Shotover Jet giving free rides to Queenstown's essential workers

Dane and Stacey
Just 10 minutes from Queenstown city centre is the iconic Shotover Jet.

About 250 of Queenstown’s essential workers are being given free jet boat rides in recognition of their work during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Shotover Jet jet boat operations general manager Jolanda Cave​ said the Ngāi Tahu-owned company hoped the gesture would brighten the day of those working through the crisis.

The rides were offered to 18 essential service organisations in Queenstown including medical services, supermarkets, education facilities, and emergency response and transport providers.

Each organisation was offered rides for up to 14 staff as well as transport to and from their place of work.

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About 250 of Queenstown’s essential workers will get free Shotover Jet rides.
Supplied/Stuff
About 250 of Queenstown’s essential workers will get free Shotover Jet rides.

The total value of the rides was more than $30,000.

Cave said giving back as much as possible is a huge part of the iwi values that Shotover Jet stands for.

“We always strive to make authentic connections with our customers and with our local community. Manaakitanga (hospitality) is one of our core values that drives the way we conduct our business.

“We want to care for everyone we host as we would our own whānau.”

The company is also bringing back its popular Locals Day on November 27, after it was cancelled in 2020.

Trips for local adults and children would be discounted to $49 each. Individual passes are usually $129 for an adult and $67 for a child.

When Covid-19 first hit New Zealand the company went into hibernation laying off 300 staff.
Supplied/Stuff
When Covid-19 first hit New Zealand the company went into hibernation laying off 300 staff.

Shotover Jet and the other Ngāi Tahu tourism businesses went into hibernation in 2020 with the workforce reduced from 348 to 39 kaimahi (employees). Ngāi Tahu Holdings received $3.14m in wage subsidies across its commercial division – Tourism, Oha and Oha Owhaoko – to help the businesses retain staff.

In July this year, it announced it repaid more than $2.4 million.

Two weeks ago, the iwi’s investment arm posted a record $240 million profit for the year to June 30, bouncing back from a $25.6m loss a year earlier.

At the time Ngāi Tahu Holdings chairman Mark Tume​ said the tourism businesses had experienced “what could only be described as a brutal year”.

“But look, if you have no customers you essentially have no business, and that’s been the case for us with the international customer tap being turned right off.”

Tume singled out the Hukafalls​ Jet in Taupō and Shotover Jet in Queenstown for their performance during the year.