was exhilarating, so if you have family with you I can recommend it.
The ride takes you through a narrow Canyon, often in very shallow water and you get very close to the rocks at the sides – so it's pretty intense.
Price: $125 per adult for their main ride
Details: K Jet is a good option with a ride similar to Shotover Jet's main attraction (though it's $10 cheaper!).
They have also branched out by offering a range of add-ons to their jet boat trips – for example, a jet boat/wine tour combo, and a package that combines the luge, a helicopter ride, the gondola and the jet boat (this is $350, so it's actually a pretty good deal if you're planning to do all four of those activities). Another package combines white water rafting, jet boating and the helicopter.
K Jet is worth looking at if you want to do a bunch of adventure activities all as part of one package.
Price: $120 adults, $60 children, $299 family pass
Details: Another good alternative to Shotover Jet if you want to be a bit more budget conscious – there is not really much of a difference between the experience you get between the two, as far as I can tell Shotover just charges more because they're a famous name.
This company is run by a couple of guys who are big competitive jet boating enthusiasts so they're passionate about what they do and have a big focus on safety.
Price: $139 adult, $79 child, $278 family
Details: This is very similar to the Shotover Jet experience. It's not the cheapest if you're doing it by yourself, but if you're booking a family pass this one is well worth looking at.
The big benefit of Skippers is that they have a package that combines the jet boat ride with a scenic tour of the region by bus, so if you want a combo package that is a little less extreme than the K Jet combos, this might be what you need.
The tour + jet boat combo is $189 per adult, $109 per child or $378 for a family pass.
Price: $109 adult, $49 child
Details: If you have your heart set on riding a jet boat in Queenstown but you want to spend the least possible, Goldfields will usually work out as the cheapest option (but again, always compare any specials or deals you can find before booking).
Again there's not a big difference between this and the other rides, and it's actually a little longer than some at 40 minutes so it's a pretty good deal.
Details: Okay, so this is a big different from the normal jet boat rides – it's basically a submersible jetboat designed in the shape of a shark.
A tad more expensive than the other boats, but well worth it for a one-of-a-kind ride – the boat actually moves like a shark, diving under the water and launching out again, while you're tucked (kind of) safely inside.
Alright, so as you can see jet boating in Queenstown is not necessarily a cheap activity – however, if you hunt around, it's not that hard to find deals that can give you a big discount. These are a couple of good websites to watch:
Jucy Deals - a great all-round travel deals site which sometimes has discounts of jet boating in Queenstown.
GrabOne.co.nz - a deals website where discounts can be scored based on how many people buy an offer - often has tourist activities listed.
Bookme.co.nz - a handy site for finding deals on activities and food places around NZ.
Combos.co.nz - a useful site for saving money by booking combination packages on activities around Queenstown.
Everything Queenstown - similar to Combos, a Queenstown-based outfit who can help you book discounted activities, especially combo packages.-
Shotover Jet Deals - The deals page for Shotover Jet.
And also don't forget to just try to combine all the activities you want to do into one package.
Often activity operators will have deals with each other to offer discounts, and hotels, motels and other accommodation spots also get involved in this and can hook you up with specials – it pays to take this into account and ask around when booking your accommodation in Queenstown.