Pioneering The Future Of Adventure

From a pioneering history to paving the way, Shotover Jet Queenstown is embarking on a journey to build the world's first commercial electric jetboat.

Hear from more changemakers making a difference – watch another episode.

In this episode of From the Ground Up:

  • You’ll meet Donald, Project Lead for Shotover Jet’s world’s first commercial electric jet boat project and Nick, Head Driver in charge of testing the prototype.
  • Discover how Shotover Jet’s desire to protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint has fuelled this innovative project.
  • Learn how Shotover Jet plans to demonstrate what’s possible and share their knowledge from this project to inspire others in the industry.

What started as a slow-moving wooden boat transport system from Queenstown to Arthurs Point in 1965, Shotover Jet is now known as an iconic adventure thrill ride through the Shotover River canyons.

Shotover Jet is owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, which is owned by the Ngāi Tahu Iwi, the largest Māori tribe in the South Island. Ngāi Tahu values mean they want to make as little impact on their environment as they can. Their statement of purpose is, 'mō tātau, ā, mo kā uri a muri ake nei', which translates to, 'for us and our children after us'.

“In 2018, we undertook a study to identify where our carbon outputs were coming from. Pretty quickly we realised over half of Ngāi Tahu Tourism's carbon footprint was coming from petrol being burnt by our jet boats. It became the obvious thing to start with – to look at how we could convert our boats from internal combustion engines to alternative energy.”

In a world-first, world-famous Shotover Jet has built a prototype electric jet boat that they intend to eventually develop a high-performance commercial boat to roll out across their entire fleet.

“When we decided to build a prototype electric jet boat, nothing like it had been done before. We realised it was going to be quite a big challenge. It took us two years to build before we could even get it on the water.”

Shotover Jet’s head jet boat driver, Nick was chosen to be the test driver for the electric boat project, having driven over 20,000 trips.

“We got the boat on the water for the first time and I put my foot down in this boat not knowing what it was going to be like. You do get a noise, but it’s completely different. The absence of petrol engines accentuates everything else.”

“The electric boat will do all the same turns, spins, slides and lines as a petrol boat. It will actually be more powerful. That's something that we're going to have to be careful with the design. We need to make sure it doesn't deliver literally too much power – which is a really exciting problem to have.”

Once the design phase is completed, and the first electric commercial jet boat is in operation, Shotover Jet aims to share what they’ve learnt with the industry.

“At the end of the day, we're only gonna make a small but powerful contribution to climate change. But if we share what we know, together we can make a bigger impact.”

From The Ground Up video series digs deep into the stories of local businesses building a regenerative future within the Queenstown community. From pioneering world-firsts to grassroots initiatives, each episode celebrates those making a difference to the environment and their communities, from the ground up.

Hear from more changemakers making a difference to Queenstown’s environment and community – watch another episode of From the Ground Up.

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