In Which I Go On A Jetboat And Instantly Want To Die

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Huka Falls Jetboat ride thanks to my partnership with Tourism New Zealand. All opinions expressed in this article are my own.

When I agreed to join Dave on a half-hour jetboat ride, I genuinely had no idea what this would entail.

I mean, I had never even heard of a jetboat.

… And after being told it was just a reasonably fast boat that casually whizzes past pretty scenery on a calm river it sounded like something I’d probably enjoy. I mean, sure, my ridiculous motion sickness means I vomit every time I move but a boat ride on a river?

How bad could it possibly be?

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

We arrived at the Huka Falls Jet office and as we walked through the door, my jaw dropped. I was greeted with an enormous screen showing a jetboat racing down a terrifyingly narrow channel at 80km/h. The passengers were being thrown from side to side, the boat was avoiding rocks by mere centimetres.

What on earth had I gotten myself into?

With barely any time to comprehend what the next 30 minutes had in store for me, I soon found myself sitting nervously in the boat, wondering how soon it would be before I threw up over myself.

Our driver went through the safety briefing: “don’t stand up, don’t fall out, hold on tight. When I hold my finger in the air and draw a circle, we’re about to go into a 360 degree turn.”

Wait, what?


I think my awkward smile and vice-like grip on Dave’s hand in the photo below says everything about how I was feeling at that moment.

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

I instantly knew this was not going to be enjoyable.

I’ve never met anyone with motion sickness as bad as mine. I can’t spend more than 5 minutes in the ocean without feeling nauseous, swimming pools make me feel awful and even baths have made me feel terrible in the past.

My petrifying run-in with severe vertigo in Turkey last year left me even more paranoid about my body undergoing unnatural movements. The vertigo was caused by dislodged crystals in my inner ear — and once you have this happen once it’s extremely likely you’ll get it over and over again. I’ve been fortunate not to have had a single reoccurrence over the past 8 months, but I couldn’t help but worry that all of these high-speed turns were going to make my body very unhappy.

And then we started moving.

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

We accelerated sharply and began bouncing violently across the water, the engine roaring. I nervously glanced up at Dave, silently cursing his courage and lack of nausea upon seeing him grinning widely. I cringed as we raced towards the riverbank, screaming as we suddenly skidded to a stop before accelerating rapidly towards an island in the centre of the river.

I watched as our driver raised his finger in the air and began to slowly move it in a circle. I tightly gripped the bar in front of me, fighting the urge to leap forwards and bite his finger off. Anything not to have to go through this.


Before I could even prepare myself for what was coming, I found myself spinning sharply at a paralysingly fast speed.

As we came out of the turn, the entire jetboat was laughing, cheering and looking like they were having the time of their lives.

I wanted to jump off the side of the boat and swim back to the office.

With our friend positioned in the row in front of us, he had a perfect view of my overly expressive face and diligently made sure to record every single second of my terror over the next 30 minutes.

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

It wasn’t pretty.

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo
HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

And then I cried.

HukaFalls Jet boating in Taupo

I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be getting on a jetboat ever again.

I would just like to mention that Dave and everyone on the jetboat and what seems like everyone who has ever spoke of Huka Falls Jet online absolutely loved their jetboat experience. If you like fun then you’ll likely love jetboating. If you get travelsick you’ll probably enjoy it too as I wasn’t able to find a single report online of anyone ever feeling sick on a jetboat.

I guess I’m just pathetic special.


  1. Amanda
    May 2, 2013

    Oh my goodness, Lauren. I shouldn’t be laughing so hard… but those photos!!

    I’m sorry you had a traumatic jetboating experience. I personally love jet boats, but it sure doesn’t look/sound like you do!

    Kudos to always having an amusing story to tell, though. ;)

    • May 3, 2013

      I know. Aren’t they hilarious? :-)

      I don’t know how anybody could ever find that experience enjoyable ;-)

  2. Laura
    May 2, 2013

    Oh Lauren. I think I just wet myself a bit.

    But seriously, you’re really brave… I wouldn’t have enjoyed it and my face would be just like yours.

    Actually your face reminds me of mine the first time I got on a banana boat ride at a fairground, the one that swings almost right over on itself? Horrific. Needless to say I’m not a roller coaster fan, but a bloody banana boat, how bad could it be? BAD.

    Hope you’ve recovered! X

    • May 3, 2013

      YES! I remember going on a banana boat ride for the first (and last) time when I was a kid. Ugh, almost as bad as those teacups rides!

  3. May 2, 2013

    Best pictures ever.

    • May 3, 2013

      Aren’t they?!

  4. DebbZie
    May 2, 2013

    LOL!!! Sorry, Lauren but I can’t help laughing my head off while looking at your pictures. Those are great pictures ! I tried this jetboat in NZ and I can’t say I was happy either :p

    • May 3, 2013

      I start laughing every time I look at them!

      Ah, it made you feel sick too?

      • DebbZie
        May 3, 2013

        Yes! I’m very prone to motion sickness. My head was spinning the entire day after the ride :(

  5. May 3, 2013

    Oh no!! this is so good!!!!

    • May 3, 2013

      Pretty ridiculous, huh?

  6. May 3, 2013

    Once I had slept off my nausea I remember crying with laughter too! Best photos ever.

  7. Bianca
    May 3, 2013

    I get seasick on boats in the ocean but thankfully I’m fine on rivers. I can’t believe that you’d risk getting sick by going on that jetboat ride. You really look like you didn’t enjoy the experience.

    • May 3, 2013

      If I lived in fear of getting sick, I wouldn’t have ever left England! I get sick on bikes, in cars, on buses, trains, planes… And, as I said in the post, I didn’t know what a jetboat was when I agreed to do it.

      I’m also fine on boats on rivers, but boats that travel at 80km/h and suddenly spin 360 degrees, not so much.

  8. George
    May 3, 2013

    Isn’t going to New Zealand all about the extreme sports :)

    • May 3, 2013

      I went for the beautiful scenery :-)

  9. May 3, 2013

    I would be all over this adventure…but I also get terribly sea sick (never in the bathtub though). I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, but now you can say you’ve had a wild ride!

  10. Annette | Bucket List Journey
    May 3, 2013

    Oh Boy! The look on your face says it all! This is something I would love, but would definitely result in my husband puking in my lap ;)

  11. Torre – Fearful Adventurer
    May 5, 2013

    This looks like one of those before/after crack addition photo sequences.

  12. CeCe
    May 7, 2013

    I am a motion sickness puker, once puking 7 (yes SEVEN times) on a flight from LAX to New Zealand! I loved the jet boats in New Zealand though and did 3 of them! I was like the rest of the people on your boat and laughed hysterically after every spin. However I think I laughed harder at your photos than I did on the boat. They are priceless! I love how everyone on the boat has a face of joy on their faces while yours is a face of absolute terror!

  13. Hi Lauren, love the honesty and your storytelling of the less glamorous affairs of your travels!

  14. May 8, 2013

    Looks like such an adventure! Not sure I could do it myself (there are days I get motion sick just because I fell asleep with my head at the foot of the bed!)

    Glad you didn’t jump ship though! Now you have another crazy story to add to the rest :)

  15. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad
    May 8, 2013

    not even just gold: I would even say these are like Prozac pills.

    Maybe, oh maybe, if you posted more blog posts/photos like these Lauren, I would be cured from my depression.

    I mean, really.

  16. Katie
    May 8, 2013

    I like how the grandma-looking woman next to you and the little kid behind you seem to be having so much fun while your face is in a constant state of terror hahahaha. This looks like fun, now I definitely want to try it sometime!

  17. Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    May 11, 2013

    Bahaha.. OMG classic! I didn’t realized you could show terrified in so many facial expressions. LOL

  18. May 13, 2013

    Hahahahaha! Oh the photos just keep getting better towards the end! The third from last is my personal favourite.

  19. May 20, 2013

    Ha ha, love the fact that Dave is ALWAYS smiling and you are NEVER. Hilarious photos! :-)

  20. June 11, 2013

    Watching Dave smiling and you freaking out, priceless! LOL
    Safe travel guys :)

  21. Nigel
    July 31, 2013

    Been on that ride and it’s a real buzz. Although it’s absolutely tame compared to jetboating in the South Island – try the Kawarau River ride (bit toursity) or better yet the Matukituki River near Wanaka – now that ride is amazing, up a small mountain river in a small and rather beaten-up jetboat. Bouncing over logs and through water a couple of inches deep.

    • August 1, 2013

      Yeah, as I said, never going on one ever again :-)

  22. Deana
    October 6, 2015

    I personally love jet-boating and have done it in quite a few places including on the ocean. The one in Port Macquarie (NSW) is my favourite.

    Zip-lining on the other hand. Done it once wont do it again. If my family had got photos they would have been just as good as yours.

    Continue travelling and keep enjoying new experiences.

    • October 22, 2015

      Thanks, Deana! Always willing to try new things, and always hoping they don’t end as badly as jetboating! :-)

  23. Liz
    August 22, 2018

    Lauren…the big question is Did you throw up during the ride?..I going on a 5 Hour ride tomorrow.

    • September 15, 2018

      I didn’t, but I felt very nauseated for about six hours afterwards.