BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM

BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM

BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM 1000 707 The Flyer Magazine

U-Drive Boats

In December, 1957, a new venture started on Queenstown Bay. Dick Rout and his wife, Clarice, arrived from Hamilton to start a company called U-Drive Boats. Having seen a similar operation working well on Lake Okataina, near Rotorua, they decided that Queenstown would be the ideal place for a South Island operation. The business consisted of seven small power boats that could be hired from a wharf near St Omer Park. The boats proved to be a popular addition to the activities that visitors could participate in, and the enterprise ran from 1957 until the mid-1970s when it was sold to the Miller brothers at Lake Wānaka.

“For a pound or so in those days, for half an hour, you could drive a boat, and it was a very professional factory-built little boat… anyone else that owned a boat in those days was a very wealthy person. They were built in an aircraft style. Solid shank, counter sunk riveting, like the fuselage of an aeroplane. They were designed by Saunders Row, the flying boat people… they were powered by a flat-head Ford 100E 10-horsepower engine.”
Dick Rout

The Routs’ U-Drive boats could be considered one of the first true ‘adventure tourism’ activities in the area.

“I think that if I was to do it again, then I would not do it. I would be too scared. We arrived here with nothing… I think today we would be too scared to take that gamble.”
Dick Rout

Lakes District Museum is open every day from 10am to 4pm.

The Lakes District Museum’s next exhibition is Wakatipu High School’s “Showing Off”. It runs from the May 27 until July 4. Expect some ‘Excellence’ in painting, design and photography from this bunch of talented, young up and coming artists.

Lakes District Museum Logo

U-Drive jet boats at Frankton Arm.

Photos – Lakes District Museum.