Things to do in Queenstown: Adventure capital of NZ
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. There’s so much to do it can be hard to figure out where to start. Last time I visited I spent 4 days there and managed to fit a lot in. Here’s a breakdown 10 things to do in Queenstown so you can get the most out for your holiday.
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The Gondola is your ticket to some of the most spectacular views in Queenstown. If you choose to go during the day you’ll be treated to views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountains. Decide to go at night, and you’ll see the town sparkling below and mountains outlined by the stars.
The entrance to the gondola is only a short walk from the centre of Queenstown and you can get your ticket once you arrive. A $44 ticket gets you a return trip and is worth it, especially if you combine it with some of the other activities available at the top.
Note: If you want the view without spending the money you can walk the 1-hour Tiki Trail which takes you from the base of the gondola to the top.
If you want to feel like a kid again then the luge is the activity for you. Zoom down the hill with the wind in your hair and adrenaline rushing through your veins.
The luge is one of the many activities available at the top of the gondola and there are packages available. I recommend going for the six ride option. This gives you a couple of chances to get used to the feeling. Then a couple more to let your competitive side kick in.
If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill with great views, 10/10 would recommend.
Ziptrek Ecotours is another activity available at the top of the gondola. You can choose from a range of tours that take you zipping through the trees as you learn about the history of New Zealand’s ecosystem and the conversation efforts going on in the area.
We decided to do the Kereru Tour, which was 45 minutes, $99 and involved two zip lines and 21m drop. It’s a unique way to explore the forest and is suitable for people of all ages.
Jet boating is a great way to see the beautiful landscape and get a thrill at the same time. There are several different jet boating companies, all of which are allowed to operate on various sections of the lake and rivers.
We decided to go with KJet which departs from the central Queenstown wharf, which was super convenient for us as we didn’t have a car.
The 60-minute ride took us across Lake Wakatipu up the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers with a few 360° turns thrown in for extra excitement.The boat stopped a couple of times where the guide told us a bit more about the area, and we were allowed to stand to take photos.
They provide a life jacket, water-resistant coat, and I would recommend taking sunglasses and something with a hood if your ears are sensitive to wind. It was a $100pp and definitely worth it considering the length of the trip, amount of fun and stunning scenery.
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5. Indoor Skydiving
Fully disclosure I only tried this activity because the weather was too bad to go paragliding but I’m so glad I gave it a go. iFly Indoor Skydiving is near the entrance to the gondola so is easy to get to and perfect for a rainy day.
It’s $79 for two flights but if you do decide to go definitely opt for the High Flight add on. It’s an extra $20 and they take you to the very top of the tunnel.
If you want the feeling of skydiving without the commitment of jumping out of a plane then give it a go!
6. Hydro Attack
If you spend any time by the Queenstown waterfront you’ll likely see the Hydro Attack darting around the water and think to yourself, “what the hell was that.” Well, it’s a mix of a jet boat and mini-submarine in the shape of a shark.
The guide takes you zooming around Lake Wakatipu, diving under the surface and then springing back out. It is $129 for 15 minutes, but Queenstown is one of the only places in the world where you can go for a ride in one of these.
It’s an extremely fun and unique experience, totally worth it for the novelty factor.
7. Bungy Jump
The world’s first commercial bungy took place in Queenstown which makes it the perfect spot to give this experience a try. There are three bungy’s in the area
This 47m jump is located at the Skyline gondola. It’s super easy to access which makes it a great option if you’re short on time. Before you jump you’ll get to enjoy the spectacular views from 300 metres above the town.
Kawarau Bridge is the original bungy site in New Zealand. It’s 43m above the Kawarau River and if you’re looking for an extra thrill you have the option of being dunked into the water.
At a staggering 137m this bungy is the tallest in the country. It’s not for the faint hearted as even getting there is a bit of an adventure. To get to the jump you take a 35 minute drive which includes a ride in a 4 wheel drive across the country side. Then you take a cable car to the jump pod which is suspended above the Nevis River.
8. Onsen Hot Pools
After all, your adventure is time to relax. Head to the Onsen Hot Pool for a luxury soak while enjoying the spectacular view. If you want to take things to the next level then you can also indulge in one of their spa treatments.
The hot pools are 15 minute from the centre of Queenstown and they have a shuttle service available if you don’t have your own transport. The hot pools are extremely popular so make sure you book well in advance.
9. TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak
If you want to combine beautiful scenery with delicious food then this experience is the one for you. The TSS Earnslaw is a streamer from 1912. Cruise across Lake Wakatipu enjoying the beautiful alpine scenery until you get to Walter Peak farm.
Once there you are invited to enjoy the BBQ style buffet. It is honestly one of the best buffets I’ve been to. There’s something to suit everyone’s taste and you’ll be spoiled for choice. They have both a lunch and dinner option available, all you have to do is pick a time and enjoy.
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10. Roys Peak
Technically Roys Peak is in Wanaka but it’s such an iconic spot (I’m sure you’ve seen the instagram photos) I had to include it on the list. The 16km walk is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Queenstown and you should allow about 5-6 hours to complete it.
It’s definitely not the easiest walk in the world but the views are worth it. Make sure you’re prepared and check out the doc’s safety info before you go.