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Duke and Duchess enjoy thrills on jet boat ride

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoy adrenalin thrills on ‘the world’s most exciting jet boat ride’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed adrenalin thrills and breathtaking spins on Queenstown’s Shotover Jet today (Sunday April 13) on a trip renowned as ‘The world’s most exciting jet boat ride’.

The South Island resort town, known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of adventure tourism, lived up to its name when the Royal couple sped through the dramatic and narrow Shotover River Canyons on a ‘Big Red’ jet boat -- skilfully manoeuvred within centimetres of sheer rock faces carved out over hundreds of years by fast-flowing water from the Southern Alps.

Smiling broadly and somewhat damp thanks to spray generated by a series of Shotover Jet’s signature 360-degree spins, the couple chatted and laughed throughout their experience and asked plenty of questions en route.

They travelled along a 7km stretch of the river at speeds of up to 85kmh (53mph) in as little as 10cm of water, powered by their jet boat’s unique water jet propulsion units.

“The Duke and Duchess had specifically asked to have a trip that was the same as any we offer on a day-to-day basis,” said Ngāi Tahu Tourism Southern Regional Manager David Kennedy.

“We were very happy to oblige because as one of New Zealand’s leading adventure tourism companies we’ve taken more than three million-plus passengers on trips over the years, and we like to think we treat all of our customers like royalty.

“We took two boats down the river on our usual 25-minute trip, although given our VIPs today our drivers just ‘may’ have thrown in a couple more spins than normal.

“They enjoyed a perfect Central Otago autumn day for it, with blue skies, sunshine, trees tinged with seasonal oranges and golds and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

“Just like any young couple they had plenty of questions about how the jet boats work, the scenery and gold mining history of this area and the river, and were keen to have key landmarks pointed out.

“And just like everyone else they hung on tight to the heated handrails in front of them when the driver warned them as he was about to go into each spin, an exhilarating experience that demonstrates the sheer power and manoeuvrability of our twin V-8 powered ‘Big Red’ boats.”

The Duke and Duchess both dressed comfortably for the experience and the Duchess sported skinny blue jeans, paired with a navy blazer, striped shirt and flat loafers.

Both were fitted with bright red personalised Shotover Jet lifejackets and travelled in the first boat on the river, driven by highly-experienced Shotover Jet Operations Manager Wayne Paton.

Other passengers in the jet boat included members of the royal entourage, Ngāi Tahu *Kaiwhakahaere (tribal chairperson) Sir Mark Solomon, and a group of Ngāi Tahu youth who show tribal and business leadership potential.

A second boat driven by the equally experienced Head Boat Driver Nick Simpson followed shortly after, carrying more members of the Royal party, Ngāi Tahu *kaumātua (esteemed elder) Sir Tipene O’Regan and Ngāi Tahu *rangatahi (young people).

After the trip, the young couple were presented with a souvenir take-home photo pack of their jet ride – including shots of everyone on the two boats and a famous Shotover Jet ‘spin’ -- after getting back onto dry land.

“We wanted to give them something to remind them of the thrills, spins, smiles and fun times on their Shotover Jet trip,” said Mr Kennedy.


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