Queenstown calls itself the Adventure Capital of the New Zealand, and it certainly has plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities to satisfy most people! We first came here in 2006, and yes we did the iconic bungy jump off Kawarau Bridge, which is reputed to be the site of the first commercial bungy jump in the world. Huge fun, and I definitely recommend it.
Queenstown really focuses on outdoor activities: skiing in the winter, and so many things to do year round: biking, hiking, hang-gliding, kayaking. There are helicopter sightseeing flights, jet boat rides, steam boat trips on the lake. There’s a gondola ride up to beautiful views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown below, and exciting luge runs down.
There is a vibrant scene in the town, lots of shops, many of them selling outdoor sports clothing and equipment, pubs, cafes, restaurants with a wide variety of food, from the cheap and quick to some very high-end fine dining – definitely something to suit every taste.
and it’s a 25 minute walk downhill into town. We’re happy to have the uphill walk back, to help burn off some of the calories we’re ingesting in the great restaurants here!
5 fun things to do in Queenstown:
Definitely a bungy jump! There are several choices, and you can usually get the T-shirt and the video to prove to your friends that you did it. This is what Queenstown is known for, and we had a blast when we did it in 2006.
Shotover Jet Boat:
Thrilling jet boat ride in a beautiful river gorge. The Shotover River gorge is stunning, with rock faces, and twists and turns that your boat driver will throw the boat around, and spin you, just enough to make you want to do it again!
The Gondola and Luge:
Even if you don’t fancy luge-ing down the mountain, it’s well worth the view to take the gondola up and enjoy the scenery. Maybe have a meal, or a cup of coffee or ice-cream. Relax in the sunshine for a while. The luge however is huge fun! You get a few minutes’ instruction on how to make it go and how to make it stop, then your hand is stamped and you’re licensed to thrill! Off you go down a concrete run, trying to overtake your husband… There are different combinations of tickets available, and since the luge run only takes a couple of minutes, I definitely recommend buying the 4 or 5 run ticket, as you’ll want to do it again!
Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound boat trip:
We did the Milford Sound trip back in 2006, and it’s simply stunning. This time we decided to visit Doubtful Sound. You can self-drive from Queenstown and get a boat there, or book the whole trip from Queenstown, or do as we did, which was to drive down and stay for a few days in the small town of Te Anau, and take the trip from there. This is Fiordland, the wild south-west coast of the South Island, and the scenery is spectacular. There are numerous fiords or sounds along the coast, and both Milford and Doubtful are well worth visiting. Tourist boats go out into the sound, typically with a live narration pointing out different sights and geological features along the way. You’ll go out to the edge of coast, where the sound meets the Tasman Sea, and then turn around and come back. We travelled with Go Orange from Te Anau, and there are several different tour companies.
Kiwi Birdlife Park:
This is an interesting private conservation park started in a dump area of Queenstown in 1986, and it’s still family-run. Set on 5 acres of indigenous plantings, with a natural spring, pool and stream, there are a collection of enclosures with various NZ birds including keas, NZ falcon, tui, parakeets, morepork owls, several duck species, plus geckos and the marvelous tuatara.
And of course the iconic kiwi bird. This place works with the Department of Conservation on a captive breeding and release program of various species of kiwi birds. They currently have a pair in an enclosure, set up with red lights, for visitors to view. Because kiwis are nocturnal and to enable visitors to view them, the park has changed the lighting so the birds are active in the daytime, with red lights, that they cannot see (so the kiwis think it’s night) then the lights go on at dusk, and the kiwis sleep. The birds are not disturbed by the red lights, and cannot see the human visitors.
Several times during the day, keepers come in to give a short talk about the kiwis, answer questions, and go into the enclosure to supplement their forage feeding. The kiwis are pretty quick, running around and foraging for insects. They are a remarkable bird, pretty much filling the role of a small mammal in this country that only has 3 species of bats as indigenous mammals. Since humans have introduced various mammals, the kiwis are being predated and are under severe threat. However it seems that several captive breeding programs are showing success.
The Kiwi Bird Park has a number of other birds that have been injured and are no longer able to live in the wild. Some are also endangered species and are in breeding and release programs. This is a very interesting place, and worth 2-3 hours walk around.
Queenstown is a fun town, in a beautiful location and is well worth visiting for a few days.
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