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About Us

Etablished in 1968 … legends!

Wilkin River Jets offer wilderness adventures and discovery within the beautiful Makarora region of New Zealand.

Known as the ‘timeless land’, Makarora is a truly special place with stunning snow-capped mountains, ancient river valleys, pristine native rainforests, and fast-flowing wilderness rivers. A place where time has truly stood still, but discovery and adventure continue to beckon.

Operating since 1968, Wilkin River Jets are pioneers of shallow water jet boating and wilderness discovery in New Zealand.

Wilkin River Jets owners Danyel and Alec Watson have a long family history with the Makarora area. Starting with the region’s early settlers and then family succession in March 2022 they took the plunge and purchased Wilkin River Jets. Their connection to this ‘timeless land’ is reflected in their commitment to delivering a world-class eco-tourism product within this truly awe-inspiring landscape. Their expert local knowledge and passion for the New Zealand backcountry ensure visitors enjoy a wilderness experience like no other.

Our jetboat base is situated at Makarora on the Haast Pass Highway (SH 6), between Lake Wanaka and Fox Glacier. This is where the activities depart from.

We pride ourselves on our extensive local knowledge and can-do attitude, with a talent for tailor-making great activities for people from NZ and around the world.

In 2021, our most loved employee died in a tree felling accident. He had worked for us for 10 years prior. 

“gotta do it”…….. See you soon!

Meet the Team

About Wilkin River Jets Makarora Danyel

Danyel Watson


Danyel has a strong affinity with Makarora and the West Coast. Her love of the mountains and wilderness have lead her into her current role as Director/Owner and Senior Jet Boat driver. Her passion for the region is matched with her infectious sense of humour and her commitment to ensuring visitors leave with a true sense of Makarora. She lives in Makarora with her husband Alec and their two boys, Max and Ollie. Danyel and Alec own and operate Wilkin River Jets.


Alec Watson


A farmer in a previous life, Alec is now is now several seasons into a busy tourism life. While farming is still his passion, over the summer months you will find him on the water. He is also our mechanic, fencing contractor and owner of Wilkin River Jets. Alec lives in Makarora with his wife Danyel and two boys, Max and Ollie.

About Wilkin River Jets Makarora Harley Nz

Harley Lawson

Operations Manager

You will see Harley in his happy place out on the water or in the mountains.  Harley is your ultimate outdoors man. He is a very skilled jet boat driver with an impressive background skippering and guiding through out New Zealand.  Harley, his wife Clare and dog Karma enjoy trail running, biking, skiing and spending time with friends and family.

A special mention.


Hayden Blackburn


In 2021 our most loved employee died in a tree felling accident; he had worked for us for 10 years prior. Hayden is remembered for his love of hunting and sense of adventure. Hayden’s great sense of humour and passion for the outdoors was evident in his work ethic and capabilities as an entertaining and skilled Guide, Jet Boat Driver and Helicopter Pilot. Fly High HB! Always in our thoughts.