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Change Up A Gear On The Waimakariri

For immediate release – December 11
Change Up A Gear On The Waimakariri

This summer’s holidaymakers in the Canterbury area can expect a wider range of thrill-seeking activities, thanks to the businessman who now owns two of the local jet-boating companies.

Paul Vernel has owned Jet Thrills for some time, but this month bought Alpine Jet as well, to pursue his dream of offering a wider array of trips to people.

“Jet Thrills has always operated on the lower braided Waimak just north of Christchurch and Alpine Jet the upper gorge section just out of Springfield, but I had been thinking about how it would be good to offer our tourists the whole of the gorge experience,” he says.

“Different visitors have different time available, and want different experiences, so we now offer everything from a 30 minute jet boat blast, to a leisurely all day adventure tour from the Southern Alps to the sea.”

“People love to ride in the jet boats, but some want more than just scenic rivers. Alongside our network partners, we can offer combinations of the jet boating plus a bus ride, a train trip, a 4x4 ride, a helicopter flight or a horse trek and farm tour. ”

Geoff Smart is a business broker with Simes Limited and knows the Waimakariri Gorge like the back of his hand from kayaking and competing in the Coast to Coast event. He could see the potential for the two businesses to work together, so brokered a deal to make that possible.

“More than 15-thousand people a year ride these six jet boats, so operating them in a complementary way seemed a god idea to me,” he says. “The hard work had been done by the two separate companies working in different areas, so it was a matter of getting them both to see the advantage of synergy.”

Paul Vernel agrees. “I am very grateful to Geoff”. It didn’t take to long to see his ideas of the better business possibilities. He did a good job of working with the two companies in a respectful way and making the whole deal work for us both”.

“We now own six boats offering 106 seats and we are thinking of more and more ways to package them. Buying Alpine Jets includes the leasing of brand-new premises in Springfield, along with booking office and garage space, so there is a possibility of combination café in there – it may be a traveller’s last coffee until Arthur’s Pass! The new premises can even host a conference on site, so my head is full of new ideas,” he says


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