The town that when you arrive doesn’t look real! With a huge lake reflecting the highest of mountains, the outdoor activity capital of the country maybe even the world which may make you lose a few breaths, its fact becoming known throughout the world for being the real Capital of New Zealand due to this popularity.
It is tucked away between valleys and mountains, with only one road going in an out, this popular town stays restricted and this is why its popularity has grown.
Getting here is pretty easy to be honest theres several difference ways, one is by Plane, a 1 hour flight from Auckland, or a simple 30 minute from Christchurch however the flights can sometimes be expensive. The second is driving, with several carparks in Queenstown. However I would say the best option is by Bus, I was on the Kiwi Experience Coach, the views are amazing along the roads into and out Queenstown, so when you suddenly stop you suddenly become aware of
Staying in Queenstown you have several options too, from Hotels, Apartments and also campsites spread around the town, all with stunning views. I ended up opting to keep it cost effective and stay in a Hostel with the three top ones I recommend below;
Once you are settled, I recommend heading straight out, don’t waste your time inside in such a energetic, diverse Town. Here’ my top 20 things to get upto;
1. Explore the inner town.
With high street shops, friendly assistants, tour information desks along one whole road, hidden bars as well as some novelty cafes just to top it all off you are onto a winner in Queenstown (as well as a lot of money spent).. The streets are small, full of stone buildings, wooden chalets to give it a ski resort type feel, with original buildings like the … on the Lake front.
2. Bungee jumping
Queenstown is the home of the first ever Bungee jump, the Kawarau Bridge is 45 years old, and was founded by AJHackett and his friends who were into extreme sports, they bought the bridge repaired it to its best self and to this day is known as the original. Jumping 40 metres into the river valley, with the option to get your head wet if you want. This tested my bravoury to the limit. I think I actually snorted when I walked onto the edge!
If this wasn’t enough, the bigger, scarier and down right crazy ones are a little further away on the bus. The AJHackett , which is 135 metres jump is the epitome of an adrenaline junkies best friend.
3. The Nevis Swing
The final is the Nevis swing which can be done with a friend or on your own, you are dropped 525 feet ad instead of a bungee its basically a nice relaxing swing after that. There even offers if you decide to do all 3 of the AJHacketts experiences, so hey save some money and go for it. It is definitely addictive for a few people maybe your one of them.
4. The Skyline Cable Bar
If you dont fancy the Trail upto the Sky observation deck, then this is the perfect lazy ride. You can either pay one way or return and it gives you the best views of the town below. It also has dining, bar and cafe to make your trip up even more worth while. This is what me and two friends did and it was a perfect afternoon trip away from the busy town.
5. Luging on top of Queenstown
One of the best experiences to not only see the most stunning views on top of the hill, but also just to experience a past time of Kiwis.Luging is very popular here with no petrol or energy needed just a downward course of track which makes its much better for the environment than its close relative of go karting. With optional goes of once, twice or even more depending on time and budget. Dont forget to look up when you are racing down the hill.
6. Ice Bar – There are actually 2 within the town, but the original is Below Zero (the other one being Minus 5)… Icey cocktails, warm gloves and ponchos, photobooth and even ice sculptures to pose with.
7. Jet Boat down the river , is thrilling, scary and the perfect way to wake you up for a full day of adventure. At …… miles an hour its teh fastest boat on water
8 Have a Fergburger
I wasn’t going to, I was addament I wasn’t going to que an hour for one burger, I was also telling people I bet there are better burgers, 1 day later I was in a 30 minute que to order by Fergburger!! The wait is worth it and accommodates to vegans, Veggies, Glutan free, plus any allergies to make everyone welcome. Recommend the Bombay Chicken, its got that kick of Indian spice with an amazing Mango Chutney… No regrets.
9. Kiwi Sanctuary
9. Sunset by Wakatipu Lake – The Perfect end to a great day of exploring, hiking and just being extreme. Order your food, congregate with friends, make new ones with a beer and just enjoy the gradual calmness and beauty of Queenstown at sunset. For such a
10. Visit the Sweet shops and dessert cafes
Not only is it the activities and scenery of Queenstown but also the food. One such place is the Olde Remarkables sweet shop on Beach street, its full of all types of sweets, plus the smell of fresh fudge will make you want to by a block of each flavour. Other Dessert shops included Cookie time, and the gelato parlour Patagonia, and the best doughnuts at Balls and Bangles. So prepare to come out of Queenstown alot heavier than when you got there.
11. Bar Crawl of Queenstown
A stay in QT wouldn’t be complete without a night on teh town , at one of the many organised pub crawls. Mainly aimed for 18 – 30 year olds, full of free shots, drinks, dancing, games and small fee for a chance to meet a lot of different people travelling just like you with a common interest of adventure and adrenaline and maybe alcohol! https://bignightout.net.nz/ – One of the best is in the link, with different themes on special occasion.
12. Queenstown Gardens – Found on the edge of the Lake 2 minutes from the town high street, a quieter more peaceful place. With beautiful views of the entire Lake. Benches all the way round the circular route, for picnics and even a snooze like the guy we found, while house shopping on the other side of the bay at the beautiful houses on the peninsula of Kelvin Heights. It has a playground for children, and even a band stand for some summer time concerts. If you are really lucky you may get locals teaching you how to play disk golf.
13. Ben Lomond Hike -A hike I didn’t do, but friends of mine did do them, starting early in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. Ben Lommond got its name from …. and is 1,738 metres above sea level. The route is steap and continuous It has panoramic views of Queenstown and the lake and is a poster picture for tourism when coming to New Zealand. with a rest point where you may find a few of the famous … birds who like to be fed. Ben Lomond is one of the tallest peaks in the Queenstown basin and the summit offers some of the region’s most powerful views. This full-day hike passes near the top of the Skyline Gondola which is also a great stop and celebration on the way down.From there it’s 6–8 hours return to the Ben Lomond summit (1,748 m). On clear days the views stretch all the way to Mt. Aspiring and beyond. Reminiscing I wish I had done at least one of these to appreciate New Zealands south island that little bit more but the body was saying no.
14. Queenstown Hill Hike for Sunset
A 2 hour return hike, up the Queenstown Hill is hard, its vertical and doesn’t stop, but sunset from the top is stunning! Good with friends or on your own, but especially good for the ones who wants the views but not the huge day hike. It doesn’t need any equipment including boots on a good day. The height at the final point is 945 metres with the best views of the lake and town below.
FURTHER AFIELD – DAY TRIPS
15. Mount Cook
Due to storms and escape plans igot to experience the plane ride over Mount Cook from Franz Josef. 15, 30 or 45 minute flights to see some of the most stunning views for relatively good prices depending on budgets is one not to be missed. The pure white snow contrasting with the dark mountains and bright blue sky. For others who prefer the hiking challenges, you can climb up along the glaciers where there are several guided hikes to the foot of them.
16 Lord of the rings tour
Most people will have heard if not seen the most famous films to ever be shot in New Zealand. Infact there is a tourist industry worth more than 5million pounds just in NZ for it. Merchandise, tours, and studios for any fan of the films i recommend this tour from Queenstown. It is here you will have particuar scenes pointed out to you on the way out of QT, as well as get to try on some costumes while you look over at the Mountains of Mordor and Isangard.
A small farm, with a Shakespearean story behind it, found at the very top of the Wakatipu Lake past Glenorchy and through beautiful scenic landscapes. Frist question would be why is it called Paradise? Well its due to the house which was built there , but before that due to the first settlers seeing this scenery and land as Paradise, SIMPLE! It has everything, water, farming, forests for wood, the mountains for protection and peace! We spent lunch here just taking in the beauty of the snow capped mountains, streams curving down to the main lake, as so much greenery.
Link to the website – https://www.altitudetours.co.nz/glenorchy-tour/
18. Glenorchy day trip – Only 1 hour drive from Queenstown is the beautiful town of Glenorchy at the top of the river running into the main Lake. Glenorchy is small, with not a lot there, but it has charming buildings, the tiniest library and church I have ever seen. Beautifully preserved wooden buildings, and is basically a place to slow down and enjoy your surroundings so bring a picnic.
19. Seasonal Skiing, is very popular in Queenstown during the winter months, with huge mountains, different routes and insane views as you head down the slopes. The main resort is on the Remarkables mountain range, names due to their huge presence over the whole of Queenstown. It has steep slopes, another extreme sporting so popular here and in other parts of New Zealand.
20. Milford Sound
Last but defintily not forgotten, I could spend a whole post just on Milford Sound, but it would give so much away. The scenery from Queenstown is stunning, from the lake, the the foot hills, the forests, and then the winding round within the National Park. I saw fresh water streams, avalanches, the foggiests of views to the most stunning views. Lord of the Rings scenes, and this was only on the way to the Milford Sound harbour. You go high up into the mountain valleys, over and around, higher and higher with stunning views down to the forests below, but nothing will compare to the site of the Sound.
3 hours drive, 1 and half hour boat trip, then all the way back. A full day oftravelling due to my short period of time, but boy was it worth it. We were on a boat with around 100 people, with a top deck, front and side decks for it not to feel too crowded. We went 2 metres away from coming down the vertical drops, we sailed through the narrowest part of the Fjord and as we sailed out the fog lifted and we were given a real show of just wow Milford Sounds is the top attraction when coming to New Zealand.
4 days and i jammed packed them full of everything i could while in Queenstown. However you could be here for weeks and still not be bored with this amazing town. It has tones of personality and things for every different kind of person to get upto from the adrenaline junkies to the passionate foodies I cant recommend Queenstown enough I was gutted to leave, and the saying goes;
If you haven’t been to Queenstown you haven’t been to New Zealand.