Jet boat driver's licence introduced
JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
Licensing for New Zealand commercial jet boat drivers was officially introduced yesterday in Queenstown, where the thrill-seeking industry was born in the 1960s.
Associate transport minister Simon Bridges handed out licences to 10 jetboat drivers from Queenstown, Wanaka, Te Anau and Makarora - the first commercial licensing in the world.
It follows years of work by Maritime New Zealand, the Tourism Industry Association and the Commercial Jet Boat Association.
Makarora-based Danyel Hutton, 24, is believed to be the first female commercially licensed jet boat driver in the world.
She works for Wilkin River Jets and said company policy mandated 80 hours' test driving before commercial trips.
Maritime NZ stipulated a minimum of 50 hours but she completed about 100 hours, Ms Hutton said.
People were often surprised when she told them what she did for a job.
"A lot of them don't believe me, it's quite good to be able to prove it. Everybody is quite pleased to see a girl out there getting amongst it."
Mr Bridges said the introduction was a licensing first for New Zealand and the world.
He said all the risks were taken into account and licensing balanced the expected thrill factor with public safety.
New Zealand could offer jet-boating leadership to other countries, he said.
"You have a competency test, a fit and proper person test . . . making sure overseas tourists feel that there are proper processes in place when they get on board."
Maritime NZ deputy director Lindsay Sturt said the industry's 49 operators already adhered to good safety standards.
"Drivers are all trained and what this does is recognise the training they have in place to assure the public we are serious about safety."
Mr Sturt also presented a plaque to Queenstown Lakes District Council harbourmaster Marty Black for his services during more than three decades.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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