Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Safety programme ensures work never stops for Shotover Jet

31 January 2014

Safety programme ensures work never stops for Shotover Jet engineers

While Queenstown tourism pioneer Shotover Jet is busy ensuring thousands of holidaymakers experience the power and thrill of their Big Reds this summer – spare a thought for the guys in the engine room out the back.

As with every well-oiled tourism operation that appears to run effortlessly, this one is literally ‘well-oiled’ – by the team of maintenance technicians who beaver away largely out of sight with the aim of delivering a safe, reliable fleet for the ultimate customer experience.

Central Maintenance Manager Brett Dingle is responsible for ensuring that Shotover Jet’s fleet of seven state-of-the-art boats are on the water as much as humanly possible, as well as keeping on top of a highly-tuned maintenance programme for the company’s fourteen other boats from Dart River Jet, the Hollyford Track and Huka Falls Jet.

– Dingle – who has worked for the jet boating company for seven years -- has seen his role evolve from initially looking after just the Big Reds to now co-ordinating the servicing and technical developments of the fleets for all Ngāi Tahu jet boat operations.

When a Big Red or another boat is in for its annual service after each 1,000 hours on the water, it is literally stripped down and deconstructed to bare metal. Then every inch of the hull and its critical components are checked before being re-constructed from the ground up.

“We fully strip the boats down for leak testing and structural repairs, there’s a full service on the jet units, engines are checked over for any wiring issues, steering systems get replaced, fuel tanks get removed, cleaned out and pressure tested, then there’s the replacement of any of the 50 ‘life limited’ critical parts that are due before the boat is re-assembled and goes back on the water for performance testing,” said Dingle.

A ‘central maintenance’ team of six plus Brett takes about four weeks to complete the service – that’s around 500 man hours going into each service to ensure the boat is safe and ready for another exciting year’s operation.

In a rolling programme, they carry out 11 full annual services a year, only taking time off at Christmas and New Year when Shotover Jet is at peak capacity.

“In the past, the individual businesses used to maintain their own boats with help from ourselves, but now we’ve developed a state-of-the-art central maintenance facility at the Shotover Jet base that’s the ‘one stop shop’ for all the businesses to bring their boats here,” said Dingle.

“Before they come to us, each of the businesses will have carried out interim services for every 100 hours of boat life, and as the hours clocked up get higher there are different items that will be checked and maintained or replaced.

“Specific components such as the steering system are periodically checked by an independent engineer who performs non-destructive tests, looking for any micro cracks that may lead to faults.

“In addition to the annual boat audits carried out by a Maritime New Zealand representative we also have the local harbour master pass his eyes over each boat when their service is complete. During the year each of the Ngāi Tahu businesses carry out peer reviews on each other as two pairs of eyes are better than one.

“The whole drive is about predictive maintenance, picking things up before they get to the ‘broken’ stage,” said Dingle.

“Even our oil is removed from our boats every 100 hours and sent away for analysis to see if they can check for minute particulates that might identify premature wear or contamination. Dealing with an issue at this stage could prevent a bigger fault occurring at a later stage.

“No matter what though, once one of the 50 critical parts reaches its specific life limit, it’s removed and destroyed by running a bandsaw through it.”

Life is not all about servicing though – the engineering team works on technical developments as well.

“The new Shotover Jet V8 engines have been exceptional for us; we developed a new version of the Big Reds 18 months ago and we’re in the middle of doing the same for Dart River Jet and Huka Falls Jet as we speak,” said Dingle.

And while they might be working behind the scenes, that doesn’t mean to say they don’t see and appreciate the end results of their labours.

“We take a great deal of pride in that, it’s something that gets us all out of bed in the morning,” said Dingle.

“I’ve been in engineering-related industries over the last 20 years and this is the first one where you immediately see the results just by walking out of the workshop; happy customers screaming and laughing on the river gives us all a real kick.

“It’s quite rewarding to see that and what we’ve done over the last seven years with the reliability of the fleet.

“There’s a huge amount of effort that goes into ensuring the safety of those boats is maintained, and I guarantee my guys would lose sleep at night if they didn’t think the job was done properly.”

Shotover Jet, Dart River Jet, Huka Falls Jet and the Hollyford Track are 100% owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators.

About Ngāi Tahu Tourism
Ngāi Tahu Tourism is one of New Zealand’s premier tourism operators and the parent company of an extensive portfolio of iconic eco-tourism and adventure experiences.

From high adrenalin thrills to remote and spectacular World Heritage locations each business offers a range of unique experiences for travellers to and around New Zealand.

South Island operations include Shotover Jet, Dart River Jet Safaris and Hollyford Track Guided Walks in Queenstown, and Franz Josef Glacier Guides and Glacier Hot Pools in Franz Josef.

North Island operations include Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park and a significant investment in the Agrodome in Rotorua and the Hukafalls Jet in Taupo.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism is part of the Ngāi Tahu Holdings Group which includes significant seafood and property businesses.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Oceans: NOAA Declares Third Ever Global Coral Bleaching Event

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. More>>

Scoop Business: A Decade Of Government Pre-Seed Investment

More publicly-funded science is being commercialised after a decade of government ‘pre-see’d investment, according to an independent review. More>>


Solid Energy: Plan To Shut Unprofitable Huntly East Mine

Solid Energy, the state-owned coal miner in voluntary administration, plans to shut down its unprofitable Huntly East mine and lay off 65 staff after deciding the site stands "no chance whatsoever" of finding a buyer. More>>


E Tū: Merger Creates NZ's Biggest Private Sector Union

E tū has been created by the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union. It represents more than 50,000 working New Zealanders in industries as diverse as aviation, construction, journalism, food manufacturing, mining and cleaning. More>>


Internet: NZ Govt Lifts Target Speeds For Rural Broadband

The government has lifted its expectations on faster broadband speeds for rural New Zealand as it targets increased spending on research and development in the country's information and communications technology sector, which it sees as a key driver for export growth. More>>


Banks: Westpac Keeps Core Government Transactions Contract

The local arm of Westpac Banking Corp has kept its contract with the New Zealand government to provide core transactions, but will have to share peripheral services with its rivals. More>>


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news