Our History


An extract from pioneering jet boater Guy Mannering.

The shallow braided streams of the Canterbury’s shingle rivers provided Bill Hamilton with a challenge. This inventive and adventurous sportsman – engineer responded by advancing the Archimedes creation of a water screw in a tube, refining it in early stages to become a powerful locomotion force, which unlike a propeller, was contained within the boat and enabled high speed progress over the shallowest waters.

 Since about 1953, first a trickle of admirers, then a flood of enthusiasts became equipped with Hamilton jets from the Christchurch factory. By 1957 boats were to be found throughout New Zealand, adventuring far into the rougher reaches of rivers and enjoying the remarkable and unique properties of the new water jet propulsion. The boats were almost all of wooden construction, which proved of limited value when in inevitable collision with rocks and the watercourse.

The fortunate appearance of fibreglass [circa 1958] pioneered more resilient hulls which could be mass produced hugely advancing the greatly expanding ownership, and preparing for the ultimate building by the 1970’s of metal hulls intended to be a match for the solid encounters in the waterways.

An Association of owners of jetboats formed the New Zealand Jet Boat Association in 1962 with a foundation membership of 58 owners. The number has increased to about 2,000 at this time.

Similar Associations of jetboaters have formed in many countries around the world to address the many varieties of jet propelled vessels, wet bikes, jet-skis, pleasure craft, racing and marathon boats. The remarkable maneuverability of jet propulsion has attracted fishing vessels and high speed ferries, and is now universally accepted as propulsion in large vessels domestic and military.

Bill Hamilton’s remarkable contribution to marine propulsion has seen the jet universally employed and exploited by many nations, and in craft of many types and size. His achievements in engineering and his valuable services to manufacturing were recognised in June 1974 by his knighthood in that year’s Queens Birthday honours.

Sir William Hamilton, Patron of the New Zealand Jet Boat Association, died in March 1978. Lady Hamilton accepted the invitation to continue patronage, and on her death in 1986 their son Jon, a foundation member took over the roll until his death in 2009. Today, prominant jet boater Phil Keisanowski is the Patron of the rebranded Jet Boating New Zealand.


Early Hamilton Jets


Below are some of the early Hamiton Jet Units. Find out more information about these Jets and their newer models by clicking here.

The Quinnat (1954-56)

The Rainbow (1956)

The Chinook (1957-63)

The Colorado (1963)