Things to do in Queenstown – A natural playground

Things to do in Queenstown – A natural playground

Queenstown

Queenstown

Built around an inlet of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by gorgeous mountains, it’s no surprise that we ended up in Queenstown. Almost 50,000 lucky people call Queenstown home and I got to say, I’m very envious. This little slice of heaven is known for its tourism and the official Queenstown website calls it a natural playground. From skiing and other outdoor adventures to water sports and golfing with a second-to-none backdrop, you would need a week there to make sure that you get to do at least a fraction of the fun that they have to offer. Unfortunately I cannot cover it all, but here are some of the best things to do in Queenstown.

Put your feet up

Let’s face it, a place like this will not just be a quick drive-through, so we would need to find you a place to stay, put your feet up and relax in the evenings as the days will be full of activities. Your step counter on your Fitbit will be working overtime and would also need the time to wind down and recharge its batteries. I have found you a place, but for more places to stay you can consult booking.com.

Queenstown Accommodation

The Rees Hotel

Listed as one of booking.com’s top picks to stay in Queenstown, it’s easy to see why. This sophisticated five-star hotel has 60 hotel rooms and 90 apartments, all with terraces for you to enjoy one of the main reasons you went to Queenstown, its spectacular views. Just don’t blame me if you never want to leave the hotel and just sit by the window. I don’t even know why they have a TV when you have that view in the picture below.

Accommodation Queenstown

They have the following features available to make sure that your stay will be unforgettable:

  • A library with rare books and art – I like a library as much as the next person; in fact, growing up I used to spend more time at the library than at home, but when you visit a place like Queenstown, you will not want to sit down and read a book. I guess these are just there for when you and your partner take a quick break and waiting for the the icepacks to work their magic before getting back to business.
  • Courtesy shuttle to and from the city centre – In a place like this you would want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so I would suggest you rather walk…. unless your partner had worn you out too much the previous night.
  • Secure undercover parking – Sounds ominous. Maybe the areas’ birds have no manners and crap where they want to.

More to do that won’t cost you an arm and a leg

  • Fully equipped gymnasium – To get yourself bulked up before squeezing into that speedo.
  • All the regular amenities – High speed wifi, landline, movies on the flatscreen and even a charging station for your car.
  • Own private beach – This alone will be enough to get me to stay at this hotel. Just remember, it might be private, but you won’t be alone. Keep that speedo on at all times. From there you can also access the jet boat and water taxi services and you can even swim across from their wharf, but be sure that you can make it to the other side, otherwise you’ll be getting mouth to mouth from a stranger. YUK!
Hotels in Queenstown

To stay in this hotel with a very limited budget will cost you around £120 or $160 (NZ$235) per room per night for the superior hotel room. For two people I don’t think that it’s pricy at all, but if your surname is Bezos, you can spring for the Lakeside 3 bedroom villa that will set you back around £700 or $900 (NZ$1450) per night. Then I can guarantee you that you won’t leave the hotel. Who would want to?

Jet Boat Ride

Jet Boat Ride Queenstown

Normally you’d do the mundane activities first to get them out of the way, but Queenstown is no ordinary place. Even if you just sit down and do nothing, the gorgeous views around will keep you entertained. Now, unfortunately I cannot promise that you’ll be enjoying the views while zooming along the rapids on a jet boat. That would have to wait for another time.

These people have managed to create a thrill ride on shallow water and between razor sharp rocks, while you are strapped in to a water rocket that Elon Musk would have been proud of and without the usual safety rails and measures normally found at a theme park. And if your driver had the time of his life the previous night, it would be a good time to start praying if you don’t do that already.

Queenstown Jet Boat Ride

They call this a tour and maybe it is…. like the troops going to Afghanistan where their lives are in mortal danger. These 25-min tours costs around £75 or $95 (NZ$150) each and are quite frequent and departs from 3 Arthurs Point Road, Queenstown, so you don’t really have to book too far in advance. For that amount of money I hope that they will provide you with a spare pair of underpants and toilet paper.

They advise the following:

  • These boats can do 360-degree spins and turns, but don’t have a place for you to throw up when they do. I suppose that at that stage you would need to contaminate the water.
  • No wheelchair access.
  • They don’t recommend anyone with back problems or pregnant ladies doing this tour.
  • They provide locker facilities where your next of kin can come and pick up your belongings if you didn’t make it.
  • You need to be at least five years old and 1.2m in height.
  • They provide life jackets for the very shallow water, but I couldn’t find anything about big fluffy cushions to protect you from the surrounding rocks.
Shotover Jet Boat Ride

Not that I have to say that I was just kidding; these people in the photo above are doing it for me. You cannot fake those smiles of pure enjoyment. I’m sure that these drivers know what they are doing and that it is perfectly safe. Do not, I repeat, do not miss this ride should you ever find yourself in Queenstown. If ever there was a must-do activity, this is it, soon’t be a scaredy cat. 🙂

For full details and to book your tickets, check here.

iFLY Queenstown

iFLY Queenstown New Zealand

I want to call this an extreme sport, but I think that it’s more of an extreme replacement. You get to experience the thrills of skydiving without having the worries of possibly turning into a pavement pizza. This is more up my alley as I’ve never really made it a secret that I don’t like flying and if I come hurdling down on top of somebody from way up above, that person will be up my alley.

This 90 min activity will cost you only around £45 or $60 (NZ$90) and you are guaranteed to sit down for dinner next to your partner that night. On the other hand, if their cooking is anything like my wife’s cooking, you’d be better off trying the real thing.

To make this more authentic, you can dress yourselves in camos and pretend that you are skydiving out of a military plane into a war field.

iFLY Queenstown

They advise the following:

  • You cannot weigh more than 136kg (300lbs). I suppose, otherwise they would have to dust off the big fans to keep you in the air.
  • You cannot be pregnant. They don’t want the air to blow into your mouth and the baby out the other side.
  • You cannot be under the influence of drugs and alcohol, because you will already be flying high and don’t need any extra help.
  • You would need to sign waivers and permission slips if you are under 18 years. That’s in case they leave the gate open and you fly away.
  • Service animals are allowed. Easiest way to train your guide dog for the real thing. It scares the crap out of them if they jump out of a plane without practicing first.

The gist is, it’s not too expensive and it’s fun for all ages above three years old. They provide all the safety gear and sessions are very frequent. The restrictions are pretty standard, but don’t worry, we’ll find you something else to do. For full details, please check here, because Tripadviser has all the answers.

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Kiwi Birdlife Park Queenstown

We’re in New Zealand, so it stands to reason that we would have had to see the kiwi at one stage or another. You cannot visit a country and not see their national bird in person. This five-acre breeding sanctuary tour will last around two to three hours and only cost you £30 or $28 (NZ$60). You can find them at 51 Upper Brecon Street, 9300 and there you will be able to see the kiwi and around 20 other native birds and reptiles in their natural habitat.

Queenstown Kiwi Birdlife Park

Take a leisurely stroll through the forest and see if you can glimpse a stream trout, before witnessing kiwi feedings at night. These birds are nocturnal animals and prefer to sleep during the day; kinda like me when I was in my early 20s. This is also what I mentioned before, here everyone can participate. They have wheelchair access and you don’t have to worry that a kiwi will drag your one-year-old into its underground burrow, unless that kiwi grew up in Chernobyl.

Once you’ve enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful surroundings, you can nip down to the cafe for something to eat and to drink. They have light meals and snacks and if you ask nicely, maybe something stronger to drink to take the edge off.

For full details, to book your tickets and your chance to witness other native birds and lizards like the Tuatara, please check here.

Skyline Queenstown

Once again Jaco has delivered and saved the best for last. The main reason that we went to Queenstown was for the magnificent scenery and what better way to view it in all its glory from up above. Sure you can walk or drive, but you are limited to your surroundings. That type of view in the video above can only be seen from up there. They also have plenty of activities to do right there in one place, so two birds.

Ride the Gondola

Queenstown Gondola

Boasting that they have the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, this ride goes up 450m. Wait, what?? I hope that each cable car comes with its own parachute, because that cable is as thin as my….. big toe and the higher up you go, the thinner that cable will look and feel. It will take you up to Bob’s Peak and en route you’ll get to enjoy the amazing views all around, including The Remarkables, Walter, Cecil Peak and Queenstown itself. I suppose that you would have to speak Queenstown to know what the names mean, or you can consult our old friend, Google.

Gondola Queenstown

Once on the top, you can take a walk for some more spectacular views and this time you will get to enjoy it with your feet firmly on the ground. Once your stomach had settled, you can sit down for lunch or dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant and enjoy a sumptuous meal and definitely something stronger to calm the nerves. And with a view like in the picture above, it’s the perfect romantic place to get trapped by your partner. Don’t believe the waiter when he or she brings you a complimentary glass of champagne.

To get to the top will cost you £22 or $28 (NZ$44) per adult and only £13 or $17 (NZ$26) per child, which I don’t think is a lot at all. More packages and family prices are available, so please check here for full details and opening hours.

Queenstown Luge

Queenstown Luge

Opening at 10:00 in the morning, these thrill rides cost next to nothing. Combo packages start from £30 or $38 (NZ$61) per adult and £21.50 or $26 (NZ$43) per child, which includes the cable car ride and two luge rides. The more luge rides you choose with your package, the less you pay with rides three to five only costing a few pennies or NZ$1 each! It’s safe to say that going down once will not be enough.

Luge in Queenstown

These rides take you 1600m through corners, tunnels and dippers and once you reached the bottom, jump on the chair lift and go again. They have three different tracks available and children under six years need to be accompanied by an adult. You also need to be taller than 135cm to ride all the tracks by yourself, so stand on your tippy toes when they do the measuring. If you go off-track by accident, hang on tight, because it will be 450m down to the bottom. I’d rather take my chances with that needle thin cable.

For full details and combo prices and also for their bike rides, walk and hike adventures, please check here.

This is it for Queenstown and it truly is a natural playground. In fact, I only covered a fraction of what there is to do. This is yet another place where you would need at least a week to visit, otherwise you will miss out on some very fun stuff.

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Safe travels.

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