Five things to do in Queenstown (that aren’t skiing)
Probably best known for its incredible snowfields (they’ve even named one The Remarkables), there is no denying that skiing is one of the top activities to do in Queenstown. But with the ski season only stretching from June to early-October, that leaves seven months of non-ski-related travel dates. So how should you fill them? Niamh visited the South Island in early March to find out:
Queenstown is frequently called the “adrenaline capital of the world” and there’s certainly no shortage of activities to scare the pants off you.
Home to the world’s first commercial bungy-jump, thrill-seekers have many options here. Choose from the Ledge Bungy at Skyline Queenstown, the original 43m-high Kawarau Bridge jump or the Nevis Bungy -- New Zealand’s highest jump at 143m. There is also the world’s biggest canyon swing which takes you on a 300m arc across a valley; I did this personally and can definitely recommend.
(Activities by AJ Hackett, prices start from NZ$195 per person)
An 18-hole Frisbee golf course around Queenstown Gardens is a great way to spend an afternoon in the fresh air while taking in stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu.
(Run by Queenstown Disc Golf Club; Frisbees cost NZ$5 or free if you provide your own)
Skyline Queenstown and Luge
There is nothing quite like taking a gondola to the top of a mountain and enjoying the views; unless there’s another gondola at the summit that takes you even further up! The Skyline Gondola takes you 800m up Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve where you can drink, dine or simply take in the views.
Anyone who opts for a luge add-on can pick up a helmet and make their way to a secondary gondola where a luge course awaits at the top. Luging is basically downhill go-karting but don’t let the juvenile description fool you -- this activity is suitable for all ages and is seriously addictive. Purchase the 5-ride ticket for maximum enjoyment; you won’t regret it!
(Gondola and luging are operated by Skyline Queenstown, prices start from NZ$33 per person for the gondola or NZ$47 per person for gondola and two luge rides)
Queenstown Hill Time Walk
The 1.5km trek to the top of Te Tapu-nui does require some fitness but is easily completed from the town in a few hours and you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of the valley. Along the walk, you will be taken through a fur tree forest, learn about Queenstown’s history from illustrated information boards and see neatly stacked bundles or rocks. Once you spot the big iron-worked "Dream Basket", you know you’ve reached the top (in case the views didn’t give it away).
(The trek starts on Belfast St in Queenstown and is free)
Eating and Drinking
You can’t leave Queenstown without trying the illustrious Fergberger. Globally known despite being the only outlet in the world, in 2011 the burger-maker was joined by Fergbaker; a café located next door that offers a selection of meat pies, sausage rolls, pastries and an ice-cream counter known as Mrs Ferg. Other notable dining options include Pedro’s House of Lamb (when in NZ eh?) and Smiths – Craft Beer House. There are also numerous wineries within an hour’s drive of Queenstown with many offering guided tours and tastings in the summer months.
(Fergberger’s start from NZ$12.50 and are totally worth it)