Inquiry after nine hurt in Skippers jet boat crash

The boat was operated by Skippers Canyon Jet. Image: YouTube/file
The boat was operated by Skippers Canyon Jet. Image: YouTube/file

An investigation is under way after nine people were injured in a jet boat crash on Queenstown's Shotover River in Skippers Canyon.

About 10 people, several of whom were tourists, were on the boat when it crashed into rocks while riding the river at 10.08am.

A St John ambulance spokesperson said a rescue helicopter was sent to the scene to transfer nine patients to Lakes District Hospital, as it was difficult to get to by road. She said they had minor injuries.

Skippers Canyon Jet marketing manager Gavin Larsen said the group were roughly half way through the trip down the river when the incident occurred.

The boat made contact with some rocks, he said, which brought it to a stop.

"The worst injury is a suspected broken leg ... the rest of the injuries are primarily bumps and bruises."

Jim Boult
Jim Boult
Larsen said several passengers were part of a group of tourists from Thailand.

Two were tourists from Canada - one of whom was a middle-aged woman whose leg could be broken. She had been transferred from Lakes District Hospital to Dunedin Hospital.

One of the 10 people onboard was the skipper - an employee of Skippers Canyon Jet.

The company's commercial boat rides would be suspended until an investigation is complete and when the company had determined what happened. Larsen said the investigation could start tomorrow.

A witness at the scene said the accident appeared to have happened about 200 metres downstream of the Skippers Canyon suspension bridge.

"It looks like it was a substantial accident."

The witness said it was a beautiful, hot day in Queenstown, with a bit of cloud overhead.

The Skippers Canyon is a popular jet boating area. Photo: Getty Images
The Skippers Canyon is a popular jet boating area. Photo: Getty Images
Queenstown Lakes District Council mayor Jim Boult said jet boat rides on the Shotover River were immensely popular with tourists.

"Jet boating is synonymous with Queenstown. I couldn't tell you exact numbers but I'd imagine an excess of a couple of hundred thousand people a year would undertake one of the activities on the river."

Boult said his first concern was for those involved.

"I'm sure the appropriate bodies are looking after the welfare of those people. The second concern is to ensure the accident is thoroughly investigated - I'm sure we'll run a very thorough investigation into that."

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission had been notified of the accident, as had Maritime New Zealand.

The Commission today confirmed it had begun an investigation.

"The circumstances reported to date are that a jet boat crashed at about 10am today in Skippers Canyon, and that nine people received serious, moderate and minor injuries," a statement read.

"The Commission has appointed a team of investigators, and they are preparing to go to the accident site as soon as practicable."



These jet boats are such a burden on nature with their noise and destruction of fresh water life that it would be great if they were decommissioned.