Etablished in 1968 … legends!

Wilkin River Jets offer wilderness adventure 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.

Situated within the famed World Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park, the wilderness region of Makarora lies between Lake Wanaka and the Haast Pass. The region has a rich history and was known to Maori as Kaika Paekai (the place of abundant food). Today’s visitors can easily appreciate why the Makarora Valley provided such a special resting place for Maori, whilst traveling to the west coast in their quest for highly valued pounamu or greenstone.

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 helicopter and 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.

“gotta do it”…….. See you soon!


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.


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.

Senior Driver/Helicopter Pilot

Hayden Blackburn

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.


Helicopter flight and jet boat. Beautiful scenery. Thrilling heli flight and jet boat trip.- both exhilarating experiences. Undoubted safety and great service by pilot, jet boat driver and reception staff. Highly recommend.

A wicked family trip that im sure the kids will chat about for a very long time

Had to send an email to express what a terrific time we had on our trip, we are all still buzzing, the helicopter flight, the walk and the jet boat ride was such a brilliant combination to experience your part of the world which is positively stunning! Thanks for your help organising etc, you made it very easy to put together a wicked family trip that im sure the kids will chat about for a very long time, actually everyone is keen to go again and stay an extra night! - RR

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