Its winter again in the southern hemisphere and for me there is only one destination that I want visit at this time of the year. This is of course…Queenstown, New Zealand.
Having visited the place a number of times, it never seems to lose its appeal as there is a lot on offer and it’s so scenically beautiful. For example the last few times I was there I was hitting the slopes at Coronet Peak, getting spa treatments at LeSpa, speeding along Dart River in a jet boat and cruising along Milford Sound. So whether I’m up for pure adrenaline, sightseeing or some rest and relaxation I can always find something new to try.
If you’re after a cheap and fun-filled holiday this winter, then Queenstown is a great place to consider.
Here is a list of five must do’s while in Queenstown to get you thinking:
1. Hit the slopes at Cornet Peak and The Remarkables
Queenstown is the winter destination for skiers and snowboarders in New Zealand and as the powder and temperature continues to fall, the town heats up this time of the year until early October, alive with tourists hitting the nearby ski fields.
Cornet Peak – located 20 minutes from Queenstown, snow bunnies can explore 280 hectares of exhilarating terrain suitable for all levels. Start your day early with their First Tracks open from 8am otherwise if the evening is more your thing than check out the Night Skiing on Fridays and Saturdays until 9pm. Their base area is a great place to retreat if exhausted or starving offering various restaurant, bar and café options and it’s the best spot to watch the skiers make their way down the slopes.
The Remarkables – Located high in The Remarkables mountain range, 45 minutes from Queenstown, it offers a true alpine experience. Their multiple terrain parks are very impressive, and the new Burton Stash Park adds to the variety of opportunities for shredders. Not only is it suited for beginners but also boasts some advanced terrain and steep chutes for extreme skiers who don’t mind going for a hike. Alternatively head to their Ozone Tubing park for some snow tubing.
Both ski fields offer private and group lessons and there are storage, repairs and rentals available on-site.
Various packages available via www.nzski.com
2. Bungy jump AJ Hackett style
Home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump and set up by kiwi, AJ Hackett, it’s a no brainer this heart stopping, stomach dropping activity would be a must do. So muster up the courage and conquer any or all of the bungy sites in Queenstown.
Kawarau Bridge Bungy – the place where it all began in 1988 is still the best-loved bungy site in the world, attracting tens of thousands of jumpers each year. Thrill seekers can choose to go tandem (Queenstown’s only tandem bungy) or solo, and then decide if they want to bob above the water, touch it or get dunked into the Kawarau River.
The Ledge Bungy – unique from other bungy sites, it’s equipped with its own runway allowing jumpers to gain some serious speed before propelling themselves 400 metres above Queenstown, where they’ll get one of the best and scariest views in town.
The Nevis – this is the mother of all bungies in New Zealand and its one hell of a jump located 134 metres above the Nevis River. Falling for 8.5 seconds from the highwire cable car, it’s definitely not for the timid, but if you can conquer this then you will earn some serious bragging rights as all pro jumpers know of the Nevis.
*Swings are also available to do at The Ledge Bungy and The Nevis.
Cost: $180-$260 (NZD)
Bookings and transfers: AJ Hackett Bungy, Corner of Camp & Shotover Streets
3. Enjoy a burger or two at Fergburger
No visit to Queenstown is complete without stopping by this renowned burger joint. Set up in 2001 for the late night revellers with the munchies, it wasn’t long before its popularity exploded creating a cult following and becoming a dining favourite for all tourists and locals. No matter what time it is, Fergburger (which is open 21 hours a day) is always abuzz with fergaddicts getting their fix.
Serving up a delicious range of gourmet burgers, 20 in total, all are made with fresh ingredients and possess quirky names such as Bun Laden, Holier than Thou, Sweet Bambi and The Codfather. One of the crowd favourites is Cockadoodle Oink consisting of butterflied & crumbed chicken breast, American streaky bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli & tomato relish. However if you’re up for a real challenge and not afraid of getting lock-jaw, then try the Big Al. Packed with a double serving of prime New Zealand beef (1/2lb), lashings of bacon, a whole lot of cheese, two eggs, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish & a wad of aioli, it will make any burger lover think twice.
Cost: Burgers from $10-18.50 (NZD)
Where: Fergburger, 42 Shotover Street
4. Shotover Canyon Swing
Known as the “world’s highest cliff jump”, this terrifying ride is sure to make any butch bloke scream like a 12 year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Once standing on the cliff platform raised 109m above the Shotover River, thrill seekers freefall 60m into the canyon taking in the stunning scenery before swinging like a pendulum at 150kpm for 200m across the gorge.
As you wait in line you notice there are over 10 different jumpstyles on offer ranging from scary to very very very scary. For those nervous folk the Cutaway is the option for you, being one of the easiest, you’re suspended over the canyon in the sitting position which you will remain in for the whole swing. But for those fearless jumpers then Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood, The Chair or Jumpmaster’s Choice is more up your alley. Let’s just say the first option you’re hanging upside down staring directly at the canyon floor, the second you’re strapped into a chair and the third leaves it up to the jumpmaster to decide – be warned these will see the jumpers at the mercy of those cheeky kiwis, so prepare to be messed with.
Cost: $199 (NZD) a swing, $39 (NZD) per additional swings
Bookings and transfers: Shotover Canyon Swing Shop, 37 Shotover Street, Queenstown
5. Skydive over Queenstown
If the thought of throwing yourself out of an aircraft at 15,000ft, travelling at 200kph gets you excited, then a Skydive in Queenstown is for you. Home of the tandem skydive, you will be partnered up with a qualified Nzone jumpmaster who’ll guide you through the whole adrenaline pumping, face rippling experience. As you arrive at the dropzone, you’ll immediately see skydivers in the air and making their landings, and it’s this very moment you realise what you’ve truly got yourself into. After the training it’s into the plane all geared up where you can choose to accent to an altitude and freefall of 9,000ft, 12,000ft or 15,000ft. Soaring high above the Wakatipu basin, skydivers exit the plane, freefalling for up to 60 seconds before the tandem master deploys the parachute. It’s during the canopy ride where you’ll really take in and enjoy the bird’s eye view of the crystal clear lakes and rocky mountain ranges below. The whole mind blowing experience lasts for 5-7 minutes and as your feet touches the ground, you’ll be on a high, feeling fearless and wanting to do it all over again!
Tip: Book skydiving early during your stay to allow for cancellations and re-scheduling as it’s highly weather dependent.
Cost: Skydives start from $269 – $429 (NZD) per person
Bookings and transfers: Nzone Skydive Centre, 35 Shotover Street
For information on airfares, accommodation and ski passes check out Flight Centre who are offering great ski holiday deals.
What are your must do activities for Queenstown?