NZ Firsts: First Jet Boat

Jet boating came into being through the inventive genius of New Zealand CWF (Bill) Hamilton, who was looking for a means of boating on the swift, shallow rivers of the South Island high country where he farmed. Bill Hamilton developed the concept of the jet boat when he ruled out as impractical the use of a conventional external propeller and instead devised the revolutionary internal impeller which provided through its design both propulsion and manoeuvrability.

In 1953 the jet boat was officially born and in 1964 the forerunners of the Shotover Jet began running the first commercial trips on the Shotover River near Queenstown.

Hamilton loved speed. The free flowing Mackenzie Country Rivers were his pulse and challenge. As a four year old he discovered he couldn’t trap the tide in a glass jar, but that didn’t stop him trying to take on the currents; studying, testing, and designing solutions that harmonised the natural with the industrial. From his home-grown jet propulsion laboratory on the Waitaki and its tributaries, Bill Hamilton brought the jet age to the water, then took it to the world.