Our Jet Boats

Early Beginnings - Technology - Safety

Jet Boats in New Zealand

Early beginnings of jet boats

Jet boating came into being through the inventive genius of New Zealand CWF (Bill) Hamilton, who was looking for a means of boating on the swift, shallow rivers of the South Island high country where he farmed. Bill Hamilton developed the concept of the jet boat when he ruled out as impractical the use of a conventional external propeller and instead devised the revolutionary internal impeller which provided through its design both propulsion and maneuverability.

In 1953 the jet boat was officially born and in 1964 the forerunners of the Shotover Jet began running the first commercial trips on the Shotover River near Queenstown.

In 1970, Shotover Jet came into being and the jet boating industry was revolutionized in 1976 when Shotover Jet designed and built the first of its highly specialised boats. These craft were designed to enhance the exhilarating Shotover Jet ‘drive style’.

In November 1990, Shotover Jet opened its first subsidiary operation Huka Jet (now Hukafalls Jet) on the Waikato River near Taupo, in New Zealand’s North Island. Hukafalls Jet was a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Shotover Jet group of companies. This company had collectively over 70 years of jet boating history. The Shotover Group was later purchased by Ngai Tahu Tourism.

Our Jet Boat Technology

Custom built in Queenstown

Custom built in the Queenstown workshops of our parent company Shotover Jet, they are constructed of heavy gauge marine aluminium, the hulls are designed for strength, and manoeuvrability. The boats have unique tiered seating and carry up to 17 passengers with an uninterrupted view.

Our boats incorporate the very latest technology with improved safety features and black-box technology for improved maintenance and engine efficiency. They also have superior visibility thanks to tiered, ergonomically moulded seats which feature heated and hinged hand rails for enhanced comfort and safety.

Equipped with the added safety of either twin supercharged V6 Buicks or twin 350 Mercruiser V8s. These have up to a combined total of 700hp, with twin Hamilton 212 Jet units thrusting 800 litres of water per second. The boats fully laden get their passengers on the plane in around two seconds.


Jet Boat Safety

At Hukafalls Jet we pride ourselves on our level of professionalism and safety.

As part of the Ngai Tahu Tourism Group, we operate under well-developed and stringent procedures.We have been operating in Taupo since 1990 and we have been constantly upgrading our systems and equipment. Our advanced jet boats joined our fleet in 2006 and took our operation to another level of safety.

The new boats have twin motors, scalloped seats, hinged handrails, black box technology, extra cushioning and additional buoyancy. All of these factors improve safety and comfort.

Our Safe Operational Plan exceeds the requirements of Maritime New Zealand and our drivers undergo 100hrs of training (legal requirement is 50hrs) before carrying passengers.

Our boats all carry Radio Transmitters and are in constant communication with each other and our shore base staff.

Our boat maintenance procedures are based on RCM (Reliability Centred Maintenance), which is the maintenance system used by airlines throughout the world. This requires all vital components of a craft being replaced at a predetermined amount of use, irrespective of condition. This system greatly reduces the chance of equipment failure.

We were recognised for our safety systems in the 2007 Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards where we won the ACC Workplace Health and Safety Award, ahead of many industrial businesses larger than us.

Each year, our team conducts a mock crisis where we prepare ourselves for the unlikely event of an emergency situation so you can rest assured you are riding with a team who know our safety procedures inside out and understand all aspects of our very indepth emergency management plan.

If you have any questions concerning Hukafalls Jet's Health and Safety systems, please feel free to contact us.