River ride with ‘a little bit of everything’
Trip Advisor reviews show there is no spin needed for tourists to highly recommend Go Jets Wanaka, one of the town’s newest adventure attractions.
Started in November last year by local owner-operators Patrick and Tracey Perkins, Go Jets Wanaka is already making waves in the Wanaka tourist market, with bookings exceeding expectations.
Go Jets Wanaka offers an exhilarating jet boat ride down the Clutha River, taking in stunning scenery along its fast-flowing jade coloured waters to the Devils Nook near Luggate.
While adrenaline-pumping action with 360 degree spins is high on the list of some, the trip also provides for some slower paced activities such as trout spotting, camera stops and commentary about the area and its gold mining history.
Patrick and Tracey, who have lived in Wanaka for 11 years, started the business in November last year after a rarely available operator’s consent was offered for sale.
“We could see tourism growing here in Wanaka; year after year it has gotten busier,” Patrick says.
“We could see an opening for jet boating, especially if we were to offer something different down the Clutha.”
The Perkins were fortunate to be able to purchase an already built tourist boat, with just 47 hours use, from KwikKraft, Rangiora. The 12 seater 5.8 metre craft is powered by a 440 horsepower Chevrolet marine powered V8 engine.
The ability to buy an existing consent shortcircuited what could have been a potentially long and difficult process to start the venture.
Patrick has a commercial skippers ticket, but was required to undergo more than 50 hours of training on the Clutha River to obtain a commercial jet boat licence, with the boat also being inspected and the overall operation approved by Maritime New Zealand.
Following this a “massive” marketing effort, including promotion through iSites, accommodation providers, a new website, brochures, and social media was undertaken to give the venture the best possible start.
“We’ve been really lucky with a lot of the locals giving us that support.”
The company has also been targeting Queenstown and plans to extend its reach to the West Coast. Tracey’s role includes the marketing, administration and driving a courtesy coach.
Their diligent preparation paid off over the summer, with strong bookings resulting in four trips a day during the peak months of December to February, however without any previous business history, this winter was a wild card.
“We didn’t know what we would be in for come winter, but it’s been fantastic. Skiers are here in abundance and after skiing day-after-day they want some other activity. We’ve been quite steady all the way through.”
Instead of Go Jets Wanaka potentially doing two trips a week mid-winter as originally anticipated, good demand has resulted in an average of one a day. “It’s been awesome.”
Also incredibly satisfying has been Go Jets 100% positive review rate on Trip Advisor, with not even the slightest negative feedback.
Tourists have commented on the “pure joy” and “breathtaking” jet boating experience, as well as on Patrick and Tracey’s great hospitality and focus on safety.
Patrick says Go Jets Wanaka provides excellent value for a all-round package that is about an hour and thirty minutes long.
“No one commercially goes as far down the Clutha River as far as we do from Lake Wanaka township.
It’s a picturesque river with fast flowing water plus some very shallow water and rapids; it has the largest flow of any river in New Zealand so it’s got a little bit of everything.”