Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Shotover Jet & Autumn Colours

While waiting to move to the Autumn Festival Rally in Arrowtown we stayed at the Arthurs Point Top10 Holiday Park for a couple of days, it's a small compact and busy site where we've stayed a few times. Our friends Amanda & Paul are tucked into their favourite spot in the corner...well it's about the only spot they would fit in so it has to be their favourite...

...and here's us in our fav site too, where we just manage to get our nose off the road. This is an important point when most of the other campervans arriving are driven by foreign drivers- sometimes you've just got to close your eyes and hold your breath. Arthurs Point is just above the Shotover Gorge and handy to Queenstown and Coronet Peak, for skiing, in the winter.

I found a great way to make the most of doing the mundane chore of buying groceries; do a few photo stops on the way. Just below the holiday park is the historic Edith Cavell Bridge which crosses the Shotover River and links Arthurs Point to Queenstown.

Built between 1917-1919, the bridge is a “parabolic rib arch design” and is one of the most iconic sights of Queenstown.

The home base for a major tourist attraction, the Shotover Jet, is just upstream of the bridge; it's where the jet boats depart on their super fast, adrenaline fueled tours upstream and down. Loaded buses arrive every few minutes during the height of the season and every half an hour or so at other times packed with tourists collected from pick up points and various accommodation suppliers around Queenstown.

The following two photos were taken just 3 weeks apart, the 2nd one was shot just last week while we were waiting for the rain to stop before heading to Glenorchy. After 7 days of rain, you can see how much the river has risen. And also how quickly the autumn colours on the slope behind have disappeared.

April 20th, 2016
May 15th, 2016
Here's a sequence of photos from one of the many jet boat trips I watched while I was meant to be away getting the groceries.

Guests board the boat-

The jet boat roars off upstream-

Before turning around and racing back down to do a spin in front of the camera (photog standing on ladder on the jetty). Added value for the company and an added bonus for the punters! At $135 per adult, what's another few dollars to have a keepsake of your ride.

Interrupted to compare again- photo spin from the other day.

Back to April, the jet boat races downstream...

...and past me standing at the lookout. I love zooming in to see the expressions on their faces (click to enlarge the photo)

They pass under the bridge and weave their way through the Shotover Gorge, passing very close to the rock face and then a few minutes later re-appearing to do a couple of spins (in the gorge)...

...before roaring back past...

...cutting in close over the gravel in the shallows...

...and doing one final spin as they arrive back at the jetty. Those are super experienced skippers.

And here another one from the other day to compare again, he travelling over an area where there was bare gravel last month.

On this latest shoot I went downstream- across the bridge and up the other side where I'd seen a pull-off area behind a fence. I thought I might have been able to see where the river opens up again after the gorge. It was a big surprise to find myself right on the edge of a very steep drop-off down to the river below (with a fence in between) and that not only could I see downstream (and a boat returning)...

...but I could see the end of the gorge upstream too.

And just because they make me smile, here's two more close-ups. I could watch the jet boats and take photos all there's an idea! I could be the official photog on the ladder. There's more added value here- the buffs some of them are wearing over their faces and heads.

I finally pulled myself away from the gorge and headed back past the camp ground and over towards Frankton, stopping more than once to take photos of the beautiful autumn colours. 

This one is looking back towards Arthurs Point with the lower Shotover River in the foreground. This is where the jet boats turn around before heading back through the gorge. 

I stopped at the historic Lower Shotover bridge where I knew there would be some lovely colours. Built in 1909 this former main highway bridge, now fully restored, is used as a pedestrian & cycle bridge.

Taken from the middle of the bridge, looking downstream towards the 'new' bridge with the Remarkables in the background.

And upstream into the sun...I should have stopped here again last week. I bet that rock island is now surrounded by water.

Lucky David isn't with me, he'd be rolling his eyes and making hurumph noises... I took another side road so I could get close to the 'new' bridge...

...where I could see some lovely poplars across the way... 

Now, I'd better go and get those groceries.


  1. Are you sure you weren't a petrol head in a life before groceries?
    Heading home today after 10 days in The Bay...cut short by deisel heater irregularities.

    1. Very intuitive of you Jimu. I was a tom-boy- after horses came trailbikes & motorbikes, working at and watching speedway. I love rally cars and Bathurst is a favourite. Hillclimbs, street racing, off road 4WD, powerboat racing, I love them all. As long as they're fast & furious, they suit me.

      A shame about the heater, best get it sorted before winter really sets in though.

  2. This brings back memory of our very first jet boat ride during our first trip in February 2000. It happened to be with Shotover Jet too but somehow it turned out to be the most disappointing tour we ever had. I couldn't explain why but the atmosphere was just not right there. Some sort of creepy, unwelcome feel. An overcast day, no cheerful smiling faces. I don't remember riding up and down the canyon, the ride was over all too soon and we were far from being thrilled. It made us feel as if the skipper was just phoning it in. Nine years later we finally experienced the full capacity of a jet boat, with NZ Riverjet, on our second jet boat tour 'Thermal Safari' on Waikato River. That's a very pleasant one but IMO jet boat ride is fast but not as furious/exciting as what I've expected from their ads :) When we stayed at Trelawn in April 2011, we enjoyed looking at Shotover jet boats zooming past and performing spins day long either from our private deck high up or down to the river bed to get a really close up look. Fun!
    It just occurred to me why not check what happened to Shotover Jet during our first visit. Here's the google result I got a minute ago:
    That sad incident happened less that 3 months before our visit.

    1. A very sad incident indeed, I remember it well. Unfortunately there is risk involved in most of the extreme adventure sports on offer in NZ, it's a fact that many people don't take into account because it rarely happens. Of course it is mostly very safe. Safer than flying to NZ I would think. I'm glad you found another operator where you enjoyed the experience.


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