Built around an inlet on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown was well-known to the area’s native Maori tribes prior to the arrival of Europeans. Nathanael Chalmers was the first European explorer to see the lake in 1853. Today, New Zealanders are affectionately known as ‘Kiwis’, named after the native bird found only in this part of the world. The Kiwi is the national bird and symbol of New Zealand.
New Zealand ― particularly Queenstown ― is commonly known as ‘The Adventure Capital of the World.’ The island’s majestic, natural beauty includes mountains, lakes, deep valleys, and crystal blue rivers that set the stage for nearly every adventure sport you can imagine. Adventure tours are easy to book and come with package deals, so you can experience a variety of thrills. There is no shortage of things to do in Queenstown.
In 1988, AJ Hackett founded the first commercial bungee jump site at the Kawarau Bridge. Still one of the most famous jumps in the world, it’s the only place in Queenstown where you can jump in tandem with a partner. It’s also one of the most exciting options for what to do in Queenstown.
The Kawarau Bridge site offers both a bungee and a zip ride. The Ledge Bungy lets you customize your bungee experience using their ‘Jumps Menu’, which includes night jumps! The highest bungee reaches 134 m (440 ft) above the Nevis River.
Somehow, I remained calm and didn’t hesitate when it came time to swan dive from the ledge. No rollercoaster or skydive can prepare you for the rush of descending from above the Nevis. For the first millisecond, my heart was in my throat. What followed was pure adrenaline.
The next stage of the epic trip was to try my hand at hang gliding, with the assistance of the elite, highly professional Skytrek Company. After being picked up at a convenient location in town, I was driven up a mountain to the jump site. If you are inexperienced, like me, you ride with a guide.
My guide gave me a brief explanation of how to sync our leap from the mountain and ensure that I lifted my feet. There’s no better way to combine an adrenaline rush with an unmatched, 20-minute aerial view of New Zealand’s natural beauty ― one of the greatest attractions for Queenstown travel.
The Shotover Jet is a specially designed speedboat that careens down a river at 50 miles per hour, while doing 360-degree turns. There is a 100% chance you will get wet, but this ride is a perfect activity for the whole family. Bring the kids and relatives!
NZONE offers tandem skydiving over some of the most dramatic scenery in the country. Pack up, strap on, and get ready to jump from 15,000 feet. Feel your cheeks conform to the wind, as you plummet earthward. Your guide pulls the parachute release for you. So, after the heroic freefall, you can enjoy the view for 5-minutes as you float to a safe landing.
I grew up with an older brother who had his own ATV. As a girl, I wanted to do everything he did: skateboard, play guitar, and ride around the neighborhood on his four-wheeler. Whenever I get a chance to jump aboard one of these bad boys for an off-road adventure, it takes me right back to my roots. Off Road NZ has a great safety record and good prices.
I highly recommend riding up the Skyline gondola to enjoy a lunch with incredible views. If you’re keen on continuing the adventure aspect of your trip, take a few spins on the Skyline Luge, which is like riding go-carts shaped like ice luges. There are trails to descend from the skyline by way of mountain bike, and you can easily attach your bike to the gondola on the ascent.
Another opportunity for what to do in Queenstown is exploring the breathtaking Queenstown alps in a helicopter, the Alpine Heli, as the aircraft weaves through the snow-capped mountains. You can turn this into a romantic picnic away from other tourists, or you can “get real” and do what you’re supposed to in Queenstown: heli-skiing.
Milford Sound has been referred to as one of the natural wonders of the world. The best way to explore the area is with Milford Sound Boat Cruises. Get up close and personal with the local wildlife, as you paddle parallel to the sources of sound on a kayak.
Tour the vineyards at the Gibbston Valley Winery, and experience wine tasting in New Zealand’s largest wine cave. Grab lunch at the restaurant, and look on as workers harvest and craft wine right in front of you. The winery is friendly to all; you don’t have to be a wine buff to enjoy visiting.
Adrenaline-pumping days can become leisurely, with a little pampering at the Onsen Hot Pools. Each pool is filled with a blend of mountain spring water, rainwater, and lake water, and is equally comforting during summer and winter.
If you get too hot, push the button at your spa station, and let cold water pour down from above your head. You can also open the roof for a fine view of the Shotover, with jets peeling down the river below. Even with the roof open, you still have full privacy. If you love spas, put this establishment near the top of the list for what to do in Queenstown.
If you’re looking for a drinking spot for a wild night out with friends, Winnies is the place to go to. Whether it’s for live bands or DJs, the layout is perfect for dancing ― and the presence of locals adds an indigenous aura to the ambiance.
Another bar that comes with great recommendations from locals is Tardis, which focuses on playing great music to create a cool vibe. The name of the bar is a reference to the iconic British TV series Dr. Who.
The majority of the crowd consists of Kiwis, but there are intriguing aspects of Tardis that catch the eye of tourists. The American-style hot dogs sold here are famous, and the Tardis merchandise available for Dr. Who fans makes it an eclectic option for what to do in Queenstown.
Now that you have exciting options for what to do on your Queenstown travel trip, it’s time to visit our store, so you can pack the perfect clothes for the adventure!