Shotover Jet fleet electrification one step closer

Oct 25, 2023

Prototype testing on Shotover Jet’s electric jet boat has been completed as the tourism operator moves ahead with the electrification of its fleet. 
Shotover Jet business manager Donald Boyer says boat design and infrastructure options are now being worked on.  
“We are adamant that want to do this… and we will,” he says. 
The electric jet boat will be the world’s first designed solely for tourism and is part of Te Kounga Paparangi, the climate change action plan steering Ngāi Tahu towards carbon-neutral by 2050. 
Queenstown-based Shotover Jet is owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism. It hosts about 180,000 manuhiri (visitors) a year, taking them on thrilling rides up and down the Kimiākau awa (Shotover River), which has been home to Ngāi Tahu ancestors for centuries. 
Boyer is excited by the progress his team is making and the potential of reducing the environmental footprint of the business. 
“Electric jet boat conversion is estimated to save 120 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. That is what 25 cars emit annually,” he says. 
Boyer explains the prototype phase was about testing how much power the boats would need.  
“There are many examples of electric boats around the world, but none of this size, or that offer this type of speed and performance” he says. 
One of the existing jet boats has been retrofitted as the prototype e-vessel. This means they are the same weight and hull size. The boat uses about 120kWh in 60 minutes; the same amount of energy that an average Kiwi home consumes in almost a week, says Boyer.  
He says the aim is for at least half of the jetboat fleet to be electrified by 2030. 
The next step in the electrification of the fleet is to decide on key design aspects of the boats and the support infrastructure onsite like charging, maintenance, and training. There is also a need to work with providers to ensure sufficient electricity is available. 
“At Ngāi Tahu Tourism, we are tackling the challenges climate change presents. We’re not daunted. It’s a long road but we’re innovative, determined, and guided by iwi value of kaitiakitanga. 
“We can’t wait to thrill that first group of manuhiri out on Kimiākau. Imagine ripping through the stunning canyons in a jetboat with reduced noise and the knowledge that you’re not emitting carbon dioxide.”  
Watch the jetboat prototype in action at Electric Jet Boat » Shotover Jet, and explore Te Kounga Paparangi: Climate Change - Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu ( 

Background - Te Kounga Paparangi 

  • Te Kounga Paparangi is the Ngāi Tahu climate change action plan.
  • It provides a roadmap for sustainability measures and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Its objective is to take the iwi to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Background – Electric Jetboat Prototype 

  • The four main components that form the electrical functionality are the battery packs, battery management system, power delivery, and electric motors.
  • Gasoline has an approximate energy density of 12,000Wh/kg, which is 100 times the energy density of Lithium based batteries which can store 100-265Wh/kg
  • Many of the components are common to petrol and electric boats, for example water jet units.
  • Initial water testing occurred on Lake Whakatipu in May 2022, following by tests on the Kimiākau (Shotover River) in June 2022.