Queenstown, New Zealand
The Adventure Capital of the World
Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this is a MUST SEE destination for visitors to New Zealand
This is a fantastic place. It has it all. Majestic mountains, beautiful lake, neat little town, superb restaurants and great accommodations. The “action capital of the world” has also been used to describe Queenstown. This is where bungy jumping was first invented by A.J. Hackett. A trip to New Zealand without a visit to Queenstown simply means you must come back.
Overview of the Town
Just strolling around this town is a delight. Lots of streets just for pedestrians, great shops with local artwork, souvenir shops, great local jewelry from greenstone and paua shells, and some of the best fresh food New Zealand has to offer - all on a beautiful lake front. A lovely park to walk is at the opposite end of the waterfront from where the m/s Earnslaw docks. To stroll through this park with its huge trees and ferns, is really delightful. There is so much to do here you could easily spend days and still have things you wish to do. The official Queenstown i-SITE Visitor Information Centre is just a couple of blocks off the waterfront and tickets for many of the main attractions are available for purchase.
A must do experience. This is a gondola that takes you to the top of Coronet Peak. The view here is featured on numerous postcards, posters and front covers of books on New Zealand. There is a restaurant at the top and an observation level. Hang gliders take off from here and land in the fields below. There is a movie at the top that is well worth watching. It is about 30 minutes long about an uptight American business man that comes to New Zealand and the movie is very well done. Things happen and although not by choice, he ends up seeing much of the country and then “chilling out” and becoming one with nature. The scenery is really great and the movie is entertaining.
Lake Wakatipu and the St. Nicholas Sheep Station
You will see the old m/s Earnslaw steamer docked in downtown. This old boat was bought piece by piece and built in Queenstown. Now it makes daily runs to St. Nicholas Sheep station, a true working sheep station at the end of the lake from Queenstown. They host lunches, morning and afternoon teas, and dinner in the house on the sheep station. There is a sheep dog demonstration that is very well done and they have demonstrations of all aspects of sheep farming. They also have some highland cattle here. Which is a breed found in Scotland with very long hair. They will let you sit on the back of a very large bull and you can take a picture. Yes, we have been there and done that. You buy the tickets right in town and we do suggest taking one of the trips on the m/s Earnslaw.
This is the famous Shotover River jet boat ride. It is exciting – if you are a little bit of a nervous person, then make sure you sit in the middle. You arrive and they have you put on a lifejacket and clothes to keep you dry. Then you load in the jet boat. This type of jet boat was designed in New Zealand. It can operate in just a few inches of water. Then you take off down the Shotover River. They go very close to the rocks on either side and then also do the famous Hamilton turn which is a 360 degree turn in the same spot. Not for the weak of heart but also not that big a deal either. The boat ride only lasts about 15 minutes.
Dart River Safari
I really enjoyed this. I have done it twice and had someone go recently and it keeps improving. Our first experience was on very old jet boats, but now they have moved upscale and have wonderful new and more comfortable boats. I am sure that the tour has also changed quite a bit. You start off driving down the side of the lake to a small town of Glenorchy. Then you board the boats and take off up the Dart River. The boat goes up rapids and also goes very close to the sides. The scenery is spectacular it is hard to describe. We loved this excursion as it gave you the thrill of the jet boat with the remarkable scenery driving down the lake and then in the Dart River itself surrounded by the Southern Alps.
A stop on most tours is Arrowtown. A recreation of an old town that is exceptionally well done and very educational.
The A.J.Hackett bungy jump is easy to find. It is just off the main road from town to the airport and simply a few more miles past the airport. You will see the bridge and the jumpers from the main road. It is fun to stop and watch the jumpers. They video each jump. Never been tempted to try it but we do like watching. This is the spot of the very first bungy jump. There is another bungy jump from Skippers Canyon that is much higher and usually only done by expert bungy jumpers.
Fly by Wire
Yet another attraction thought up here in Queenstown. People lay in a contraption that is attached by a cable to a line that goes across a canyon. You are cranked up and the when you hit a button it releases you. An engine kicks in and you can fly this machine around while hanging from the overhead wire. You can speed up or slow down or do turnown or do turns – you can control the flight. Eventually you run out of gas and they lower you down. Not for the faint of heart.
There are so many attractions, that it cannot all be covered here. White water rafting, canoeing, hiking, helicopter rides, tube running etc. This is a great place for the young that want to experience the beauty of nature while doing athletic activities. The sheer beauty of Queenstown is worth a visit if you did nothing but sit on the lakeshore and soaked in the tranquility and beauty of the mountains and the lake.