Today we continue the series of articles about rare occupations in New Zealand tourism industry, and our interlocutor is a jet boat driver, member of KJet team, 23 years old Hamish Try.
When and why did you become a jet boat driver?
I started employment with KJet in mid-December 2017 after I was in search of a more challenging role, and stumbled upon this position.
What is your background?
I moved from Europe (Born in England) at the age of 9, and was raised in Wellington, attending Kapiti College just out of the capital of New Zealand. I made a move to Queenstown in 2015 at the age of 18 to attend Queenstown Resort College. During my time, I gained a Diploma in Adventure Tourism Management and knowledge in the operation of adventure tourism companies. I spent a year and a half working for Nomad Safaris as a 4WD Guide and Quad Bike Instructor/Guide, from there I made a move to KJet.
What characteristics must a candidate have to become a jet boat driver?
You should be outgoing, confident, quick thinking, responsible, committed, focused on safety and risk assessment, able to handle stressful situations.
How do they train prospective Jet boat drivers? How many rides without passengers must a student have before starting commercial rides?
Upon employment, a driver must complete a minimum of 50 hours of supervised and unsupervised driving before taking a theory and practical test with the local Harbour Master. There are many areas a training driver must learn, from the general operation of the jet boat, to reading a braided river system and understanding what to do in emergencies. Once the driver has completed these hours and passed the tests, then the driver will start carrying paying passengers.
Tell us about your first ride with passengers. How was it? What did you feel?
My first trip with paying passengers I had mixed emotions, I was excited but also nervous. Standing and talking in front of customers was not a foreign practice to me, but I believe I had sufficient training and practice to provide a great first trip. My customers provided awesome feedback.
How many rides per day do you make on average?
The number of trips per day has a few variables. It depends on how many people go jet boating on the day, the season and how many drivers we have rostered on for the day. In the height of summer, we can expect to make up to 6-7 one hour trips a day, whereas in winter we can expect to do 2-3 in a day, with shorter operating hours.
What do you love and hate most at your daily job?
There's nothing to hate driving jet boats for a day job, some conditions can be off-putting (wind, rain), but the great feedback we receive from customers is a definite highlight.
What is your advice for people who want to acquire the same occupation? If you have a need for speed, a passion for entertaining, and putting a smile on peoples faces, then this is the job for you, all the while getting paid to do it!