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The Whanganui River (Te Awa Tupua) winds its way through Whanganui National Park with a distinctive rugged landscape of river valley systems, farm land and an almost complete cover of native lowland forest. Travelling by Jet Boat is the easiest way to access the famous 'Bridge to Nowhere' and the Forgotten World Adventures Jet Boat is skippered by locals who know the Awa, its narrow gorges, its rapids and its moods.

Ross at Cherry Grove

Farm Manager, Horseman and Jet Boat driver - tucked away on a 760 acre beef and sheep farm in the King Country, Ross Hill has been farming for 40 years, endurance horse riding since the eighties and behind the throttle of Jet Boats on the Whanganui Awa for five years. 

Home base is Hikumutu where he combines his love of farming with horses, endurance riding, Jet Boating and meeting new people.

“I’ve been doing the same job or 40 years, I enjoy it, I really love it, but I’m quite sociable, farming is very seasonal, a little bit like tourism, and tourism is my out, I like talking to people”

 

As an endurance competitor Ross has represented NZ and has worn the Silver Fern three times. Ross  worked buying and selling endurance  horses for one of the richest men in the world for 5 years, traveling to Dubai just one of the perks of the job. The horse business is how Ross first met Ian Balme, owner of Forgotten World Adventures (FWA). 

In 2016 the 6.2 litre FWA Jet Boat was built in Christchurch by Jet Boat specialists JetSeeker, christened Ongaruhe she is powered by a V8 Chevy engine, perfect for a bit of fast fun. 

“If there's a group and they all say yeah we want to get wet, then game on”

 

Ongaruhe carries up to 15 passengers and Ross explains that “she’s a little longer and wider than most boats so it sits quite high in the water, which is an advantage because you have more of a view”. Blessed by three Iwi, Ross says the FWA boat is a pleasure to drive. 

“I treat every customer the same, the people that are in the boat, I like to get to know them” of the Whanganui River and its history Ross says ``Some people want to know a little bit, some want to know lots and its finding that happy medium.”  

“You need to know the river and you need to know your limits, any rescue work on the river, I do that too, because I'm twenty minutes down the river already. With the trips it’s about  finding out about the people, it's the little things,  you take time to speak to people and find out who they are so every trip is unique, communication, that's the key.”

 

Dad of two Ross says travel is in the family, his daughter managed to get back home from Norway just before lockdown. For Ross lockdown meant “Missing that public connection and being on the river”.

Ross will be back with FWA come October and can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the Forgotten World Jet Boat, sharing stories, swapping laughs and of course, delivering all the thrills his passengers can handle.