New Zealand Licenses First 10 Jet Boat Drivers

These are the first to obtain a license since a new requirement for training and ongoing competency checks for all drivers was enacted in the country.

Ten jet boat drivers are the first group to obtain licenses now required in New Zealand, the agency Maritime New Zealand reported Aug. 17. This initial group received their licenses that day from New Zealand Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Maritime New Zealand Deputy Director Lindsay Sturt.

One of the newly licensed drivers works for Goldfields Jet, which operates 364 days a year inside the Kawarau gorge. (Goldfields Jet photo, www.goldfieldsjet.co.nz/)The license and ongoing competency checks for all drivers are required by Maritime Rule Part 82: Commercial Jet Boat Operations – River, which took effect Aug. 2. It requires all commercial jet boat drivers working on rivers to have the license and their employers to establish the competency checks. A driving test is not required.

"It's important to balance the thrill factor that attracts passengers from all over the world, with appropriate safety and driver training measures," Sturt said. "Jet boating is an iconic activity for New Zealand and an important part of the adventure tourism industry. The support we've seen from operators for this rule change is a strong indication of just how seriously they take the well-being of passengers."

According to Maritime New Zealand, the country's jet boating industry has 42 operators who carry more than 370,000 passengers per year. The 10 licensed drivers are:

  • Danyel Hutton – Wilkin River Jet
  • Brent Pihama – Wanaka Jet Limited
  • Brian Willows – Skipper’s Canyon Jet Limited
  • Hamish Egerton – Goldfields Jet (2003) Limited
  • Shayle Thompson – Dart River Jet Safaris
  • Fraser Gordon – Kawarau Jet Services Holdings Limited
  • Ronald Cooper – Southern Alps Air Limited
  • Wayne Paton – Shotover Jet (Queenstown) Limited
  • Simon Stewart – Lakeland Adventures Limited (Clutha River Jet)
  • Neville Kelly – Queenstown Water Taxis Limited (Thunderjet)

Drivers from other operators may apply for a transitional license, which will be issued if they have a safe driving record and are "fit and proper persons" as defined by the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

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