© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Jet Boating in the Forgotten World

© NZPocketGuide.com

38 Days on the Road

If we felt like we were going fast yesterday using our own peddle-power on the RailBikes, today’s jet boating mission along the Whanganui River is going to blow our freakin’ minds!

But, like the calm before the storm, we begin our day working on the website and finishing off the laundry getting the last remains of feces off Robin’s clothes. (See yesterday’s post for that whole story). Admittedly, we are also over-indulging in staying in a motel for the first time in a long time. You know, drinking all the free tea, coffee and hot chocolate, lying on a double bed fit for a king, and eating the homemade baking that the housekeepers leave in our bedroom every day! How delightful!

Making ourselves windproof

Afternoon rocks around and we are heading to Cherry Grove in Taumarunui. This is a park just behind the town where the Ongarue and Whanganui rivers meet, and the launching area for Forgotten World Jet Tours. There’s plenty of signage from the centre of town to find our way to Cherry Grove, which is within walking distance.

Alan, our jet boat driver for the day, introduces himself and a local girl joining us on the tour, Olivia. Both seem to have a cool sense of humour, so we end up chatting for a while even before the jet tour begins. Alan drops hints of things to come on the jet boat trip by saying: “Is this jacket windproof?” and “This might even be beanie weather today.” Laura rushes back to the van to pick up the first beanie she could find: an awful one Robin picked up in Canada several years ago.

Our fastest jet boat ride yet!

Life jackets on, Allan gives us some quick safety instructions and we are off!

Ok, so we have both done jet boating trips in New Zealand before (take a look at 7 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand), but, my God, Forgotten World Jet Tours is the fastest speed we have ever done. The boat reaches speeds of 85km an hour! The wind is almost taking Laura’s beanie off her head (which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t be a bad thing). But screw it, she takes the beanie off and lets her hair whip in Robin in the face. He doesn’t seem to care because he can’t seem to stop laughing.


Spinning around and riding the rapids

We can tell that Alan has a lot of fun on this jet boat too – this isn’t just a job for him. He’s giving us a few sharp turns, getting us close to trees on the side of the river, weaving between rocks: anything we respond to, he does it. Because of all the rainfall we’ve had the last couple of weeks, the water level is pretty high, creating a few rapids here and there. The jet boat is blasting over them and we can feel ever bump beneath us. Who knew there were so many elements of fun to be had in a boat that just goes fast?!

The Whanganui River gives Allan a lot of space to play around in, including the famous 360-degree spins that make jet boats so awesome. No matter how many times the boat spins, we can’t help but “woop!” every time!

Fantasy scenery along the Whanganui

While jet boating is a thrilling way of taking on the Whanganui River, this river is actually extremely popular in summer for multi-day canoe trips. So much so that is has been named one of the Great Walks of New Zealand (despite you not walking in the trip). That’s mainly because this river and surrounding landscape is incredible. The first section of our trip starts with rolling grassy farmland, much like what we saw on the railway yesterday. There are farm animals dotting the landscape, from horses to sheep. The further downstream we go, the steeper the riverside gets, which doesn’t put the goats off as they are running about the near-vertical cliff faces.

A sign for the Whanganui National Park on the riverside is just one hint that we have entered the national park, but the dense native bush covering the riverside shows that this is a place left untouched. The Whanganui River is the longest navigable river in New Zealand, and the deeper into the national park you go, the more rugged and wild it gets, taking you to long forgotten relic of the past, such as the Bridge to Nowhere.

Going one way down the river was an amazing reveal of landscapes, but going back upstream as the sun is setting adds a whole new glow to the forest and hills. We swear we even catch some air taking the rapids on in the opposite direction!

Trading the jet boat for our snail-paced camper

Back at the shores of Cherry Grove, Alan shows us the engine of the jet boat with eight cylinders. Although this boat is pretty damn awesome, he is getting a new jet boat built and redesigned for next summer. (Which he insists we must come back and try). We can’t say no to that!

Leaving the Cherry Grove Domain in our campervan, we feel pretty sad at how slow we are going. It’s probably going to be a while before we experience jet boat speed again…

Our last night in the Forgotten World Motel involves making a plan for driving the Forgotten World Highway tomorrow. We’ll be staying in Tangarakau a.k.a The Ghost Town with the cousins of Bryce who we met yesterday. We’ll let you know how that goes tomorrow!

A 360 image of a jet boat doing a 360 spin: mind blown

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See you tomorrow, backpacker buddies!