AJ Hackett was definitely onto something when he established New Zealand’s first commercial bungy operation in 1988. The country’s (and the world’s) love affair with the extreme sport just blossomed from there, and the original Kawarau Bridge bungy is still going strong today. Along with being one of the most famous adrenaline-inducing places in the world, Kawarau Bridge is the only place in Queenstown to offer tandem jumping experiences.
Queenstown is surrounded by ski resorts – in fact, the town is the gateway to some of the very best in New Zealand. The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone are all within a short drive from the town centre, and many ski passes will give you access to multiple fields at once. Transport from town is usually included in those packages, and you can purchase them online or upon arrival.
One of the best things about Queenstown is that seasonal changes are never an issue. There’s so much to check out during the year: from the annual Winter Festival, to cool summer concerts and an incredibly dynamic live music scene. Also, unlike certain places in the Central Otago region, Queenstown’s weekend markets are not restricted to the summer months. Other popular year-round attractions include jet boating, hiking, canyon swinging, and scenic cruises.
Queenstown is regularly rated as one of the friendliest cities in the world. Conde Nast magazine continues to rank it among the top 10, and with very good reason too. Kiwis are incredibly friendly by nature, and will be more than happy to out anyone who is lost or needs a few extra pointers. Hospitality is something they take a lot of pride in, so expect people working in restaurants, bars, hotels, and retail places to be quite helpful and friendly too.
Arrowtown, which is a mere 15-minute drive from Queenstown, is one of the South Island’s best known historic settlements. It is a former gold mining hub which has worked hard to preserve its heritage and history. Many of the buildings along the main street were built during the gold mining days, and are now home to many everyday venues like cafés, shops and offices. The Millennium Walk and Macetown biking trail are some of the popular options for those exploring Arrowtown’s surroundings.
Jet boating, bungy jumping, canyoning, white water rafting, the luge… you’d be hard-pressed to find an adventure activity that doesn’t make the list of Queenstown must-dos. At the same time, there are also plenty of serene places to unwind, from parks and gardens, to scenic getaways, and the region’s viticultural treasures. So really, Queenstown is bound to be right up everyone’s alley.
Travelling with kids? No worries — Queenstown knows to keep all family members entertained. From video game arcades to go-karting and ice skating, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to family-friendly expeditions. Snow lovers should definitely keep an eye out for family passes for the area’s ski resorts, and chilled-out families will absolutely love the TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak farm.
Whether you’re wanting to splurge on a boutique hotel or you need to stick to a budget, you won’t be short of accommodation options in Queenstown. The only thing to keep in mind is that the most coveted venues, from AirBnBs to backpackers, fill up pretty fast. For full peace of mind, it’s best to book your accommodation as early as possible.
Lake Wakatipu, a trove of alpine ranges, postcard worthy vistas and an all-round unspoiled scenery. If you want to get the most out of the South Island’s sublime backdrop, Queenstown is one of the best places to do it. Climb up Bob’s Peak to get a full panorama of the town, or soak up the stunning lakeside views by going on a picnic.