Katoa jet boat rides are high-octane fun, no lie. Boost the experience with parasailing or tours to Mokoia Island or Manupirua Hot Springs and there's the whole package right there.
Handily located at the Rotorua lakefront, Katoa has something for everyone.
Just for the record, jet boat hair? It's a thing. You know how some people can still manage to look good if their hair is flattened by the wind and sticking up on one side? Not me I'm afraid. Even that mad scientist, Emmett, in the movie Back to the Future, looks better. Sigh. Some people have all the luck.
For thrills - hopefully not spills - this is a wow of a ride. There's nothing like speed, grunty engines and 360° turns with water spraying everywhere to get you laughing and feeling alive.
Those things aside, as you head out towards Mokoia Island, your driver will look for every which way to get that boat slamming into the water hard enough to rattle the bones in your backside. Then it's onto turns so tight you half-expect to end up as fish food. It might sound terrifying but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun.
Something unexpected were the periodic stops. The driver hat is tossed aside as the tour guide hat goes on.
That’s when you hear about various points of interest, local stories and other snippets of info, all imparted with a good degree of humour.
Although water does spray into the boat, you’re outfitted beforehand
with huge plastic coats to stop you getting wet. To finish off that gorgeous ensemble? A lovely fitted orange life jacket. Beautiful!
Apparently, if you're at the back of the boat, you're likely to get showered with a lot more water. (It's true, as I found out on my next ride.)
Kids don’t miss out either. If they can hold on tight they’re good to go. There you go, fun for all the family.
Book ½hr Katoa Jet Boat Tour >>
If your legs quiver at the thought of jumping out of a plane but
you'd still love to fly like a bird, parasailing is by far the best
alternative. You know you're limited in how high you can go and if anything untoward did manage to
happen (hasn't so far), well then, you'll splashdown in the water.
I didn’t get out to experience the parasailing because the wind got up, but, I did do it a number of years ago at Sun City, South Africa. Only difference was… South Africa!
Plus the boat was smaller and we finished by dropping into the water near the lake’s edge. That was fun. Don’t know that I’d like to do that here though. It's far too cold.
One word to describe parasailing 400ft up in the air would be ‘gentle’, another way would be to ‘float on’ (remember that song by the Floaters) except that you're floating on air.
Being so high up gives a totally different perspective of Rotorua. See if you can spot some of the numerous volcanic domes and Mt Tarawera in the distance on your 12min parasail.
If you're scared of heights, do it anyway. From all the accounts I've read about parasailing in general, it seems to be one of the few activities where it's not too much of a problem.
Take a friend and ride tandem or go the solo route. Children 10yrs and over can ride too.
This is an activity where weight matters. Minimum weight is 50kg with a maximum of 180kg.
Treat yourself and whip across the lake on a Katoa jet boat with the accompanying action from above, through the Ohau Channel and into Lake Rotoiti where the Manupirua Hot Springs are located.
Now get ready to melt. Six mineral pools of varying temperatures will have you turning boneless in no time. After that, shock yourself back to life by taking a flying leap into the lake or by using the water slide. Fun huh? For us adults it's like being a kid all over again, and don't we need that now and again? Life gets far too serious at times.
Put aside at least 2½hrs for the return boat ride and time at the hot springs. This tour requires a minimum of 4 passengers so contact the office if you have any difficulty booking. You'll need swimming gear of course and some cash if you want to buy anything at the small cafe. Change rooms and toilet facilities are onsite as well as picnic areas.
Recently, a 50min tour that includes the jet boat ride and 20mins on the multifaceted Mokoia Island has been added to K-Jet's list of experiences.
See more: Mokoia Island Tours >>
Address: Mataiawhea St, (off Lakefront Drive)
Phone: +64 7 343 7600
Freephone: 0800 538 7746
Hours: 9am-5pm daily (except for Christmas Day)