“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

"Everybody dies. Not everybody really lives."

The saddest sound in the world is a man saying, "I wish I'd have done that."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Zealand Jet Boating

I had this great idea:  front seat in a jet boat, shooting dramatic videos of my adventure as I blasted up the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers in New Zealand.  It was a great idea.  Unfortunately reality intervened. 

It all started out just the way I envisioned. We strapped into the gaudy banana yellow boats of Kawarau Jet, one of a number of companies that offer high speed river trips out of Queenstown and I prepared to start filming a grand video adventure.  We idled away from the main pier in downtown Queenstown and once we cleared the pier area our boat driver slammed the throttles full forward and roared across the smooth expanse of  Lake Wakatipu.  So far so good, I was capturing some great moments as our driver threw our brawny boat into a series of 180s and pirouetted the boat like a child's toy. 

Then we hit the Kawarau River.  Our overpowered banana bellowed through the shallow braided currents of the Kawarau.  My last bit of video records a dizzying blur of sky, spray and rubber boat flooring.  I clung to the boat's handholds to keep from being thrown around like a pinball.  But what a ride!  The trip turned into a blur of G forces, blinding spray, and overpowering speed.  I thought; this is very cool.

But the Kawarau was just a warm up.  We raced from the Kawarau to the Shotover River.  Where the Kawarau was broad and lined with low willow-lined banks, the Shotover was narrow and crowded by high rock cliffs that perched on river edge, waiting to reach out and smack our boat.  So imagine caroming through a twisting narrow river with huge overhanging boulders suddenly jumping into your path, waiting to decapitate you.  That's the Shotover.

Anyway, my death grip on the grab handles precluded any video shooting so here's one from the web:


Like I said, lots of companies offer jet boating out of Queenstown.  Here's the one we used:


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