Queenstown is known the world over as the epicentre of adventure, but this South Island town has more to offer than just bungy jumping and jet boating. These days, just as many visitors are attracted by the world-class wineries and breath-snatching scenery that sit right on Queenstown’s doorstep.
To experience the real New Zealand simply head on over to the Ngāi Tahu Tourism website and choose from a flood of adventures.
If you are looking to test your limits, this high-octane holiday hub has you covered. It was in Queenstown in 1988 that AJ Hackett first came up with the idea of tying an elasticised rope to his ankles and jumping from a considerable height. Since then thrill-seekers have regularly journeyed to the world’s first commercial bungy jump at the Kawarau Bridge to throw themselves from a height of 47 metres and ‘kiss the water’ below.
If you’d rather take someone else down with you, Kawarau is also Queenstown’s only tandem bungy. But if heights aren’t for you at all, there are plenty of other heart rate-raising options on offer.
In winter, the four main mountain ski fields – Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone – have enough powder to keep the fussiest of snow bunnies happy and heli-skiing operators can get you off the groomers and into the back country.
Those in town during the warmer months can sample activities ranging from the all-out adrenaline-fuelled white-water rafting, hang-gliding, mountain biking and skydiving to the somewhat more sedate horse treks, walking and fishing.
But if even the latter options sound too energetic, relax – literally – because Queenstown also has a softer side. Bliss out at one of the city’s hot pools or day spas. At Onsen at Auckland’s Point, you can luxuriate in your own private cedar-lined bathing room, complete with oversized barrel soak tub and jaw-dropping views of Shotover River Canyon.
It was hidden treasure that first lured people to Queenstown. Maori ancestors came to the shores of Lake Wakatipu in search of pounamu, the indigenous word for the still-prized New Zealand greenstone. Centuries later, European explorers found gold shimmering away in the lake’s waterways causing an instant gold rush. The shiny stuff may have been panned away, but modern visitors will still find plenty of hidden gems in this action-packed and scenery-blessed destination.
If you’d rather see Queenstown’s remarkable scenery without getting wet, take the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. Go-getters can take the Skyline luge back down into town.
Central Otago Wine
Daytime drinking is entirely encouraged at the many wineries surrounding Queenstown. Central Otago is the world’s southern-most grape growing region and is particularly known for pinot noir.
Words: Eleani Purcell