With so much going on in Queenstown, it can be difficult knowing where to begin and how to maximise your time in this South Island resort town. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, a daring adventure or something out of the ordinary, there is something for the young and old, the adventurous and the soft-hearted.
Take a gondola up for a bird’s eye view of Queenstown
The Skyline Gondola sweeps up to iconic Bob’s Peak, 500m above the town. Be awed by the staggering lake and mountain views on the sky deck that offers a 360-degree view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, but not before feasting at the restaurant that towers above everything else. The restaurant, with its full-length glass windows, offers a one-of-a-kind view that you can take in while indulging in your buffet lunch or dinner.
Tip: Go up at sunset or on a clear night for either a view of Queenstown as the light turns soft or a galaxy of stars that seems so close to you.
Ziptrek down the forest to a view of Lake Wakatipu
Going on a Ziptrek with Ziptrek Ecotours is one way to go downhill while learning about conservation efforts being made to the country and the species that used to inhabit New Zealand. Zip from tree to tree with glimpses of Lake Wakatipu in-between; you can even try your hand at zipping upside down with their fun and knowledgeable guides.
Watch kiwis in their natural habitat
Find out all about this native flightless bird at Kiwi Birdlife Park, where kiwis are taken care in a setting as close to their natural habitat as possible. Watch how the caretakers feed these kiwi birds; you’ll find an innocence to them as they wander about in the dark in search for food.
Ride a horse at Glenorchy
So many people visit Queenstown and miss out on nearby Glenorchy (above). A 40-minute drive northwest of Queenstown, Glenorchy is famous for being the starting point of one of New Zealand’s Top Ten Classic Hikes, the Routeburn Track.
If you’d like to take in Glenorchy in a matter of hours, there is no better way than signing up for a horse-riding session with Dart River Stables. The ride will take you through bushes, across farmland and into rivers. The different landscapes make the entire experience a picturesque one. You’ll be surrounded by The Remarkables, and if you go in November, which I’d highly recommend, you’ll get close to the beautiful lupin flowers that come to full bloom only for a few weeks every November.
Taste New Zealand’s finest wines
There are many regions in the North and South Islands that dedicate themselves wholly to producing the finest wines. You can get your first taste of true New Zealand wine at a winery around Queenstown rather easily. The Central Otago region is renowned for the quality of its pinot noir wines. Amisfield is an hour’s drive from Queenstown, and has 70 per cent of its vineyards dedicated to pinot noir. While in Cromwell nearby, sign up for the 4 Barrels Wine Walking Wine Trail, which will take you past Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum Wines, Scott Base and Wooing Tree. Mount Difficulty is a great place to sit down with a cheese platter and wines to pair with a view of the mountains and their vineyards.
Get on a 4WD adventure with Nomads Safaris
Hop into a 4WD for an exhilarating drive on narrow cliffside gravelled paths, over bumpy terrain and across rivers. The tour also brings you to Arrowtown, an old settlement town built for miners who came here in search of gold and fortune. The Arrow River is said to have one of the world’s richest sources of alluvial gold. These deposits led to the gold rush in the 1860s. Your guide will demonstrate how gold is panned from the river bed, and how the miners used to patiently pick the little gold pieces out amid the debris and mud.
Go wild and get wet with jet boating
If bungy jumping or skydiving are too extreme but you are still keen on an adventure in Queenstown, give jet boating a go. Shotover Jet goes around narrow canyons of the Shotover River at high speed with hair-swooshing 360-degree spins.
Queenstown is truly the epitome of a thriving tourist town, and is possibly the most cosmopolitan town you’ll find in New Zealand. With so many activities on offer, it’s no wonder Queenstown is regarded as Nature’s playground!
– TEXT BY ISABEL LEONG
PHOTOS: DESTINATION QUEENSTOWN (BOB’S PEAK), ZIPTREK ECOTOURS QUEENSTOWN FACEBOOK, KIWI BIRDLIFE PARK FACEBOOK, MISHA’S VINEYARD WINES FACEBOOK, NOMAD SAFARIS FACEBOOK, SHOTOVER JET FACEBOOK, PIXABAY (GLENORCHY)
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.