Upgrades a shot in the arm

Shotover Jet central maintenance officer Brett Dingle in one of the new boats.
Shotover Jet central maintenance officer Brett Dingle in one of the new boats.

Shotover Jet hopes a range of technological advances will cut fuel costs and increase its customer numbers.

The company has spent 18 months finetuning its new fleet of seven V8 Mercruiser-powered boats and aims to slash 5 per cent of its fuel usage.

Shotover Jet central maintenance officer Brett Dingle said the new boats, which are all expected to be on the water by Christmas, included a modified pedal that would make it more difficult for drivers to use the last 20 per cent of the power available to them.

"Fuel is one of our biggest costs . . . any saving we can do saves us and we're not pumping so much carbon into the air.

"From a safety point of view and for turns they can still use it . . . but it's too stiff for them to constantly rest their foot on."

As well as avoiding unnecessary use of fuel, the new engines would enable Shotover Jet to stop using 98-octane fuel, which had become exceptionally difficult to obtain since the Christchurch earthquakes.

Being the only users in the area, the company had no option but to have its fuel delivered, which could be nerve-racking during busy times, when there was a risk it could run out, he said.

The company had also done a lot of work on the seats, and drivers and passengers could expect a more comfortable ride in future.

Bench seats had been replaced with individually moulded seats and the new driver seats had been custom designed by the company after four imported products failed to live up to expectations.

"We've removed about 30 per cent of the shock load from passengers . . . it's a fine balance because we don't want to take the customers' experience away," he said.

Sales and marketing manager Nigel Kerr said the use of new video technology, which enabled the company to record from five vantage points on and off the boat, had already resulted in a huge increase in the number of people uploading their videos to the internet.

Before last month, the company was averaging one upload a month on YouTube but now it was seeing three new clips added each week, he said.

"If we can get people bragging and sharing their trip it is only going to get more people back to Queenstown and coming here."

The Southland Times