Queenstown is arguably the adventure capital of the world. Ever since AJ Hackett Bungy invented the crazy sport of Bungee Jumping in this town in New Zealand in 1988, Queenstown had become synonymous with Adventure Sports. If skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, jet boating and sky diving doesn’t appeal to you, the picture postcard scenery definitely will. Personally speaking, my favourite was the Steamer Ride on Lake Wakatipu surrounded by Remarkable Mountain Range.
Queenstown has an Airport and is connected locally to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. In fact Air New Zealand and Qantas also connects it to some international destinations directly. One can also drive down from Christchurch to Queenstown, and that will take around 6 hours.
The Kawarau Bridge is the world’s first and most popular Bungee Jumping site. Ever since AJ Hackett started this crazy sport, tens of thousands of people have done this 43 meter jump from the Kawarau Bridge. You can do this solo or in tandem with a partner, not that the latter is any less frightening. More choices are to bob above the water, touch it, and get fully immersed! What is amazing about Kawarau Bridge is the impeccable safety record of a million plus jumps over 2 decades.
If 43 meters is chicken play for you, Nevis Bungy is an alternative. It starts with a half an hour drive in a 4X4 across mountain country. Then you get to jump from a high wire Cable Car all the way down over 134 meters. The turmoil lasts 8.5 seconds!
Ledge Bungy is even crazier than Kawarau and Nevis. There are 10 ways to jump at the Ledge including the infamous Flying Squirrel, The Matrix, Back-flip, and The Karate Kid". The Gainer is supposed to be meant for the extreme types!
TSS Earnslaw is a 1912 vintage twin screw steamer. Earnslaw was originally built by the New Zealand Railways as a Steamship for Lake Wakatipu and since 1968 has become a famous tourist attraction. A ride on this steamer across Lake Wakatipu is indeed heavenly. The lake is serene and is surrounded by the majestic Remarkable Mountain Range. Besides yours truly, this 100 year old Ship has carried celebrities like Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, King & Queen of Belgium and the Prince of Thailand.
For those who find the Steamer too slow, Jet Boating at Kawarau is an option. This 43 KM ride across Lake Wakatipu, Shotover River and Kawarau River lasts an hour. There is an Underwater Observatory beneath the Lake where you can feed the fishes as you return to the Main Pier.
The best way to begin the day at Queenstown is to take a Hot Air Balloon flight at Dawn. The aerial view is panoramic. Champagne is served upon landing!
The nature cruise at Milford Sound is an incredible experience. Milford Sound is a natural wonder with its fiords, tall mountains, rainforests and wild life. The Flight over the Southern Alps from Queenstown to Milford is very picturesque. This is followed by a Scenic Cruise where you get to see rainforests, remote valleys, cascading waterfalls and Lakes.
The Skyline Complex is the most dominant structure in the landscape of Queenstown. A Gondola is the only way to reach the Skyline from the ground. It is supposed to be the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere! There are several observation decks that provide breathtaking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkable Mountains, Lake Wakatipu, Cecil and Walter Peaks.
The Luge ride at Skyline is a must do. It’s a gravity ride on the 3 wheeled Luge Cart across 800 meters with option of a scenic or adventure track. The latter is more thrilling courtesy a steeper gradient, banked corners, a tunnel, dips and hollows. The Braking and Steering systems ensure you are always in control.
Called affectionately as the 'Whistler of the Southern Hemisphere', the Queenstown Bike Park provides a Gondola accessed downhill Mountain biking. It is 790 vertical meters above sea level with 500 meters of uplift from the bottom to the top of the Skyline-operated gondola. The trails vary from natural single track, rock garden, fast bermed & groomed to off-camber goat tracks.
Queenstown is fast emerging as a Wine Trail destination. Many Wine Critics claim that world’s best Sauvignon Blanc is produced in New Zealand. New Zealand Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah and Merol are some of the more famous wines produced here.
William Gilbert Rees and fellow explorer Nicholas Von Tunzelman were the first Europeans to reach Queenstown in 1860. They had come in search of Pastoral Land. By 1862, Gold was discovered on the Arrow River and gold Rush began. Legend has it that a local Gold Digger exclaimed that this place was fit for Queen Victoria and that’s how Queenstown got its name. Today, Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world attracting millions of tourists from all over the world.
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