Starting up a new business and ensuring its success takes a
strong backbone, Dart River Jet founder Neil Ross can tell
He recalled a time ''on one of the early trips in the winter
of '89'' when the water was very low and he accidentally got
the jet-boat he was driving stuck on a sandbank and had to
carry three American customers from the boat to the shore.
He said he was a ''complete nervous wreck'' and after he
managed to get the boat stuck on the same bank on the way
back, he took the group of Americans to the hotel ''and I
shouted them, and I shouted them and I shouted them''.
''And by the time they left it was the best time they'd ever
He also remembered three Japanese tourists who had tried to
warn him, albeit in Japanese, his van was floating across the
marina and slowly sinking.
''That van was back in operation two days later.''
Mr Ross started the company, which operates from Glenorchy at
the top of Lake Wakatipu, in 1988 and sold it in 1996.
''Perhaps I should have, perhaps I shouldn't have.''
His has since moved from the area but was in Glenorchy for
the company's 25th anniversary, held at the Glenorchy Lodge
He was fortunate, he said, to have had a loyal following of
bed and breakfast operators, hotel operators and booking
agents who ''kept the supply coming''.
He learned to build jet-boats in his backyard in Fernhill and
in the early days he collected the customers, drove the boats
and was the mechanic.
''I was everything.''
By 1996 the company - with seven boats, nine full-time and
four part-time staff, three coaches and a ''significant''
annual turnover - attracted the eye of Shotover Jet, which
took over operations.
Ngai Tahu Tourism now owns the company.