I certainly got more than I expected when we ventured out of Queenstown to experience the famous Skippers Canyon Jet.
It was an overcast Sunday but the iconic New Zealand town never fails to look amazing.
The whole experience lasted a total of three hours, from the time we were collected in the middle of Queenstown by a striking blue bus, to the moment we were dropped back off in the same spot. It was a great service and really convenient for all involved.
The name suggests a ride on a jet boat in the Skippers Canyon, which would be correct. But it is not the only thing included in this adventure. I was left really impressed as we were driven out of main Queenstown and towards Skippers Canyon and Coronet Peak.
Our tour guide and driver was immediately welcoming and enthusiastic. It was obvious he had a real passion for Queenstown and was proud to be a ‘local’. He spoke fondly of the incredible mountainous landscapes, lakes, rivers and other natural wonders. It seemed the perfect trip that was incorporating a tour of the surrounding beauty and also an adrenaline-pumping ride on a jet boat which is capable of reaching speeds of 80 kilometres per hour.
We turned off a main road and onto a hilly stretch. We were soon driving on an off-road track, appropriately named Skippers Road, and winding in and out of the mountains. It often felt too close for comfort! However, it was clear that our tour guide was very experienced at driving the bus on roads of this nature. It certainly took some skill!
We stopped in various locations for photo opportunities. At one stop you could literally see for miles, despite the overcast nature of the weather on the day. The farmland stood before our eyes and looked like a miniature model, so perfect. Buildings just looked tiny. We could also see Arrowtown out to our left, a lovely little village I was lucky enough to visit during my time in the area.
We continued up the steep and winding track, passing a few other vehicles along the way. There was barely any room for one, let alone two! The nature of the drive certainly added to the whole experience and the anticipation as we approached the Skippers Canyon Jet!
Skippers Canyon itself has a rich history and provides an intriguing story. It is home to the famous Shooter River which boasts an incredible turquoise blue colour and looks simply stunning as it runs in between the carved canyons up above it. The whole Skippers Canyon area is famous for its gold mining from over 120 years ago. During the drive along the canyon’s face, it was often possible to see pathways which had been carved out by the miners to provide access to their mining areas.
The sheer drops before us were amazing and just added to the build up of adrenaline. It was also great to learn about Skippers Canyon and its history and significance to the Queenstown area.
No road was present in the canyon before the gold rush which started in 1862. The Skippers Road was carved from the miners making their way through with horses. It was seen as a very unsafe road and calls to build it into a fully working road quickly grew. As a result, four contractors improved the quality of the road, with work being completed by 1890. Today, much of the road remains as it did back then, and it has become a very popular and iconic tourist attraction.
It is easy to see why with its intriguing nature and incredible views. Many adrenaline and sightseeing activities take place in the canyon, too, including the Skippers `Canyon Jet.
Storm Prior Dark Season Earth The Nuptse Face Purna North Brown Blue After exploring the area, we arrived at the starting point of the Skippers Canyon Jet. I was fitted with my life jacket and gloves, and boarded the blue boat with the recognisable logo standing proud on the front.
I boarded on the back of the boat and was accompanied by six others along with the driver. We started driving over the crystal blue surface, and the sound of the engine was just perfect. It was clear from the start that this was an impressively powerful machine.
We intertwined through the narrow canyons, driving close to them which only added to the thrill. The cold wind and splashes of water brushed my face as we picked up speed. We turned at a fast pace, often completing a full 360 degrees. The ride often became bumpy as the rocky surface touched the bottom of the boat.
The ride lasted an impressive 30 minutes, which really allowed us to immerse ourselves in the tranquil yet thrilling atmosphere of the Skippers Canyon. It really is amazing that we live in a world which boats such natural wonders, and it is so unique in the Queenstown area to be able to experience these with such thrilling and memorable activities.
The Nuptse Dark Blue Face Brown Purna Prior Earth North Storm Season Following the exciting ride, we boarded the bus and headed up to the Skippers Canyon Jet headquarters, where we admired the views over the Pipeline Bridge. This was originally a famous location for AJ Hackett bungy jumps but had been closed since 2002 due to the need for improvement works. It still stands proud and connects two canyons which are separated by the beautiful waters of the Shotover River.
We then received a unique photo of us fully enjoying the Skippers Canyon Jet. The photo was taken as the boat was turning at full speed, and I have to say it is obvious I was enjoying it, along with the others on the boat. It is a great souvenir to remind me of the fantastic experience.
This is a trip which includes some fantastic informative sightseeing alongside a thrilling ride on a powerful jet boat. It truly incorporates so much that Queenstown has to offer. I would recommend it to all – backpackers, tourists, locals and families. A unique experience to share with friends and those who are on the bus with you! Learn all about the famous Skippers Canyon whilst being whisked away on the jet boat in the vast canyons and mountains! A truly unforgettable experience during your time in the famous New Zealand area.