When unsurprisingly deciding on Queenstown as one of the stops on my recent New Zealand family road trip, a travel agent informed us of its popular range of extreme adrenaline activities. Anyone that knows me will most likely be aware that myself and the phrase ‘extreme adrenaline’ are not often used in each other’s company. In fact, the most extreme sport I took part in was hiking. So, while this little guide may not contain any bungy jumping (I’m working on the fear of flying first), here’s a few ideas of what to do that won’t significantly increase your heart rate, should you be in Queenstown.
*Side note* (not that the whole intro wasn’t just me going off on a tangent). Wanaka is great place to stop en route to Queenstown. As it doesn’t fit in with the very original subtitles of ‘what to do’ and ‘where to eat’, I’m throwing it in here. One image had attracted me to Wanaka – the lone tree of Wanaka lake. Search for it on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll be flooded with photos of this one tree with cool reflections in the lake and every colour sky in the background. However, assuming due to lack of rain, the day I stopped by the tree wasn’t actually in the lake – a little bit of a let-down after talking about it for the past 4-hour car journey, and an obvious invitation for my dad to point out every tree/log/rock in a body of water for the rest of the holiday and ask if I’d like to stop and take a photo. (Joking aside, it’s a pretty place, probably even prettier should the weather be on your side). Back to Queenstown…
What to do
Queenstown hill – Conveniently close to town, this is a steep but short walk which only takes about 2.5 hours in total. The views of lake Wakatipu and the city at the summit (907m) are stunning, and there’s also an iron structure called ‘the basket of dreams’ near the top which you may find cute if you’re anything like me. I feel like ‘Queenstown mountain’ would be a more appropriate name though.
Shopping – Shopping in Queenstown mainly consists of sports shops and New Zealand souvenir shops. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to luxury brands (or window shop) in the town’s boutique stores. Nearby Frankton has a large retail park should you have a car.
Queenstown Garden – Nice to walk through on your way into town, and has Frisbee golf stations throughout the park (which reminded me of ‘disc golf’ from Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101).
Arrowtown – Approximately a 15 minute drive from Queenstown is the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown. This is a quaint little town to stop for lunch, and has an early Chinese settlement which is interesting to look around too.
Go to an ice bar – Queenstown is home to two ice-bars: Minus 5° (Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach St) (which I went to), and Below Zero (Searle Lane). Most people only go for the novelty factor and photo opportunity, because let’s be honest it’s cheesy, but fun nonetheless. Find discounts and 2 for 1 vouchers in leaflets at information centres/hotel receptions or online (you don’t need to pay full price).
Where to eat
Pub on Wharf (88 Beach St) – Decent pub food, worth a visit for the nachos alone.
Fergburger (42 Shotover St) – Chances are that you’ve heard of Fergburger. Despite only having one location, this gourmet burger company has gained international recognition. The burgers (some with quite close to the mark names) attract tourists at all times of the day, so be prepared for a worthwhile wait. Devil Burger (5/11 Church St) was also highly recommended if you don’t fancy queuing.
Fergbaker (40 Shotover St) – Less known but more worth the hype in my opinion are the pies in Fergbaker, with the bonus of a shorter queue. Seriously, add some mash and gravy to these little dreams and you will not regret it.
I spent 3 nights in Queenstown, which was more than enough time to explore at leisure. So if you’re planning on visiting Milford Sound for the day, or are more adventurous than me in booking an extreme sporting activity, you shouldn’t need much longer for your trip.