Queenstown is known throughout the country as a place rife with sights and adventure. Internationally reknowned as the ‘adventure capital’ of New Zealand, Queenstown has something for everyone. The region is located in the south-west part of the South Island. Queenstown is 483 kilometers away from Christchurch.
Surrounded by magnificent mountains and situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Originally named because ‘it was fit for Queen Victoria’, Queenstown boomed during the gold rush of the late 1800s. People from all over the world rushed to Central Otago to discover their fortunes and relics of old Chinese settlements are still evident in the Queenstown area today.
The town centre is only one square kilometre in size, which makes everything within easy walking distance including a huge variety of shops, bars, accommodation and over 100 eating places.
Queenstown enjoys four distinct seasons with heated summers and clear, chilly winters, and you can find an adventure activity to suit any one of them. A lot of adrenaline seekers often visit the region for activities like paragliding, white water rafting to bungy jumping. Try bungy jumping from the world’s first commercial bungy jump operation. Kawarau Bridge Bungy first started in 1988 and now there are a total of four Bungy sites in the Queenstown area, where you can take the ultimate plunge with only a rubber cord attached to your ankles.
The Shotover and Kawarau Rivers offer the thrill seeker jet boat rides, whitewater rafting or river surfing. Do a tandem hanglide or parapente, go rock climbing, four wheel drive or mountain bike over the local terrain, ‘Fly by Wire’ or enjoy the million dollar views on a chartered flight. Some of the other activities on offer are ice-skating, mini golf, water skiing, wind surfing, horse trekking, fishing and hiking.
Along with adventure activities there are plenty of relaxing things to do in Queenstown as well. There are activities for the laidback like sightseeing tours, gourmet dining, gondola rides and a lot more. Take the Gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant and Luge, where you can enjoy Queenstown’s greatest views. See our native Kiwi at the Kiwi and Bird-Life Park, enjoy award winning wines from the world’s southern most vineyards and dive into the Maori culture and experience a traditional Maori meal and show at the Queenstown Maori Concert & Feast.
Cruise Lake Wakatipu on our ‘Lady of the Lake’ the TSS Earnslaw. Built in 1912 this steamboat is an icon in Queenstown and is a classic way to travel to Walter Peak High Country Farm.
In the winter the surrounded skiing resorts produce some of the best skiing conditions in Australasia. Both Coronet Peak and the Remarkables ski fields are very accessible and offer full ski hire, international ski schools, night skiing and heli-skiing options. To celebrate the arrival of snow, Queenstown hosts the ultimate winter party its popular annual Winter Festival. This event is not to be missed and is jam packed with fun and entertainment for a whole week in July.
Step back in time when you visit the historic gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. Only 20 minutes drive from Queenstown this quaint township is rich with history. Try your luck at gold panning, visit the old jail and Chinese settlement and explore the Arrowtown Museum, one of the best boutique museums in the country. Visit Dorothy Brown’s – a unique movie theatre and bookshop, wine and dine at one of the many good restaurants or take a look around nearby Millbrook Resort. The annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival is another popular event in the Resort.
Along with a buzzing nightlife, numerous activities and breath taking scenery Queenstown is one of those places you can spend days just relaxing and enjoying the serenity.
If you want more activity suggestions, just read this article in detail and you might spot an activity or two or three for you to try out in your Queenstown stay.
Queenstown Pursuits You Have to Try
Below is a list of the many things you can do in this area nicknamed as the “Adventure Capital of New Zealand.”
Enjoy a laid-back gondola ride
The gondola ride experience includes witnessing the panoramic beauty of the area including Lake Wakatipu and mountains like the Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and the Remarkables range. Tourists will be offered sizable viewing decks so they can see the entire landscape from varying angles. The Queenstown gondola ride is deemed as the highest lift in all of the Southern Hemisphere.
Try out a jet boat escapade
This is one activity that NZ visitors must experience, and now there are three selections available ranging from beginner jets to the fastest, the Shotover Jet. The rush you will get from this activity is incomparable so you have to try it out.
The driver slash guide will present you the river’s craggy canyons while riding a high-speed boat, and during the course of the ride, will perform awesome 180° to 360° rotations, even almost coming into contact with those rugged rock formations.
Be sure to take your sunglasses with you so you will witness every crazy turn or jump that the driver will act out, because it can get pretty crazy-wet out there.
Take the plunge at the Kawarau Bridge bungy jump
The area won’t be given the Adventure Capital tag without an activity like the bungee jump. The bridge go way back to the 1880s, and it was built to link the region to Central Otago during the heydays of the gold rush. The bridge was restored during the 60s but it underwent poor conditions after 20 years.
Then guys named AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch decided to turn the spot into an adventure hub by introducing bungee jumping to the adrenaline-seeking masses and the rest is history.
Divers will be plunged a breathless 43 meters to the Kawarau River, and you can decide whether you want to fall over forwards, backwards, jump with another individual with you, make spins or somersaults. You can also choose to bobble a few inches beneath the water, get into contact with it or just get straight-up immersed into the river.
Take a stroll in one of Queenstown’s botanic gardens
The Queenstown Gardens houses not only trees and flowering plants, but memorials as well. The biggest memorial situated in the garden belongs to Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, nicknamed “Scott of the Antarctic.”
The man arrived on South Pole only to find that a Norwegian explorer named Roald Amundsen actually made it before him. Scott and his men passed away before getting to their base camp. The memorial is in the form of a huge boulder and it displays plaques and Scott’s final message.
There are also memorials dedicated to renowned individuals like Bruce Grant, the man who conquered K2, the second highest mountain in the world after Mt. Everest and Andy Harris, a Mt. Everest guide.
The place also holds wine and food festivals and while walking around the area’s flora, you can relax and observe panoramic sceneries of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range.
For the sports-minded, you can play tennis in the tennis courts, play 18-holes on the golf course, test your skills in the croquet section and have fun bowling in the bowling green.
Try something new, like the Skyline Luge
The luge is just one of the many adventure thrills that Queenstown is famous for. The Skyline Luge is 800 meters of pure adrenaline; you will be raced down a zigzagging downhill trail throughout trees or bends. If you tried the activity before, you can choose between a fast track or a leisurely one, pull in for a time out and just bask in the views on one of the stopping bays.
You will be brought to the top of the hill via a cable car from street level. You can buy a single luge ticket or a combo ticket. It’s your choice whether you want to get on the speedy track or the scenic option but keep in mind that the scenic track is required before you are permitted to get on the faster track.
The fast track features a precipitous incline and it’s advanced since participants will get to ride along bent corners, plunge unto sudden slopes and go inside tunnels. There is also an available walking track where participants are given access to the summit of the luge.
Other than the excitement that was the luge ride, the view from the top is quite spectacular. Scenery spans from majestic mountains to surrounding bodies of water.
Skydive, paraglide, hang-glide and para-pent
Seeking for more thrilling adventures that you can tell your friends and family back home? Then make sure that you try out skydiving, paragliding, hang-gliding and para-penting before you travel back to your home front.
There are outfits in the area who offer these adventures, and you need not worry since safety is always their concern and they are professional and skilled in what they do. You can go for a tandem paragliding or hang-gliding activity or even choose to do it alone.
The Elevation Paragliding School provides schooling in this particular activity. The course will take you roughly 3 days to finish and it will depend on the weather as well.
You can also go for a tandem skydive. Test your mettle and gather your courage to jump out of an air craft and into the air. You will be secured to a professional jumpmaster and once the two of you take the plunge, look forward to a massive sensory overload as you realize you are thousands of feet high up above the ground and that you will plummet towards it at about 200 kph.
Go bird watching at Kiwi and Birdlife Park
New Zealand has been isolated to the rest of the world for the longest time, and the country became a hub for unique bird species which can only be found in its locality. Plenty of these species are flightless birds because before the arrival of humans, these birds do not have to face stronger predators.
Species like the moa, a large flightless bird, went into extinction even before the British arrived. There are still species that are being protected at this time, like the famous kiwi bird, a symbol of the country.
The Kiwi and Birdlife park features a cage for kiwis, which are basically nocturnal birds. Visitors are not permitted to take photos though. Other than the kiwi, the park houses plenty more animals and birds that you can observe, like the tuatara, the morepork, ducks, black stilts and rare green parrots from Campbell Islands.
Try a fancier and more adventurous take on the swing
The Ledge Urban Sky Swing is another adventure activity that takes you up 400 meters above the region. You will be secured then lowered to the release station and then the fun begins.
Safety is always a priority when it comes to the Sky Swing, and it has experienced guides and operators who follow strict codes of practice to ensure the security of their customers.
Prepare to take on various trails in the Queenstown Bike Park
The park has 27 bike trails ranging from beginner-level tracks to the more advanced. It crosses Bob’s Peak above the lake and once you go down and finish the track, you can just mosey over to the gondola and go for another ride once more.
You’ll be taken to your gondola cabin prior to being accommodated to the Skyline Queenstown station then go on a scenic gondola ride. Then you got to grab your bike and participate in the challenges that awaits at the park.
Get another dose of adrenaline rush with flyboarding
Flyboarding is a water activity which lets participants fly up 30 ft above water, then plunge straight through it like dolphins would. It’s a thrilling activity that’s easy to learn with the help of experienced instructors who will guide and train you before you get propelled high up in the air.
The Flyboard is a waterjet board that is secured to a jet-ski and the flyer’s feet are strapped onto the board. Flights can last for 20-35 minutes on water and also includes an additional 5-10 minutes of on-shore training.
Queenstown is for the thrill seekers since most of the activities in the city are outdoors and not for the faint-hearted. If you are someone looking to test your limits and not afraid to try new things, Queenstown must simply be in your bucket list of places to go.