Discovering the gifts of the Rakaia Gorge

Friday, 17 December 2021

Discovering the gifts of the Rakaia Gorge

Growing up in Darfield, Blair Grice enjoyed hunting and fishing in Rakaia Valley’s beautiful lakes, rapid rivers and high country hills.

Blair now shares his beloved hobbies, showing people his favourite fishing spots, why he loves jet boating on the Rakaia River and offering them hunting experiences.

Blair works as a hunting guide for NZ Trophy Safaris in the Rakaia Gorge, specialising in free range hunting at multiple private land stations and on DOC land sites.

If hunting is not your thing, then get your adrenalin pumping on one of Blair’s Discovery Jet jet boat rides, or cast your fishing rod into the crystal waters of the Rakaia River.

Fishing and boating in selwyn

Blair owns and operates Discovery Jet, offering salmon, trout and fly fishing and 15, 30 , or 45 minute jet boat rides in a 10 seater Hamilton Jet or 22 seater Cobra Hull.

Blair recommends the 45 minute jet boat ride because it takes you through the centre of the Rakaia Gorge, through braided channels towards high country with stunning views of Mt Hutt and the Southern Alps.

He says his favourite thing about the Rakaia River, one of New Zealand’s most iconic glacial river, is its ever changing landscape, making it perfect for jet boating.

“Being a glacial river that has many floods every year it is an ever changing beast. It offers boating of all types, but equally has some great technical boating in the upper braids where one wrong turn can see you run out of water very quickly!”

This dynamic river can make fishing a challenge for some, but because Blair is often jet boating on the water, he is constantly looking for the best fishing spots.

“I know the river like the back of my hand, we are always one step ahead.”

Salmon and trout fishing

The Rakaia River teems with trout and salmon from November onwards, after they come in from the ocean to spawn. Blair takes his customers out on the jet boat to catch these fish. The nature of fishing means catching a fish is never guaranteed, but so far Blair has had a 100% success rate with his half day, full day and overnight stay fishing options.

“I pride myself in offering the best and giving the client an entertaining day out. I can happily say I have never had a customer walk away unsatisfied in all these years.”

Jet Boating in selwyn

Starting as a jet boat driver for Discovery Jet in 2009, Blair eventually bought the business in 2012. In 2008, two companies merged to form Discovery Jet, one created by Terrace Downs which bought out another company, operating as River Tours Limited.

Blair says Discovery Jet has always focused on local tourism, but with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic they have really aimed at growing the domestic market and supporting the Selwyn community.

“We have stayed busy without international customers and a lot of this is word of mouth which in my view, is the best form of marketing you can get. We also try to help all local schools and groups for fundraising. This helps them a lot and I'm sure it comes back and helps us as families from these groups support us.”

Keeping it local, a new jet boat for Discovery Jet is being built in West Melton by Jetseeker. Blair says Jetseeker has played a big role in supporting them with their journey, “talking anything boats” and giving great maintenance advice.

Showcasing the best of the Rakaia

Once the international borders open again, Blair says he is hoping to turn the Rakaia Gorge into a travel hotspot.

Located on the north side of the Rakaia Gorge Bridge, Blair believes he has the best office in the world.

“I wake up and enjoy the challenge every day of doing something that makes the business better, growing the reputation and putting a smile on people’s faces. I love Selwyn. I now raise my three kids here and can't see anywhere else becoming home.”

For jet boating and fishing, book online or by phoning 0800 JET BOAT (5382628). Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a jacket and don’t forget your camera! Safety gear, and life jackets are provided. Fishing equipment is also provided, but you can also bring your own gear.

For hunting packages, book online at Discovery Jet, NZ Trophy Safaris or call 021 538386.

Want to stay longer? There’s horse-riding, archery and clay target shooting combos, the beautiful Rakaia Gorge walk and accommodation available in the area. Read more at Selwyn NZ or book one of Discovery Jet’s combos.

Book with Discovery Jet
Back to Articles