Arriving in Queenstown is pretty straightforward, but we were very nearly diverted to Christchurch due to bad weather. There were really bad crosswinds and if I hadn’t been so jet-lagged I would have been terrified when we were approaching the runway of the tiny Queenstown airport whilst facing the nearby mountains. Although this town had been labelled the adrenaline capital of the world, I wasn’t expecting the excitement to begin before we even touched down. After that, they closed the airport and no further planes were allowed to take off or land!
Queenstown airport is just a 10 minute taxi ride to the town centre, so once you’ve wandered through the airport (which is tiny) it won’t be long until you’re at your hotel!
We didn’t do as much as we should have whilst we herein Queenstown, but we’re some of the highlights!
I had only been married for a week and I was about to chuck myself out of a place. Queue marriage-related jokes.
Despite watching the experienced staff pack both my main parachute and a reserve chute, I was exceptionally nervous – the kind of nervous that makes tears form in your eyes whilst you grin like the Cheshire Cat and your legs twitch uncontrollably. Not the best look.
I don’t remember the walk to the plane, nor the ascent to way-beyond the clouds. In the blink of a watery eye, I was strapped tightly to the front of a man who – until 15 minutes ago – I had never met, then suddenly the whole left side of the small propeller-plane was pushed to one side and my new acquaintance and I shuffled awkwardly to the edge of the fuselage.
I peeled my eyes open in an effort to ensure I didn’t miss any detail of New Zealand’s legendary landscape whilst repeatedly swallowing the ball of terror forcing its way up from the pit of my stomach.
The weight of the bloke strapped to my back forced my body to accelerate much faster than my gut was prepared for. The view was ridiculous and the 60 second 200kph free-fall was such a buzz! The parachute part was much more gentle and a massive relief. My landing lacked finesse and was slightly un-dignified but I was just glad I’d made it back in one piece!
I did my skydive with the uber-popular “N-zone” and honestly couldn’t recommend the experience more!
Jet Boat Ride
For a relatively small fee, you can hop into a super-fast jet boat and be thrown about to within an inch of your life, all for fun! The trip takes you around the lake and up the rivers (through some ridiculously shallow water) and a few rapids. It’s great fun but be prepared to get wet and don’t forget your sunglasses (for the brightness and to protect from getting water in your eyes)!
We went on the KJet – a nice feature of the boat was that it had heated hand rails, which for someone like me who always has cold hands, is a huge blessing!
Queenstown’s legendary burger joint is known to have queues all the way around the block at peak times. Make sure you get yourself down there at some point to sample their cracking nosh. Don’t expect to get a seat unless you’re willing to eat at an unusual time. Instead, grab the burger to go and sit on the wall on the water’s edge. Make sure you put your rubbish in the bin- I accidentally lost my burger wrapper and felt very guilty as it was the only piece of litter I saw in New Zealand!
There are loads of hiking trails starting in Queenstown – we decided to try and run one of them, but the uphill terrain got the better of us. We ran in and around town a few times, and round the outskirts of the lake instead, since we were clearly not fit enough to tackle the hills!
The fillet steak at Lone Star was so good it deserves a mention. It’s in my top 5 steaks in the world, which is currently topped by a still –on-the-bone caveman-worthy whopper steak that we stumbled across whilst we were stranded in Death Valley by the flash floods.
A helpful local couple pointed us in the direction of bookme.nz and we used it to book the KJet and also to look for activities further along our route. Definitely worth a look as there were some bargains on there!
What did we miss?
We were so tired when we arrived from Hong Kong that we spent a lot of time chilling out in Queenstown and we also suffered as a consequence of eating street food from the markets in Hong Kong before we flew to NZ.
Given this was our first major trip, we were also guilty of not really planning as well as we could have done! If we went back again, which I’m sure we will do, here’s what I’d have on my list:
- The canyon swing – a terrifying swing across a canyon, as it says in the title really.
- A bungee jump. Now I’ve done the skydive, I would like to try a bungee! I would only really feel confident trying it somewhere like NZ, where safety standards are high!
- Kayaking on the lake
- Snowboarding on the Remarkables. I admit I didn’t even know the remarkable were a thing until I saw them. Simply beautiful.
Would I go back?
I would go back tomorrow! Queenstown is without a doubt one of my favourite places in the world!
The 5 Week Wanderer
Planning a trip to Queenstown?
Check out my holiday planning page for tips on cramming in as much action as possible!