You will want a window seat when landing in Queenstown on Air New Zealand. This city, shrouded by mountains, is the Adventure Capitol of the World! While Queenstown is relatively a small town you will never be bored here. 3-400 residents welcome visitors from around the world to ski, snowboard, jetboat, kayak, horse ride, paraglide, onto of boasting an impressive array of worldwide cuisine and award winning pinot noir. We flew down from Auckland in just 1.5 hours landing on a crisp Winter day. The breathtaking view is something you will never get used to. No matter what time of day, sunny, cloudy, or rainy, the surroundings shift to a postcard perfect moment.
Pictured below are the “Top 10 Activities” we did in Queenstown
1. Shotover Jet
50 years running now is the world famous Shotover Jet. These impressive jet-boats skid and pull 360-degree turns in as low as 5 cm of water going at speeds more than 80 kph through the rugged Shotover River Canyons . Around 15-20 minute ride on this jet gave us a good welcome to Queenstown.
Tips: No cameras are allowed on the boat as they will get flung from your hands or get wet. Go-pros are only allowed if they are strapped to your head. Water-proof and life jackets are given to you, but I would recommend brining a wrap to cover your cheeks and wear the goggles or sunglasses. The handle bars are heated;)
2. Skyline – Gondola + Luge
Choose your bundle at the bottom for a bit of a discount. For $49 we got a gondola ride to the top of the Skyline with a few rides down on the luge. We chose to ride the luge twice as the first time you are given a blue coloured beginners ride and, as we discovered, the other red colour ride is much more curvaceous and fun. Once you advance from the blue colour and are used to your vehicle, you are able to go on the red, so go even 3-4 times to max the fun.
Tip: The view from the look out point is breath-taking. Perfect for a panorama shot.
This 5-star boutique hotel is conveniently situated at the bottom of the gondola ride and only 2-3 minutes walk to the center of the town. We didn’t choose this hotel for it’s accessibility alone, but for it’s superior hospitality. Only 7 years young, they have repeated travellers choice awards, spotless rooms, delicious breakfast, and parking for our rental car making it the perfect accommodation for any type of traveler.
Oh, the infamous Fergburger. We got so many comments and recommendations prompting us to check out this mainstay in Queenstown. What they didn’t mention at all was the colossal size of the burger. Going for the Fergburger with blu cheese, it came out the size of my face. Thank god we were hungry after the Shotover Jet, gondola, and luge we scarfed it down with fries and onion rings on the side. YUM!
Tip: Fergbaker next door is delicious as well! We often took away a meat pie for snacks and, on one evening, chocolate eclairs, chocolate cake and cream filled donuts to wash down with a local bottle of Pinot Noir in the onsen (at the end of our trip).
On a rainy day…
5. Amisfield Winery Bistro – Trust the chef with wine matching
Just a drive down from Arrowtown, historically charming and quirky gold-rush village, is Amisfield. An enchanting stand alone stone building dedicated to food and wine. A daily changing a la carte and signature “Trust the Chef” menu offered us our best meal yet. A shared dining experience, the food is an elegantly prepared expression of local seasonal ingredients and an ultimate complement to the wines from Amisfield vineyards.
The Ride of The Rings: a half day riding option excursion that combines a beautiful 4WD tour to Paradise and a horse ride in the majestic Dart Valley. The knowledgable guides pointed out all the filming spots on the way in Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, X-men, and let us ride the movie-star horses from the films in a walking trek.
7. Dart River Wilderness Jet Boat Ride
After traveling by horse and jet boat, it was hard to go back to driving. The jet boat took us on an exhilarating hour long journey on the dart river to discover the nooks and crannies up and down this incredibly wide, glacial river. In between screams and 360 spins, the alternative scenic view of the snow-peak mountains and untouched wilderness of New Zealand was a beauty to behold.
Tip: On the way to the dock, the bus drive takes you to first visit the area’s historic Greenstone trail and Maori legends. There is an informative walk amongst ancient beech forest before the jet boat ride.
8. Madam Woo
Fun modern Malaysian food is served at this Master Chef and judge, Josh Emmett. Madam Woo’s take on Chinese/Malaysian street food is hearty and bursting with big bold flavours. It gave us a great sense of home and, paired with the local Pinot Noir, was the perfect end to an action packed day.
The greatest send off ever! This inventive cliff jump swings you 109 metres into a canyon in over 70 different jump styles. The jump masters expertly manage the scariness for everyone recommending and teaching you how to master each jump successfully. Rain, snow, or shine, ‘depart’ the platform and freefall 60m down into the canyon until the ropes smoothly swings you into a giant 200m swing.
Tips: Being harnessed around your waist versus your ankles gives more freedom and doesn’t leaving you hanging upside down. The ride back up to the top is quickly motorised and left us in good spirits to jump a second time. Watch the entire process in the videos below. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
That concludes our journey. We fly home on Air New Zealand via Auckland to Singapore. We will never forget New Zealand. The rugged pure beauty of its landscape, creatures, and accommodating nature of Queenstown beckons us to visit again. We will be back again to experience the exhilarating thrill of this country and it’s people. Until we meet again!
Liv and Henry