Queenstown is an area known primarily as a ski town and while it’s definitely a hub for visiting the nearby mountains each winter to carve up the snow, it also has plenty of attractions year-round for the adrenalin junkie.
Below are just five of my personal favourites.
There are many jet boating options in the Southern Lakes region near Queenstown. You’ll easily find something to suit all levels of thrill, from scenic leisure rides down the Matukituki River near Wanaka to high speed, close to the cliff, thrill seeking rides through the narrow canyons of the Shotover River.
Bungy Jumping and Canyon Swinging
Queenstown is home to the world's first commercial Bungy operation (pioneered by AJ Hackett Bungy), which opened up at the Kawarau Bridge, and this is still one of the most popular places to jump into the abyss. Stepping off a huge ledge or bridge can be a very liberating experience! For those who aren’t cool with having their legs tied together and hanging upside-down, the seated harness at the Shotover Canyon Swing is a great alternative, and my personal favourite adrenalin rush.
Making use of the mountains when they aren’t covered in snow, the mountain biking trails in Wanaka and Queenstown seem endless. There are options for both beginners and the seasoned rider. Try out the new Queenstown Trail -- over 100 kilometres of trails traversing through old gold mining towns, vineyards, lakes and rivers.
Skydiving is offered in both Wanaka and Queenstown and is one of the best ways to take in the beautiful views. On a clear day you can even see Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3754m) from Wanaka. Enjoy the unique combination of heart pumping adrenalin amid breathtaking views of the surrounding steep mountain peaks made famous by The Lord of the Rings.
White Water Rafting
With this one, you might spend some more time in the water than on it, but you’ll have a blast while you do it. Rafting on The Kawarau River offers exhilarating rafting for first timers or step it up and enjoy the extra excitement and thrills on the Shotover River.
Everything listed above will keep you entertained during the warmer months (and earn you a beer at the end of the day) but if you just can’t help yourself in winter, take your experience on the snow to the next level by trying heli-skiing. Heli-skiing will introduce you to some untouched powder via helicopter, where you can enjoy the peace and some remarkable views (not to mention the lack of crowds or lines for the lift) as you glide down the mountain. Your guide will then fly you back up to find a new, pristine peak to make fresh tracks on. It doesn’t get much better than that!