First solo Jet Ski lap of New Zealand completed by Australian adventurer

The first man to lap mainland Australia – and Tasmania – solo on a Jet Ski has dodged cyclones and battled mammoth ocean swells to complete the first solo Jet Ski ride around New Zealand.

An Australian man has completed the unprecedented trifecta of riding a Jet Ski solo around mainland Australia, the island of Tasmania – and, as of this week, circumnavigating the north and south islands of New Zealand.

Riding the same 2017 Kawasaki Ultra LX he used on the Australian missions, Adelaide man Lindsay Warner, 64, has now added a lap of New Zealand to his list of solo Jet Ski records.

The Jet Ski adventurer took 9 days on the water to lap the South Island and 12 days on the water to lap the North Island.

Lindsay Warner dodged cyclones and battled high seas in a race against time before weather conditions worsened.

Lindsay Warner lapped the South Island clockwise before lapping the North Island anti-clockwise, starting and finishing from Wellington on each occassion.

The 5000km solo Jet Ski ride around New Zealand over the past five weeks compares to 15,000km around mainland Australia spread over five-and-a-half months in 2020 and 2021.

Lindsay Warner started his New Zealand mission on 14 January 2023 and completed the circumnavigation of the South Island on 29 January 2023 after spending 9 days on the water (and the remaining days off the water due to severe weather).

The second leg of the journey – the circumnavigation of the North Island – started on 3 February 2023 and finished on 21 February 2023 after spending 12 days on the water (and 6 days off the water due to Cyclone Gabrielle).

Speaking to Watercraft Zone within hours of completing the epic feat, Lindsay Warner said: “It’s some of the toughest conditions I’ve ridden in. I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over.”

The North and South island circumnavigations – completed back-to-back – were delayed by cyclones and 100km/h winds that battered New Zealand throughout Lindsay Warner’s Jet Ski record attempt.

The final lap – the North Island – saw Lindsay Warner spend six consecutive days on the water, six days to let the storm pass, before doing another six days in a row to the finish line.

Approaching the final days of his journey, Lindsay Warner was in a race to beat another major weather pattern that would have significantly delayed his finish date.

This saw him cover an incredible 850km (305km, 320km and 220km) on the last three days of the entire trip.

“I had to get those last three days done as quickly as possible because the weather was getting worse,” Lindsay Warner told Watercraft Zone.

Lindsay Warner’s longest day on the water was on the first leg – lapping the South Island – when he clocked up 375km on the west coast travelling from Jackson Bay to Westport.

“I’m utterly exhausted. A lot of people I met along the way were extremely supportive, but there were also a lot of people who warned me it was too dangerous and who said it couldn’t be done.

“Some people, without realising it, were filling my head with negative thoughts and focusing on the danger, but perhaps they were unaware of the precautions I had taken for my safety.”

The New Zealand record attempt was more than a year in the planning, with Lindsay Warner studying local weather systems and ocean patterns from his base in Australia.

He called coast guards, fishos – and locals in remote areas – in the year leading up to the record attempt, to better understand the risks, and to pinpoint and map out boat ramps and refuelling locations.

As with his previous records, the 2017 Kawasaki Ultra LX Jet Ski was kitted out with all available safety equipment including a marine radio, satellite phone, and EPIRB beacons. There were also food and water rations on board should he become stranded.

“Many locals and fishos told me the ocean conditions were the worst in the world. So it then became a mental battle.

“Sometimes, on the stopover nights, I had to leave conversations because it was doing my head in. People were telling me I was nuts. 

“I had to block all that out and concentrate on each day, because the weather conditions were serious, but safety was always the top priority.”

As previously reported, two Jet Ski riders on Sea-Doo watercraft lapped New Zealand In February 2006 – Jeremy Burfoot, a Qantas 747 Captain, and friend Brad Burton – covering the 5000km journey in 19 days, and later writing a book about the experience.

Mr Burfoot later set a record for the continuous length of time riding a Jet Ski (24 hours, stopping for only five minutes every hour to refuel) in 2011.

However, Lindsay Warner, is believed to be the first to lap the North Island and South Island of New Zealand solo on a Jet Ski.

“Many people I met along the way appreciated what an achievement it was and respected what I have done,” said Lindsay Warner.

“Everyone was interested in the set-up of the Jet Ski and my previous trips. The main question was always ‘why are you doing this?’

“Of course I enjoy the challenge and the record of being the first, but being able to start a conversation about men’s health and taking care of yourself is always top of mind.”

Most nights, Lindsay Warner was able to meet up with his road crew and stay in a campervan driven by a husband-and-wife couple – the owners of Lilydale Pinehill Caravan Park in Victoria – who came along to the support the record attempt.

During his lap of the South Island, however, some nights Lindsay Warner had to sleep in his swag as the ground crew were still catching up. On one night, the local coast guard let him sleep in a club room.

As was the case along some stretches of Australian coastline, Lindsay Warner had to keep a close eye on the tides – or risk the Jet Ski being left high and dry, delaying his morning departure

Taking the most direct route possible on the lap of New Zealand, Lindsay Warner was at times up to 45km offshore, though most of the journey he was within 5km to 10km of the mainland, or hugged the coast to avoid high winds.

Lindsay Warner says his 2017 Kawasaki Ultra LX ran “almost” faultlessly on the trip, with routine maintenance scheduled throughout the journey.

A fouling spark plug caused by a misfiring coil – while crossing the notorious Cook Strait – caused a few moments of concern.

This was fixed in Wellington and the Jet Ski subsequently did not miss a beat for the rest of the trip.

During the Wellington maintenance stop, the electronics that controlled his navigation system and extra fuel pumps also had to be rewired due to corrosion.

The brand-new 2022 Kawasaki Ultra LX Jet Ski that was taken by the road crew as a back-up was untouched for the journey, and still only has three hours on the clock.

Lindsay Warner’s occupation is real-estate agent and auctioneer based in Adelaide, South Australia.

When he’s not embarking on ambitious solo Jet Ski rides, his other hobbies include desert motorcycle racing and spending time in the air as a keen amateur pilot.

So, why does Lindsay Warner embark on such bold solo Jet Ski missions?

“As a kid I was always interested in Guiness World Records and I always wanted to do something worthy of being recognised in that way,” he told Watercraft Zone.

“Over the years I’ve read countless books about adventurers, and I’ve always had a sense of adventure.

“Having completed the first solo lap of Tasmania on a Jet Ski, the first solo lap of mainland Australia on a Jet Ski, and now the first solo lap of New Zealand on a Jet Ski, no-one can take that away from me. 

“Even if someone else is crazy enough to one day attempt the same circumnavigations solo on a Jet Ski, no-one else will be the first.”

So, what’s the next solo Jet Ski adventure for Lindsay Warner?

“I have this bad habit of going home and resting and thinking what can I do next,” he told Watercraft Zone. “But right now I’m looking forward to a decent rest.”

First Solo Jet Ski ride around New Zealand

Leg One:
14 January 2023 to 29 January 2023: Depart Wellington, clockwise lap of the South Island, arrive Wellington (9 days on the water, remaining days off the water due to severe weather).

Leg Two:
3 February 2023 to 21 February 2023: Depart Wellington, anti-clockwise lap of the North Island, arrive Wellington (12 days on the water, remaining days off the water due to severe weather).

Solo Jet Ski ride around Australia:

Leg One: 20 days
1 March 2020:
Depart Exmouth, West Australia
20 March 2020: Arrive Esperance, West Australia
Journey interrupted by coronavirus border lockdowns

Leg Two: 51 days
1 April 2021:
Depart Esperance, West Australia
21 May 2021: Arrive Mallacoota, Victoria
Journey interrupted by coronavirus border lockdowns

Leg Three: 67 days
26 June 2021:
Depart Mallacoota, Victoria
31 August 2021: Arrive Exmouth, West Australia
Journey completed after 18 months. Above dates include time on the water, as well as rest days and maintenance.

Solo Jet Ski ride around Tasmania:

January 2019: Believed to be the longest continuous ocean ride solo on a Jet Ski at the time.

MORE: Lindsay Warner embarks on first solo Jet Ski ride around New Zealand
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Photo credit: Images courtesy of Lindsay Warner and are used here with permission.