4 Jul 2020

Tours begin to operate gradually in time for school holidays

8:20 pm on 4 July 2020

One of Ngāi Tahu Tourism's biggest attractions, the Shotover Jet, has reopened.

Five people were taken to hospital when the jet boat they were in hit a rock.

The Shotover Jet. Photo: 123RF

It is one of 11 Ngāi Tahu Tourism businesses which were all forced into temporary closure in March because of Covid-19 restrictions.

More than 300 Ngāi Tahu tourism jobs were cut at the beginning of May.

However, six of its 11 businesses are now up and running again at a reduced capacity.

Following a karakia by Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Tuarua Matapura Ellison, the Shotover Jets were back on the water on Friday.

Ngāi Tahu Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio said it was great to be able to take customers through the canyons once again.

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult was on the first jet boat ride of the day.

"It's great to have it up and running again; it's a good sign for the district to see it back in business. Red boats, white water, smiling faces - always good to see," Boult said.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism's stargazing tourism attraction Dark Sky Project in Takapō (the name Ngāi Tahu ancestors used for Tekapo) has also reopened, with four additional staff employed.

However, its Crater Experience would only be open from Thursday to Monday, the retail store only on weekends and the rest of its astronomy experiences, Dark Sky Diner and Astro Cafe would remain closed.

Dark Sky Project board chair Graham Kennedy said the reduced operation was a starting point and the board would continue to assess conditions for reopening its wider operations.

"We are delighted that visitors to Takapō will have the opportunity to enjoy an incredible stargazing experience, right in the heart of some of the world's purest night skies and just in time for the school holidays."