Things to do in Queenstown
I didn’t expect to love Queenstown as much as I did! It is a small but very lively and pretty town situated in the South of the South Island in New Zealand. Here is my list of things to do in Queenstown, which is also known as the adventure capital of the world!
It was my birthday (21st of course…) and I wanted to do something fun! So, I thought why not give The Canyon Fox Extreme Zipline a go?! It is 182m high and 445m long with a 5m drop! It is the world’s only zipline that uses gravity to drop you first before ziplining on a 240m long cable across the canyon. But that is just line 1! Line 2 is 138m high and you race against your friend on two lines. Sounds good right?!
In the run up to the zipline, I was nervous! It was the freefall drop that made my heart jump but also the reason I wanted to do it! You meet 45 minutes before your allocated time at the Shotover Canyon Swing office on Shotover Street. There are booklets to help you decide how you might want to jump and videos on screen to prepare you.
We were discreetly weighed in the office and the team draw a picture on your hand which (I think) corresponds to different harness weights. It’s a good way of not having your weight called out / written on your hands!
Once you have arrived in the mountains, there is a short uphill walk of around 5 minutes to reach the platform. Once harnessed up, we all approached the platform (tentatively) and we took it in turns to go. I opted for the sit-down forwards option where you let gravity take its role in letting you drop. I am pretty sure I left out a little ‘eeeeee’ as I dropped and then zipped along over the canyon – what a feeling! At the end of line 1, you are left dangling for a little while and its amazing (and scary) at how high you are. The more adventurous option is to run and jump off a platform – I just couldn’t make myself do it!
There is a platform on the other side where you wait for line 2 (you are safely fastened to a wire, don’t worry!). Line 2 is more like a traditional zip line but is still 138m high! Much less nervous this time, I ran off and raced my other half down the long wire!
The Fox Canyon must be on the top of your list of things to do in Queenstown! The team there are fantastic (Mel and Chris), make you feel at ease whilst also have a joke and the Fox Canyon was exhilarating!
If you are really brave, they also have the world’s first canyon swing. After leaping off the platform 182m high, you fall 60 metres, rushing past the rocky cliff! From there the freefall turns into a swing where you soar across the Shotover River.
If you do both, they have a great combo deal of $299 or individually they are $174 for The Fox and $249 for the Canyon Swing, which includes return transport. They also have multiple cameras capturing your experience from different angles – our photos were fantastic and included an awesome multi shot GIF. You are also allowed to bring your own hands-free camera / go pro if it is properly mounted.
The Shotover Jet isthe only jet boat that has exclusive access over the Shotover river canyons. You will read about K Jet and Orange Boats but they operate in a different part of the rivers and lakes.
Operating since 1965 for thrillseekers, you can experience riding through canyons at 90kmh, skimming around boulders and holding on tight in 360 degree spins for 25 minutes. The price of the jet ($159) includes a free return shuttle station from Shotover Street in town to take you to the Shotover Jet River Base. Make sure you look online for special discounts for certain times – we paid $139 for a midday session.
Obviously you are given a life jacket and you can also bring sunglasses and a rain jacket as you are guaranteed to get wet. It was great fun!
Situated approx a 10 minute walk (uphill!) from the centre of town is the Skyline Gondola, the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere. Riding on the Gondola (it is basically a cable car) you will climb 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak!
Whilst there are signs indicating that four people should go into each gondola, every couple we saw (including us) had it to themselves. We were quite surprised at how steep it was but it felt completely safe. At the top, there are incredible views over Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak and, of course, Queenstown. A return trip on the gondola is $44 which we thought was slightly on the pricey side. However, we did like that the gondola was private.
However, the main reason we opted for the gondola was to ride on the Skyline Luge at the top. The luge carts, which have been operating for decades, are like non mechanical go karts which take you spiralling down two fun 800m tracks! Expect corners, tunnels and dips and guaranteed fun for all ages. You first go must be on the blue track and then after a practice you is the red track!
After each go on the luge, you just get the chair lift back up to the top to repeat the fun! The combined tickets for the gondola and luge start at $61 for the gondola and 2 luge rides and only go up to $69 for gondola and 6 luge rides. It is super fun, so the more rides the better!
Queenstown Gardens / The Beach
We were lucky with the weather when we visited (mid 20s) so were keen to be outside. Queenstown Gardens is situated behind the waterfront and is a great place to sit and relax (perhaps with a picnic!). Alternatively, go and sit on the small beachfront and dip your feet into the sea. Both options provide beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Make sure you are in town for sunset too – it is stunning.
Experience Queenstown’s busy nightlife!
I had read that Queenstown nightlife was pretty buzzing and that turned out to be very accurate. There was a great atmosphere both nights (Saturday and Sunday) we were there. As the town is pretty compact, you can easily have a bar crawl within a 5-10 minute walk radius. I didn’t come across any cover charges so it was a great way to experience different bars.
You can read about the bars I visited in Queenstown here.
Day trip to Milford Sound
During the ice age, a giant glacier ground its way into the sea creating a deep valley. When the glacier melted, the sea came in creating Milford Sound. Despite the name, Milford Sound is actually a fiord, not a sound! It is the only fiord in New Zealand that is accessible by road.
To reach Milford Sound, you can opt for a coach trip from Queenstown with Southern Discoveries which takes you to the ferry terminal where you embark on the cruise. I opted for the self drive option with our campervan and you can read about our experience here.
East London Girl: Things to do in Queenstown
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