Strap yourselves in for a trip to the “adventure capital of the world”, a party destination with tonnes of heart-racing outdoor experiences – from mountain biking to bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge. That’s not to say it’s all high-octane in Queenstown though. Whatever your preference, Autumn is the ideal time to visit, with long sunny days and lovely warm temperatures.
New Zealand’s South Island certainly isn’t short of spectacular locations, but Queenstown, surrounded by the Southern Alps and on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, has a wealth of attractions as well as its beautiful scenery. Be sure to check out the often-overlooked markets, restaurants and gardens of the town, and whatever you do, make sure you grab a Fergburger while you’re there – just prepare for the queue.
If you want to save your precious bucks to spend at the countless number of bars in Queenstown, there are loads of money-saving hostels to choose from. Or if you’d rather splash the cash on something nicer, and possibly a bit less smelly, there are plenty of hotels and apartments to plump for as well. We’ve hand-selected some of our favourites below, along with the must-visit attractions in Queenstown this Autumn.
You can’t come to the birthplace of the bungee jump without actually trying it, or at least seeing it in action. Kawarau Bridge is where it all started. The 43m fall can either be done alone or as a tandem. Dive headfirst or maybe even backwards, feel yourself touch the water, then spring back up. You’ll be reassured to hear in over a million jumps, there hasn’t been a single death. And if the stats still aren’t enough to convince you, the trek through the forest to get to the bridge and watching people jump off it is still a great day out. There’s also the Nevis Bungy in Queenstown, New Zealand’s highest jump at 134m.
For anyone that loves a panoramic view, the Skyline Gondola is an absolute must. For anyone scared of heights, what are you doing in Queenstown? The unfathomably steep cable car takes you 450m above Lake Wakatipu up to Bob’s Peak, where you can look out towards Coronet Peak, the Remarkables mountain range and over the whole of Queenstown. Enjoy the views with a swig of something refreshing from the bar at the top. Then how do you get back down, you ask? Zoom down on the luge. Or you could take the gondola back, but that wouldn’t be keeping in the spirit of this adventurous New Zealand town.
Although slightly out of Queenstown, it’s around a 15-minute drive, it’s well worth the journey. Step back in time and stroll through the working settlement town. Think wild-west style timber-framed buildings and Victorian lamp posts in the street. Then look around and be dazzled by the breathtaking alpine forests that overlook the town. Browse through the gift shops or try your hand on the golf course. There are some incredible hikes nearby, as well as cycling routes. Bike hire is available from the town.
Missing the ski season? Fear not. Bomb down a mountain cycling at the Queenstown Bike Park instead – New Zealand’s first Gondola assisted bike park. Take the Skyline Gondola up to Bob’s Peak and there are over 30 different trails to choose from, totalling over 30km of 450m descent. Hang on though, there are loads of bumps, jumps and hairpin turns along the way. For a more scenic, yet still challenging, cycle, head up to Rude Rock and Skipper Canyon for a scenic ride across jagged peaks. There’s the Moke Lake Circuit for a more relaxing mountain biking experience.
Not everything has to go at million-miles-an-hour speeds in Queenstown. Make the most of the Autumn weather and take a relaxing stroll through the botanical gardens in the town. The pristine park looks like something from a painting, with its exotic trees, colourful flowers and romantic bridge over the pond. The entire trail is around an hour and a half and takes you along Lake Wakatipu as well. There’s an 18 basket disc golf course in the gardens to keep you entertained, or we’d recommend taking-out a coffee from the town and bringing it on your lap around the Queenstown Gardens.