New Zealand, my Lonely Planet guide informs me, is the adventure capital of the world. Interestingly, second place goes to Switzerland, based on that country’s hectic adventure activities in Interlaken.
Little wonder then that adventure tourism is a component of the Welcome Aboard attractions line up. Thrillseekers is the name of the event and it is found at the historic Waiau River Bridge, about 10 km short of Hanmer Springs thermal village.
Many Canterbury visitors take the easy 90 minute drive to Hanmer, so Thrillseekers makes a good stopping place for an introduction to adventure.
Thrillseekers General Manager, Neil, is a long-time Hanmer guy. He describes the Welcome Aboard people as “Big time, real good’”.
Not many Adventure companies have six activities in the one spot, Neil tells me. Thrillseekers offers clay bird shooting, along with paintball (popular with stag parties), Bungy, River Rafting, Quad Biking and Jet Boating – which is the most popular.
”Thrillseekers is considered one of the top three Jet Boat rides in the country and we’ve even had it written in our visitors’ book that ours is better than the more renowned companies. The neat thing is going across shallow water – 1 foot deep!”
Neil sends me off to meet Daryl the Jet Driver for the day. I am soon fitted out with a life jacket and told to hang on tight for a hull-thumping 40 minutes, 13 km down river at 80 to 90 km/hr.
Daryl has one word for Jet Boating – “AWESOME”. He loves it and hopes it will never become “just a job”. I grip tightly as the boat skims close beside the rocky river bank. Daryl signals a 360 deg turn by waving a finger in a circle above his head. When we are still again he stands up and does a head count – funny guy. We do a few more fast spins offering variety to the ride. All too soon it is all over as we do a fast run beneath the Thrillseekers balcony for a photo. I stay with Daryl while he does a pick up for the Bungy jumpers. He chats away about Jet Boating and the wonderful Waiau river environment. His enthusiasm is delightfully contagious.