A Weekend in New Zealand’s Adventure Capital, Queenstown

A Weekend in New Zealand’s Adventure Capital, Queenstown

November 30, 2016

If you’re one with an adventurous heart and loves the thrill and adrenaline rush, Queenstown is a destination not to be missed! Labeled by many as New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown boasts a wide myriad of activities to fill up your day. From high speed jet boat rides to soaring hundreds of feet above Lake Wakatipu on a parasail to scenic helicopter rides and many more, you’ll never find Queenstown a boring place.

Besides playing to your heart’s content, you should check out Queenstown’s gorgeous sceneries as well. I love the majestic mountains surrounding Queenstown, making many spots picture-perfect. I also enjoyed having picnics on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. On my previous trip to New Zealand, I spent a weekend in Queenstown and I’ll be sharing my itinerary with you now.


SATURDAY


9.00am on a Saturday morning – Jet Boating


queenstown-new-zealand-shotover-jet

queenstown-shotover-jet-experience

queenstown-shotover-jet-mountains

This is a must-do when you’re in Queenstown as Shotover Jet has become part of the fabric of what is quintessentially ‘New Zealand’. It was my first time on a jet boat so I was pretty excited about the experience. My friend and I booked the ultimate jet boat ride with Shotover Jet and wow, it was a unique breathtaking ride through the dramatic and narrow river canyons. I was grabbing so tightly to the handrails as the jet boat performed exhilarating full 360 degrees spins. Almost everyone on board were cheering excitedly when the jet boat sped past rocky outcrops, skimmed around boulders and zipped through the canyons. It was such an amazing experience and I’m definitely going for this again if I return in future!

Each adult is priced at $145 while each child is priced at $75 and a family package, consisting of 2 adults and 2 children, is priced at $365. These prices are valid until 30 September 2017.

Here’s some advice
Always ensure that you have your life-vest on and grab tightly to the handrails. For the girls with long hair, it’s better to tie up your hair as it’s bound to get messed up (just look at my photos) but you’re definitely going to have a great time! You need to dress warmly as the air in the canyons is always cold. Sunglasses are also recommended to keep the wind and water out of your eyes. Children between the ages of 5 years old to 15 years old have to reach a minimum height of 1 metre. If the water is high, the height requirement will be increased to 1.2 metres. Remember to check the schedule of the shotover jets as the timings change according to the seasons. Book earlier too, to avoid disappointments!

Details
Address: Shotover Jet Beach, Gorge Road, Arthurs Point, PO Box 189, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 442 8570 or 0800 746 868 (free phone within New Zealand only)
Website: http://www.shotoverjet.com/
Email: info@shotoverjet.com


10.30am on a Saturday morning – Scenic Helicopter Flight


queenstown-view-from-helicopter

queenstown-helicopter-view

queenstown-helicopter-snow-mountains

queenstown-helicopter-bobs-peak

There’s no better way to take in this picturesque town than from a high vantage point. We flew with The Helicopter Line and picked the Queenstown Panorama Package, which lasts for 20 minutes and costs $240 per adult and $168 per child.

I was in awe with the dove-white mountains soaring upwards as if determined to kiss the heavens. Just looking at them reminded me why the ancient Greeks thought of the Gods on Mount Olympus, ruling from their home in the clouds. Each of the mountains was white-peaked, but nothing like the neat line around a chocolate waffle cone. The snow reached down from the cap in craggy white fingers, no doubt up close there were mighty cracks in the rocks deep-packed with ice. It’s hard not to smile to yourself when you’re admiring such a magnificent view. I hope I’ll be fit enough and brave enough to hike up these mountains some day. I’m sure I’ll be looking down on the tall pines lining the mountains like they were matchsticks.

Details
Address: Lucas Place, Queenstown Airport, PO Box 1530, Queenstown, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 442 3034 or 0800 500 575 (free phone within New Zealand only)
Website: http://www.helicopter.co.nz/
Email: queenstown@helicopter.co.nz


1.00pm on a Saturday afternoon – Take the Gondola to Bob’s Peak and zoom down on the Luge


queenstown-skyline-gondola-new-zealand

queenstown-skyline-view

queenstown-bobs-peak-view-new-zealand

queenstown-skyline-luge

Whenever I visit a new country or city, I like ascending to the peaks just to soak in the panoramic views. Needless to say, I had to do the same in Queenstown! Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from central Queenstown, the Skyline Gondola brings visitors high above the town to the complex located on Bob’s Peak. You can find some of the region’s best views here as there are numerous observation decks where you will spot Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range and awe-inspiring views across Lake Wakatipu to Cecil and Walter Peaks.

After you’re done admiring the views, take the chairlift up even higher just to ride the Luge, a non-motorized cart, for an 800 metres blast of downhill fun! Once is never enough so greedy me, and my friend, decided to go up and zoom down a total of 5 times! There are two different tracks you can take, namely the Scenic Track and the Advanced Track. The former is more leisurely as you’ll descend gentle gradient, easy bends, tunnels and dips while the latter has a steeper gradient, thus more thrilling due to banked corners, tunnels, dippers and cuttings. I found it hard to keep my eyes on the Luge tracks as the views of lakes and mountains were too spectacular!

Below are the Prices for the Gondola and Luge Combos:
Gondola & 1 Luge ride – $45 per adult and $30 per child
Gondola & 2 Luge rides – $47 per adult and $35 per child
Gondola & 3 Luge rides – $50 per adult and $40 per child
Gondola & 5 Luge rides – $55 per adult and $45 per child
Gondola & 8 Luge rides (to share) – $129 per family
Gondola & 10 Luge rides (to share) – $135 per family
Gondola & 20 Luge rides (to share) – $175 per family

Details
Address: Brecon Street, PO Box 17, Queenstown, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 441 0101
Opening Hours: Skyline Gondola opens at 9am daily while Luge opens at 10am daily. Closing times vary depending on seasons. Due to long daylight hours in summer, the Luge stays open until 9pm over the peak Christmas and New Year time. During short daylight hours in winter, the Luge closes at 5pm.
Website: http://www.skylineluge.com/luge-new-zealand/skyline-luge-queenstown/
Email: queenstown@skyline.co.nz


4.00pm on a Saturday afternoon – Relax at Queenstown Gardens


queenstown-botanic-gardens

queenstown-gardens

queenstown-botanic-gardens-pond

I’m so glad that almost every significant attraction in Queenstown is of walking distance from central Queenstown, just like their Botanic Gardens, commonly known as Queenstown Gardens. Imagine if you were to work in the central, how fortunate it is to just walk a few minutes to the tranquil gardens for your lunch break or a short tea break and escape the hustle and bustle. There are pristine lawns, a large water feature, lush greenery consisting of a variety of trees and plants, and a rose garden. This is the most ideal place for picnics!

Details
Address: Park Street, Queenstown, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 24 hours. Sat & Sun 6am to 8pm.


6.00pm on a Saturday afternoon – Indulge in a Sinful Burger at Fergburger


queenstown-fergburger

queenstown-fergburger-morning-glory-burger

Open 21 hours a day, Fergburger serves up delicious burgers that are bigger than my face! There are combinations ranging from Little Lamby ($12.90), consisting of prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, aioli and tomato relish, to Mr. Big Stuff ($16.50), featuring 1/2lb of prime New Zealand beef topped with melted cheddar cheese, American streaky bacon and BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and aioli, to Bombay Chicken ($13.50), boasting grilled chicken tenderloins marinated in a chilli, ginger & coriander yoghurt with cucumber raita, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, aioli and mango chutney. Fergburger also offers vegetarian burger options and many more choices.

I remembered having The Morning Glory ($10), which was made up of my favourite ingredients and comfort food such as avocado, hash brown, American streaky bacon, egg, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, tomato relish & Ferg’s tarragon mayonnaise. Each bite was full of flavours, with so much juices, or rather, sauces, oozing out from every ‘corner’ of the burger. Well, I wasn’t thinking of dieting at that point of time! Do note that you might have to queue around an hour for the burgers if you’re there during peak hours.

Details
Address: 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 441 1232
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 5am daily, except on Christmas Day
Website: http://www.fergburger.com/
Email: admin@fergburger.com


SUNDAY


10.00am on a Sunday morning – Stroll along Lake Wakatipu


lake-wakatipu-queenstown

new-zealand-queenstown-lake-wakatipu

lake-wakatipu-new-zealand-queenstown

lake-wakatipu-queenstown-new-zealand

queenstown-lake-wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu was formed 15,000 years ago during the last ice age when a huge glacier moving from the North-West carved it out. This S-shaped lake might be narrow but the mountains run straight into the lake, forming deep canyons. It is 399 metres at its deepest point. This lake is bordered on all sides by tall mountains, the highest of which is Mount Earnslaw, at 2,819 metres. Settlements around Lake Wakatipu include Queenstown and the villages of Kingston, Glenorchy and Kinloch.

Due to its S-shape, the tide at Lake Wakatipu rises and falls about 10 centimetres every 25 minutes or so. However, Maori legend links this unusual phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake. It was believed that Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief’s daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The S-shape is said to resemble a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. So, Matau’s head rested at Glenorchy while his feet lies South in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau’s knee.

Wherever you walk along the lake, you’ll be surprised by different beautiful perspectives. I’m sure you can see many different angles of the lake from my photos. There was a huge tree that collapsed so I couldn’t resist fooling around and climbing those huge tree trunks! Picnics by the lakes are perfect too, and very romantic (if there’s champagne)!


1.00pm on a Sunday afternoon – Parasail on Lake Wakatipu


queenstown-parasailing

queenstown-paraflights

I have an extreme phobia of heights but if you don’t step out of your comfort zones, you’ll never get to experience good things in life! So, I decided to join my friend for Parasailing. We booked our parasailing session with Paraflights and they offer solo, tandem or threesome options. We boarded the parasailing boat at the main town pier and the staff fit lifejackets and hands-free harnesses on us. The boat captain also briefed us on how the flight works.

The parachutes were inflated above the vessel and we were attached to the chutes on the flight deck of the boat. The boat speed increased to about 25 kilometres per hour and slowly lifted us off the ground and away from the boat. Cowardly me kept my eyes closed for the first few minutes as we ascended into the air while my friend kept screaming at me to open my eyes as the scenery around was stunning. Gradually, I’m glad I mastered the courage as the view was so impressive.

As the breeze swept my hair away from my face, I noticed Lake Wakatipu wounding its merry way around the sky-piercing mountains. The lake is the liquid soul of the mountains, and this one was glowing. Chords of soft light speared down from above, bathing its surface in gold. It was glinting with little sparkles, like a thousand diamonds blessed with an inner fire. The mountains surrounding the shimmering Lake Wakatipu were vampire-white. A wave of white snow went rumbling down the sides. They were all crumpled at the base. The ‘legs’ of the mountains were very wide but the peaks were like harpoon tips, shrouded in ghost-grey mist. It made the air a little chilly but we still enjoyed being 600 feet above the ground. For me, this was an experience that shouldn’t be missed!

For Solo flights, each adult and each child is priced at $159. For Tandem flights, each adult is priced at $129 while each child is priced at $99. For Triplets flight, each adult is priced at $99 while each child is priced at $79.

Here’s some advice
The entire boating adventure lasts for approximately an hour, with each person flying for about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t worry as you won’t get wet! The minimum age is two years old but subjects to staff approval as they have to ensure that their small harnesses will fit correctly for smaller children. The minimum weight is about 35 kilograms for solo flights and the maximum weight is about 200 kilograms. Weight limitations also depend on the wind conditions at the time of your flight.

Details
Address: PO Box 422, Queenstown, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 441 2242 or 0800 225 520 (free phone within New Zealand only)
Website: http://www.paraflights.co.nz/
Email: info@paraflights.co.nz


3.00pm on a Sunday afternoon – Ice Skating


queenstown-ice-arena

queenstown-ice-arena-skating

Located in Queenstown Gardens is The Queenstown Ice Arena. It is closed during summer months as the staffs prepare the arena for indoor soccer and inline hockey. This is a perfect wet-weather activity and also great for family outings. I like that the ceiling changes colours every minute or so due to their state-of-the-art LED lighting system. There isn’t any time restriction as well, which makes ice skating here a value-for-money activity. For $19 per adult, $15 per student or child, $7.50 per preschool under 5 years old and $60 per family of four (inclusive of skate hire), you get to skate for as long as you desire!

Details
Address: 29 Park Street, Queenstown Gardens, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Telephone Number: +64 3 441 8000
Opening Hours: (Public Skating Hours) Sun-Thu 10am to 5pm. Fri 10am to 9.30pm. Sat 10am to 6pm.
Website: http://www.queenstownicearena.co.nz/
Email: info@queenstownicearena.co.nz

That’s all I did within a weekend in Queenstown and it was a very memorable trip for me! If you want to read more on New Zealand, I’ve previously written an article on Whale Watching in Kaikoura. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles coming up in the near future.

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Hi! I’m Alexis!

I’m a true-blue Singaporean who loves travel, photography, and food. I left my career in accountancy in 2014 to become a globetrotter. Since then, I’ve travelled to over 20 countries and have checked many adventures off my bucket list. I hope my readers will benefit from my first hand perspective of the trips.

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