Queenstown, Queen of Adventure.
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Schedule of the Visit.
- 1A Day at Queenstown.
- 2Adventure for Everyone.
- 3Enjoy the Best Burger of the Country.
- 4Freestyle Bungee Jumping in the Mountain.
- 5Discover the Secret of Lake Wakatipu.
- 6Explore the Rivers at 85 Km/h!
- 7The Paradise of Gold Diggers
- 8The City Where You Never Get Bored!
1A Day at Queenstown.
Queenstown is known as the Adventure Capital of the World. This is by far the most popular touristic destination of New Zealand’s South Island. The city is located in the heart of the Otago region, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The city faces the spectacular mountain range of the Remarkables.
The “Lord of the Rings” and the “Narnia Chronicles trilogy” were filmed here In this exceptional setting, the slightest activity takes a different dimension.
The bungee jumping is popular, as well as paragliding or rafting. (to mention only few activities among so many others). And during the winter months the ski resorts attract skiing lovers from all over the world.
The city is a paradise for nature lovers in search of big thrills. But I guess you may not all be interested with the idea of jumping into the void while being only attached to an elastic cord at your feet?
Fortunately, Queenstown is much more than the Mecca for extreme sports as presented in travel guides most of the time. There is so much more to do!
If you do not want to test your limits with extreme sports, you’ll neither get bored nor disappointed. And if you seek calm above all, you may visit the beautiful cities of Wanaka or Arrowtown nearby.
To begin, we'll take some height and watch the city from the top of the nearest mountain.
I have prepared a daily program rich in emotions. However, you will have enough time to relax between the activities, and you can expect a few surprises...
2Adventure for Everyone.
On the closest mountains, we can spot the ski lifts. In summer, the Coronet Peak station remains open and hosts sensational bike competitions. The other station known as “The Remarkables” is famous for its black trails dedicated to great skiers.
The strange noise that we can hear in the distance comes from the summer luges that cascade down the mountain. The race is not only intended for children but also to adults who can buy tickets to participate. I have booked five tickets per person, because the descent of the 800 meters' tracks only lasts a few minutes each time.
When you swipe at ground level, the speed sensation is greatly increased. The track has panels just like on Formula 1 circuits.
Do not worry, the track is wide enough and overtaking another concurrent is quite easy. It is also possible to slow down and even to stop on the side in case of real trouble.
The only difficulty is to focus on the track without contemplating the extraordinary landscape. You have to negotiate bends and cross a tunnel to reach the finish line.
Some luges are faster than others, and there are two different tracks. The first track is dedicated to beginners, while the second one is a little bit harder (you may try it later, when you will be more confident with the luge driving).
The day has just begun and you have already adopted the Queenstown style. We are a little bit ahead on the program, so take your time to enjoy the scenery from the Skyline observation deck and buy some souvenir coins. I'll let you know when it’s time to descend the mountain to continue our adventures.
3Enjoy the Best Burger of the Country.
We are back in the city streets near the gondolas' departure. Alas, we won't have enough time to visit The “Kiwi and Birdlife Park” which helps injured birds to recover, and also raises kiwi babies before releasing them in the nature few years later.
So, here we are in the city centre! Welcome to Queenstown, with its cobbled streets, its souvenir shops and so many cafes.
Except for few building facades, nothing remains from the colonial era. There is a kind of agitation in the air and many tourists are already booking the afternoon activities. Do not worry: I had the brilliant idea to organize everything on the Internet the day before.
You can enjoy the end of the morning to buy souvenirs at The Mall (the shopping district) and to explore the streets.
When the fresh air from the Lake will have whetted your appetite, come joining me at the Fergburger.
With such a name, you can easily guess the menu. Fergburger earned its great reputation by serving the most delicious burgers of New Zealand, year after year. Wait to see their gargantuan portions; you won't believe your eyes! The “Ferg” has become a real institution of the city, and even if you do not like meat, you may order a vegetarian sandwich which is equally delicious.
Queenstown's garden is the perfect place to relax on the grass and contemplate the mountains and the lake. I seize this opportunity to address the question for the afternoon program. Who among you is looking for extreme sensations?
Those who are not afraid to try bungee jumping will follow our friend Ben the Kiwi.
We shall meet up all together for the cruise on the Lake right after.
4Freestyle Bungee Jumping in the Mountain.
Queenstown is at the origin of bungee jumping and the region is famous for a fall from 134 meters high. Scary isn't it? I thought so, and I have planned an easiest jump for you guys, but a very original one...
For those who do not know me yet, may I introduce myself: I am Ben the Kiwi. I joined the Kiwipal team to give practical advice at the end of each article. I’ve been doing bungee jumpings in New Zealand for more than fifteen years now, so you can trust me. Your first jump will only be a 47 meters one, but the bungee jumping platform is located in the mountain at 400 meters above Queenstown. I don't know any better way to create an immortal souvenir with a 10 seconds activity!
Time has come! everybody in the gondola to reach “The Ledge” where our jump is booked. During the short interval in the cabin, there is a little detail I must explain to you…
Usually when you perform bungee jumping, the buckles are attached to the ankles of the participant. But here, the elastic is attached with a harness at the waist and this makes a huge difference!
Bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand, and is popular in the whole country.
At “The Ledge”, you are no longer have to jump like a diver in a pool. You can even run and leap into the void. Feel free to invent the most extravagant jump. You see this camera above us? Your feat’s film awaits you at the end, so be creative!
You can perform a Tarzan’s scream to give you courage, it’s up to you... I’ll go first, so you can admire my original style (I’m quite proud of it). We'll meet again in a moment, so don’t make me wait too long and jump without thinking too much!
To be honest, the only danger with the Bungee jumping is to become addicted to it, because it’s quite expensive.
Now that you have overcome your fear, how about trying the Nevis? This fall from the top of a cable car cabin lasts 8 seconds (an eternity for a bungee jumping) and is New Zealand’s most extreme jump (134m).
No? Another time perhaps... It was nice to meet you guys! I’ll let you join the wharf near the Lake to continue the itinerary with Guillaume and the rest of the team.
5Discover the Secret of Lake Wakatipu.
The TSS Earnslaw is an authentic Steam boat moored at the pontoon of Steamer Wharf. Built at the same time as the Titanic, it never sank and still ensures the transport of passengers on Lake Wakatipu for a century.
Over time, the TSS has become the symbol of Queenstown and also the last ship of its kind still at service in the entire southern hemisphere. It can even be seen during a short time in the last Spielberg's Indiana Jones movie.
We will sail the Lake for an hour and a half then we will stop on the other shore.
Now that we have lifted the moorings, you can visit the old steam boat.
You can walk on the footbridge and contemplate the old pictures on the internal deck, but have you considered visiting the engine room?
You should see the crew feeding the chimney with a ton of coal every hour, this is quite impressive!
After what, you may sit on a bench to listen to a pianist with an outstanding landscape on 360° around you.
With its 80 km long and its 400m depth, Lake Wakatipu resembles the Loch Ness. And like his Scottish cousin, it has its own legend.
Impressive sequences from Queenstown filmed during 30 days and 30 nights.A creation by Trey Ratcliff.
To release his bride, a Maori warrior set fire on a giant during his sleep. The fire melted the mountains’ snow and gave birth to the Lake. Till today, the water level varies from 20 cm at regular intervals (perhaps according to the still alive giant’s heart beat?).
Scientists explain this phenomenon by a change in atmospheric pressure. But I prefer the legend that fits well with the magical landscape. It's not a surprise if landscapes of the Lake are found in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy filmed in New Zealand.
The comfortable cruise took place as if we were in a dream. This peaceful journey offers a different point of view of the city and the surrounding mountains. A wonderful experience indeed, but there is an even faster way to explore the region...
6Explore the Rivers at 85 Km/h!
Everyone seems to have great fun. Some have experienced thrills, others sailed on the Lake. But if we can do both at the same time, we should not deprive ourselves!
The Shotover Jet is a jet boat propelled at 85 km/h. We’ll use it to descend a river at full speed. We can expect to be shaken or even soaked! But don't be too scared, this is not a dangerous adventure!
The principle is simple; water is aspirated under the hull and evacuated backward at a very high pressure. Time for action! You can embark in the mighty Jet boat. You should clamp the safety bar and prepare yourself for the imminent takeoff.
Off we go for a half-hour of sporty driving. The boat seems to float on the turquoise waters and the canyon carved by erosion over thousands of years scrolls at top speed.
Incredibly fast changes of directions, hairpin bends and surprise rotations at 360°! This is a mix of fright and fun at the same time. During the rare "calm" moments, you may try listening to the explanations of the driver.... not so easy when you take water on the face at the same time.
What a rush of adrenaline! And this is nothing compared to the rafting descents on the stormy waters of the Kawarau River. But it will be for another day, the sun is already going down (we are in a mountain region) and we have a nice restaurant planned for the evening.
7The Paradise of Gold Diggers
Queenstown has more than 150 cafés and restaurants. I am a big fan of the “Captains” with its large fireplace and its candle light atmosphere. This is exactly what we need after a day full of emotions.
As an appetizer, I recommend the green mussels cooked with white wine, perfumed with garlic, served with dried tomatoes and some crispy bread. If grilled lamb served with a Kumara puree tempts you, don't hesitate for a second! The Captains won the prize of the best meat restaurant of New Zealand!
The wine tastings are becoming increasingly popular. During the dinner, you must absolutely taste the Pinot noir. The region has seven major world-class vineyards. But in the old times it was not the vineyards which motivated people to dig the soil of Otago...
In 1862, Queenstown experienced a massive gold rush. The population increased from a handful of people to more than 8000 in few weeks. Precious metals could be found in the rivers more than anywhere else in the world.
The last prospectors abandoned the region in 1992, and adventure tourism saved the region from economic decline. The ghost town of Macetown can be visited, and you might find a forgotten gold nugget in a river bed...
8The City Where You Never Get Bored!
For most people, Queenstown will remain the unforgettable city of the first bungee jumping, rafting or skydiving's freefall And I'm willing to bet that you are already dreaming of coming back for the sensational great bike rides in the Queenstown Bike Park.
With a million visitors each year, attendance is such that you have to book accommodation and activities well in advance.
But look at the bright side of things, It might get crowded, but the Jazz Festivals and the Queenstown carnival are even better with a dynamic atmosphere.
If you are really allergic to the crowd, you should consider visiting during spring or autumn to feel more comfortable.
To be honest, I must confess that Queenstown is becoming more and more expensive. The inventor of the formula “when you love you do not count”, surely didn't take his holidays here...
Competition between the numerous tour operators requires them to invent original activities.
This explains a kind of Disneyland's atmosphere which reigns in the streets. Assuming this particularity to be a real problem (I personally don't care). Anyway, this is true in summer but Queenstown is far more peaceful the rest of the year. When snow covers the city and festive decorations are installed, this is a wonderful winter sports station.
Throughout the day I struggled to stay focused on my topic.
But I can't leave you without saying a word about Arrowtown.
Located a few kilometers away from Queenstown, it is surely the most beautiful village of the country, with its buildings inherited from the gold rush era.
And I must advise you to follow the road to Glenorchy! From Queenstown to Paradise Valley there are so many incredible landscapes on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It was the filming location of the “Lord of the Rings” and Ron Howard's “Willow”.
If you loved Queenstown, you will surely appreciate Wanaka, which is less crowded, but perhaps even more beautiful. As for us, we will meet again in Dunedin, the capital of the Otago for the rest of our trip.
Quality bike paths make it easy to discover the region.
I leave you in the good company of Ben the Kiwi, international champion of bungee jumping and official mascot of Kiwipal. He will answer all your questions. Don't forget to send us your photos of Queenstown; we will publish them on the site! Last detail, the city also serves as a base camp for excursions in the Fiordland, and I recommend our articles about the Milford Sound and the Doubtful Sound for more information.
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? Many of you are asking me questions about the bungee jumping. But each organizer has his own material, which is why I advise you to get information on the spot directly.
- All topics ... 60 answers in total
- Skyline and Luge 14 answers
- Sports Activities 9 answers
- Shotover Jet 8 answers
- History and Legends 5 answers
- Food and Restaurants 4 answers
- Information and Budget 4 answers
- Transports 4 answers
- Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw 4 answers
- Glenorchy 2 answers
- Arrowtown 2 answers
- Weather Forecast and Swimming 2 answers
- Accommodation 2 answers
Skyline and Luge
- Is it necessary to book luge?
If this looks like a fast food queue, come back later.
- Can we go up to Skyline without taking the gondola?
The climb takes about an hour.
- Is the gondola ride free?
A return ticket costs $26 per adult and $15 per child. Open daily from 9 am until about 9 pm.Skyline Gondola
- How to maneuver the luges?
The handlebar of the sledge allows to turn, to brake or to accelerate.
- Combien de temps dure la luge?
Between two and three minutes.
- What pass do you recommend for skyline luge?
I recommend buying five descents at $49.
- What happens when finish the luge route?
The track narrows to get every luges on a single row. A chairlift facilitates the ascent to the top of the tracks. Unless otherwise stated, leave your luge at the arrival, you'll receive another one at departure point.
- Can we have luge accidents?
It is necessary to want it to the extent that one controls its speed and because the track is wide. The equipment includes helmet and protections.
- Can children book a luge ride?
You must be at least 6 years old and measure at least 1.1m.
- What is the difference between the two luge circuits?
The first track is called "The Scenic", and it descends gently with easy turns. Training is provided prior to departure. The second track, "The Advanced" is faster, but is only accessible to those who did the first track prior.Skyline Luge
- Do we have the right to race?
The regulation mentions that it is not allowed to race otherwise than between people of the same group, but check before you start, the rule might change.
- What does the « Skyline » offer?
A panoramic buffet restaurant and the Maori show "Kiwi Haka".Skyline Restaurant
From the gondola lift, at the top of Brecon Street.Kiwi & Birdlife Park
- Would you recommend the restaurant Skyline?
This is an all-you-can-eat buffet, but a bit pricey. Try to sit near the windows to enjoy the view.
- What are the opening dates of ski resorts?
Coronet Peak and The Remarkables open from mid-June to early October depending on snow conditions. The slopes are accessible from 9am to 4pm.Coronet Peak & The Remarkables
- How to book a bungee jump in Queenstown?
Booking online is a great way to get motivated.Queenstown Bungy Jumping
- What is the minimum age for rafting?
One must be at least 13 years old and able to swim.
- Which rafting trips do you recommend?
The descent of the Kawarau River is easy because no rock emerges on the surface. Descent of the Shotover River is more difficult with a tunnel of 100 m dug in the rock. Consider that the activity will have a 4-hour duration (including training). Upon arrival, hot shower, sauna and drinks. Of course, you will be accompanied by an experienced guide.Queenstown Rafting
- How to organize a paragliding trip with a guide?
The takeoff point is next to the Skyline complex.Skyline Paragliding
- Can we go skydiving?
To jump in tandem with a professional, register online.Sky diving
- Can we book a hot air ballooning flight?
Yes, you can fly over the lake. The departure is a few kilometers from Queenstown.Ballooning
- Can we practice mountain biking?
The trails are incredible, both for walks and for a fast descent.Queenstown Bike
- Are there any golf courses?
The "Kevi Heights Golf Club" and its 360 ° panorama is one of the most beautiful golf in the country.Queenstown Golf
- What is the duration of Shotover Jet?
About 25 minutes.
- What are the conditions of access to the Shotover Jet?
Expect to pay $119 per adult and $69 per child. Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm in winter, and from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm in summer. Departures every quarter hour.Shotover Jet Queenstown
- Are we safe on board of the Shotover Jet?
Every pilot receives a 120 hours of formation and they train every day. It is the only company authorized to borrow the canyon, so do not worry.
- Will we get wet during a Shotover Jet tour?
You may be soaked. If you wear the wax provided with your life jacket, you'll be fine.
- How to get to the Shotover Jet’s pier?
There is a free shuttle bus from the i-Site every 15 minutes.
- Can I take a camera during the Shotover Jet?
Alas, no! You will need to leave your belongings in locked lockers.
- What is the minimum age to register for the Shotover Jet?
The minimum age is 5 years, but it is the height of the child that really counts. Small adventurers must measure at least 1,2m. It's quite expensive ($59 if I remember well), but you can watch your custom movie before buying the DVD and the photos.
- Do you recommend buying the Shotover Jet videos?
It's quite expensive ($59 if I remember well), but you can watch your custom movie before buying the DVD and the photos.
History and Legends
- What is the Maori legend about Lake Wakatipu?
The best known translation is "The Bay of Spirits".
- Who founded the city?
William Rees whose statue adorns Marine Parade arrived in 1860. Sheep breeders and explorer, he baptized the majority of mountains and rivers.
- Where can we observe the phenomenon of Lake Wakatipu?
Stop at Bob Cove on the Glenorchy Road.
- Is there a gold rush museum?
The Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown is free and open every day from 9 am to 3 pm.Arrowtown Gold Rush Museum
- Where were the scenes of the Lord of the Rings filmed?
At Paradise Valley, near Glenorchy.
Food and Restaurants
- How to organize a wine tasting?
Count around $100 to visit the cellars and taste some excellent wines.Queenstown Wine Trail
- Where is the Fergburger?
Go to the number 42 on Shotover Street. It is open from 12 am up to 5 am.Fergburger Menu
- Are there supermarkets in town?
Yes, but you will find the "New World" on the outskirts.
- Where is the Captain’s restaurant?
At number 11 of "The Mall". Open every day from 9 am until late in the evening.Queenstown Captain's restaurant
Information and Budget
- Where to find the Queenstown iSite?
At the crossroads of Shotover Street and Camp Street. It is open daily from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm. This hotel has a business center and offers a meeting / conference room.Queenstown iSite
- What budget to consider?
At least $100 to afford an unforgettable activity and indulge yourself. You can also subscribe to "combos" for two or three activities.Booking Combos
- Are the hikes free?
Yes, except the great walks like "Routeburn Track" which are paying.
- Where can I go shopping?
Visit Shotover St, Beach St and The Mall. Some shops are open until 9pm.
- Is there an airport?
The international airport is in Frankton, 8 km from the city.
- How to reach the airport?
The "connectabus" connects the airport for $6 from 6:30 am to 10:20 pm. The Shuttle shuttle trip costs $15 and the taxi ride runs around $20.
- Can we come by bus?
- Are there car parks?
Parking is payable 7 days a week in the city center, and limited to 30 minutes. There are free areas at the entrance of the city on Gorge Road, Man Street and Lake Street.
Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw
- How long is the cruise on Lake Wakatipu?
- What was the role of TSS Earnslaw in the past?
Used 14 hours a day as today, it was used to deliver supply to the isolated farms of the region.
- Are there stopovers during the cruise?
The TSS Earnslaw stops on the other side of the lake to disembark passengers who booked activities (horse tour for example).
- Quels sont les horaires de la croisière à bord du TSS Earnslaw ?
A departure every two hours from 10 am. The rates are displayed on the official website, and you can even dine on board.Real Journeys, TSS Earnslaw
- Can you describe Arrowtown to me?
This village of 1400 inhabitants is located 20 minutes from Queenstown. The 60 wooden and stone buildings date from the time of the gold rush. Chinatown housed the gold prospectors in the 1880s.
- How to reach Arrowtown by bus?
The Arrowtown Scenic Bus runs three times a day. It costs $25 for a round trip.Arrowtown Bus
Weather Forecast and Swimming
- What weather can we expect in Queenstown?
The Alpine climate can have temperatures up to 30 ° C. The winter is cold between 5 ° C and 10 ° C. The summer is dry enough, it often rains in January.
- Can we swim?
With water at 15 ° all year, only the sunny days of summer allow to swim.
- Do you need to book your hotel in advance?
From July to August and from December to February, it is imperative to book accommodation with the rest of your trip.
- What types of housing are offered on site?
B & Bs and dormitories for backpackers.
On the Country Map
Queenstown is located in the Central Otago region on the South Island.
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