Shotover River

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Shotover River / Kimi-ākau
Shotover Jet, Jet Boating the Shotover River Canyons, Queenstown, New Zealand.jpg
Jet boating the Shotover River canyons
CountryNew Zealand
Physical characteristics
 • location
Kawarau River
 • elevation
290 m (950 ft)
Length75 km (47 mi)
The Shotover Jet

The Shotover River is located in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand.[1] The name correctly suggests that this 75-kilometre (47 mi) long river is fast flowing, with numerous rapids. The river flows generally south from the Southern Alps on its journey running through the Skippers Canyon, draining the area between the Richardson Mountains and the Harris Mountains, before flowing into the Kawarau River east of Queenstown.

The Edith Cavell bridge crosses the river at Arthurs Point.

Tourist operations[edit]

Shotover River, 2013

Gold mining featured in its early history and it was one of the richest gold-bearing rivers in the world. Beginning in 1862 when gold was first discovered on the river at Arthurs Point, the river has been panned, cradled, sluiced and dredged. Today small-time gold seekers still work the river and two of its tributaries, Moke and Moonlight Creeks, for gold.[2] It is now a popular river for tourism.

The river is used for commercial white water rafting trips and jet boating rides which operate out of the nearby tourist resort of Queenstown. There is also a canyon swing site on the river a short distance upriver from Arthurs Point. Three jet boat operators have rights to use the river, as do two rafting companies. Much of the land that surrounds the Shotover River, upstream from Arthurs Point, is now foreign-owned by Robert Lange, the former husband of singer Shania Twain.


The river was named Shotover by the first European, William Gilbert Rees to settle on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in 1860. He named it after his business partner, George Gammie's English estate, Shotover Park. The river had been previously called Tummel by two Scottish pioneers named Donald Angus Cameron and Angus Alphonse Macdonald who had passed through the area before Rees arrived. It was also referred to as the Overshot by the early goldminers, but it was the name Shotover that stuck,[3][better source needed][4] The Māori name for the river is Kimi-ākau which means looking for the coast which is probably a reference to the area as a route to the West Coast in search of Pounamu.[5]

Oxenbridge Tunnel[edit]

The Oxenbridge Tunnel at Arthurs Point is a 170-metre (560 ft) tunnel that was part of a failed mining scheme by the Oxenbridge brothers, attempting to divert water from the river to recover gold from the riverbed. It was registered as a Category II Historic Place in 1985,[6] and is used by rafters and kayakers. There is a Department of Conservation track called the Oxenbridge Tunnel Track that goes from the Edith Cavell Bridge alongside the Shotover River to a place near the Oxenbridge Tunnel.


In July 1991 and June 1992 the river froze from bank-to-bank, near Skippers Canyon, and car-tyre sized blocks of ice disrupted tourist activities in July 2007.[7]

Also in 2012 large parts of the river froze after a series of cold days which also affected commercial operators.[8]


  1. ^ "Place name detail: Shotover River". New Zealand Gazetteer. New Zealand Geographic Board. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  2. ^ Walrond, Carl. "Gold and gold mining - Shotover River". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  3. ^ Gerald Garrick Cunningham - published Otago historian
  4. ^ "Shotover in New Zealand". 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Skippers" (PDF). Department of Conservation. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Mining Tunnel". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  7. ^ Wolfe, Felicity (2 February 2009). "Shotover River may freeze, says forecaster". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  8. ^ Leanne, Malcolm. "Cold snap freezes Queenstown tourism". Business. © 2013 MediaWorks TV. Retrieved 9 March 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°48′29″S 168°44′11″E / 44.807949°S 168.736278°E / -44.807949; 168.736278