Jet Boating on the Whanganui River

Jet Boating on the Whanganui River
Jason Nockels

Written by Jason Nockels

The Whanganui River is steeped in history, culture and natural beauty. It might be home to some of the highest rainfalls in the country but that’s no reason not to visit. Kayaking trips, walking to the Bridge to Nowhere, biking and taking a spin in a jet boat are all amazing ways to experience the area. In fact, this area is so beautiful that it’s one of the Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, even though it’s a river! That will tell you why you should incorporate Whanganui into your New Zealand road trip.

First time

The jet boat is a Kiwi invention and what an invention it is. These things cut through the water like you wouldn’t believe; they move so quickly and can turn on a penny. Exploring the Whanganui River is definitely a unique way to experience the area and that’s exactly how we decided to do it. We had never been on a jet boat before and would highly recommend it to anyone. They move quickly but are incredibly stable and can travel over water that is only a few centimeters deep!

Whanganui River Adventures

Ken and Josephine, operators of Whanganui River Adventures, know this area inside out. Ken was our jet boat driver for the day and in between flying through the immense gorges, he filled us in on the history of the area. He told us of the Maori people who live in the area, about the wildlife, the flora and stories of days gone by. Be sure to check out the old photos of their family in the office. If you ask Josephine, she’ll be sure to tell you all about the generations of her family who have lived off the river here.

Hold on tight

While skimming across the surface of the Whanganui River is an incredible feeling, it’s the turns that will really get your heart pumping. When Ken makes a spinning motion, hold on tight and get ready for a full three hundred and sixty degree turn on the water. It’s the equivalent of a handbrake turn in a car – so much fun and it adds a whole other element to the experience.

Reaching the area

Pipiriki is in quite a remote area and is well off the main road. However, the drive through the bush is beautiful, especially if you have good weather. Driving by motorhome is definitely one of the best ways to arrive to the Whanganui River, just take it handy on the roads in and out of Pipiriki. The roads can sometimes be sealed in bad weather, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather, which can be very changeable. Give Ken and Josephine a call the day before to check the conditions and keep your fingers crossed it’s good because this is a Kiwi experience you don’t want to miss out on!

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Jet Boating on the Whanganui