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Queenstown Travel Guide

Sports and the Outdoors

You’ll find many people raving about their bungy-jumping experience or their jet-boat tour from the day before. Any activity you choose around Queenstown will bring you deep into the scenery that you can only ogle from the Wharf.

Bungy Jumping

AJ Hackett Bungy. This is where bungy began in New Zealand, at the original jump site; Kawarau Bridge, 20 minutes from Queenstown on State Highway 6. Even if you don't plan on taking the leap it's worth heading there to watch from the viewing decks. There's a new zipride, too, that's way easier on the nerves but still gives something to write home about. Those who graduate from the 142-foot plunge might like to test themselves on the Nevis Bungy, suspended 440 feet above the Nevis River, or try out what they claim is the world's biggest swing. If you're short on time, there's always the Ledge by the Skyline Gondola where you can also jump or swing. Be sure to check age, height, and weight requirements. The Station, Camp and Shotover Sts., Queenstown, 9300. 0800/286–4958 NZ only; 03/450–1300. From NZ$60 for the Zipride; NZ$180 for the Kawarau or Ledge jump.

Shotover Canyon Swing. For those who think bungy jumping doesn't keep the adrenaline pumping long enough, the Shotover Canyon Swing gives a terrifying jump with an added scenic boost. Choose your jump style—go forwards, backwards, or tied to a chair—and leave the edge of a cliff 109 meters (358 feet) above the Shotover Canyon. Age, height, and weight requirements apply. 03/442–6990 bookings.


Several scenic walks branch out from town. For a history lesson with your ramble, head to the Time Walk, entering through an iron gateway on the Queenstown Hill trail. Narrative panels line the route; it takes about two hours, and you’ll feel good when you see the view at the top. The Ben Lomond Track takes you to one of the highest peaks in the basin. Take the gondola to the summit, then follow signs to the saddle and the steep climb to the peak (5,730 feet). You’ll need to be reasonably fit and this can be a full-day walk, so make sure you bring all the necessary supplies.

Queenstown Trail. For a wonderful journey around the Queenstown area, take a look at the trail map (see website) of this 100km walking and cycling trail and start planning. The trail is well built and there are plenty of places to hire all the biking equipment you need (also on its website). The trail takes you over to Arrowtown and the wineries of Gibbston, past two lakes and three rivers, over some interesting bridges and always through stunning scenery. You can do it all or just parts of it. The path's uphill from Queenstown so if you want to make it a little easier for yourself, start your trip in Arrowtown.

Horse Trekking

Moonlight Stables. Moonlight Stables has a choice of 1 1/2 hour to 4 hour rides with spectacular views of the mountains and rivers around the Wakatipu–Arrow Basin. Ride across its 800-acre deer farm. Novice and experienced riders are welcome. Ride in Australian stock saddles and western saddles; private rides by arrangement. Transportation from Queenstown is provided. 03/442–1229. From NZ$120.

Jet-Boat Rides

Dart River Safaris. With Dart River Safaris you can get a nonpareil look at rugged Mt. Aspiring National Park, one of the most spectacular parts of South Island. Their route includes jet-boating on the upper and lower Dart River, along with a bit of walking and a back road tour of the "Paradise" area. The Funyak option takes you upstream by jet-boat, then you paddle gently downstream, exploring the Rockburn Chasm on the way. Shuttle buses depart daily from Queenstown for the 45-minute ride to the boats. Rates insclude transfer. Corner of Camp and Shotover St., Queenstown, 9300. 0800/327–853 NZ only; 03/442–4933. From NZ$219.

KJet. With the sun sparkling off the lake, wind whistling past, and traveling way faster than you had imagined, this is good holiday fun. KJet takes you on Lake Wakatipu and down two rivers, the Kawarau and Shotover, with some 360 spins along the way. Boats leave from Marine Parade where there's also an interesting underwater observatory. Reservations recommended. Main Town Pier, Marine Parade, Queenstown. 03/442–6142. From NZ$119.

Shotover Jet. Shotover Jet leads high-speed, heart-stopping rides in the Shotover River canyons; it's got exclusive rights to operate in these waters. The boat pirouettes within inches of canyon walls. The boats are based at the Shotover Jet Beach beneath the historic Edith Cavell Bridge, a 10-minute drive from Queenstown. If you don't have transport, a free shuttle makes frequent daily runs. Reservations are essential. Gorge Rd., over the Edith Cavell Bridge at Arthur's Point, Queenstown, 9300. 03/442–8570; 0800/802 804 NZ only. From NZ$129.


Rafting is generally an adult thrill, with age restrictions for children. You'll need your swimsuit and a towel, but all other gear, including wet suit, life jacket, helmet, and wet-suit booties, are provided by the rafting companies. Instructors spend quite a bit of time on safety issues and paddling techniques before you launch.

Frogz White Water Sledging. Join the frogz and take a hydrospeed sledge down the Kawerau River. The half-day Roaring Meg trip lets you ride 5 km (3 mi) down the river, and once you've gotten the hang of things and learned to control your sledge, they let you maneuver it down again. Trips go from Queenstown or Wanaka or you can arrange to meet at the Power Station on State Highway 6. Roaring Meg Power Station, State Hwy. 6, Queenstown. 03/441–2318; 0800/4FROGZ NZ only. NZ$195.

Queenstown Rafting. Queenstown Rafting runs various half-, full-, and three-day white-water rafting trips in the Queenstown area year-round, with trips on the Shotover and Kawerau rivers. If you're not into the white-water you can do the Flow (suitable for kids from 4 years), which is a scenic trip in a raft or inflatable kayak. Or go all out with the Nevis Quad Challenge, which includes a jet-boat ride, a helicopter trip, rafting on the Shotover, and a bungy jump, all in one day. 35 Shotover St., Queenstown, 9300. 03/442–9792; 0800/723–8464 NZ only. From NZ$149; NZ$645 for the Nevis Quad Challenge.

Serious Fun River Surfing. This is serious!—for the adventurous and those with surfing or water experience. You'll get kitted out in a full wetsuit, helmet, life jacket, and fins. There's an introduction to river surfing on calm water first. Then grab your bodyboard and prepare to surf the waves of Queenstown's stunning Kawarau River. Where your guide ends up taking you will depend on the conditions but the Kawarau River has plenty of whitewater. They'll pick you up from town. 39 Camp St., Queenstown, 9300. 03/442–5262. From $NZ195.

Scenic Flights

Over the Top Helicopters. Over the Top Helicopters runs a diverse selection of flights in their executive style helicopters, including glacier and alpine ski slope landings, and scenic tours above Queenstown, the Remarkables, Fiordland, Milford and Doubtful sounds. They'll also deliver you to fly-fishing spots absolutely miles from anywhere, or take you heli-skiing or on eco-tours as far away as Stewart Island. Blue Hangar, Tex Smith Lane, Queenstown, 9349. 03/442–2233 or 0800/123–359. From $NZ265 per person.


Coronet Peak. Queenstown's original ski resort, 20 minutes from town, rocks day and night to a ski and snowboard crowd that returns year after year. Not only is it accessible, but it also has a veritable army of ski guns to keep the snow topped up. It has a skiable area of 700 acres, a vertical drop of 1,360 feet, a high-speed six seater, two express quads, and a T-bar, as well as a good learners area. The season usually runs June to October. Night skiing is available on Friday and Saturday night from early July to mid-September. Ski shuttles depart regularly from Queenstown Snow Centre. Coronet Peak Station Rd., Queenstown, 9371. 03/442–4620. Day pass NZ$98.

The Remarkables. Just across the valley, the Remarkables is a higher ski area that's a bit more of a drive but has something to suit all abilities from three terrain parks to wide sunny slopes to serious black runs. The vertical drop here is 1,160 feet and it has a new, fast-speed six-seater, and two quads. It's a great place to take kids with good vantage points to watch them on the learners slopes, and if skiing's not your thing you can take the family tubing—which is like sledging on a giant inner tube. It's a 45-minute drive from Queenstown and if you don't like heights or hairpin bends and unsealed roads you can catch the Ski Shuttle from the Queenstown Snow Centre in town. Queenstown. 03/442–4615. NZ$98.


NZONE Skydive. Here's a different way of taking in the view of Queenstown; from a tandem skydive. At 15,000 feet the earth is already taking on that round from-out-of-space look about it that says you're a long way up. You don't have to jump from that high: there are 12,000 and 9,000 feet options. Either way it's an unforgettable experience, helped by Jumpmasters who make you feel at ease (relatively speaking!). And it's good to know this company has been operating successfully for over 23 years. You have to be under 100 kg (220 lbs) to do a tandem skydive. Prices start at NZ$299. (Reservations & pick-up), 35 Shotover Street, Queenstown. 03/442 5867.


Ziptrek Ecotours. With Ziptrek you can zip every which way (upside down if you want) among the trees on the hill above Queenstown. It's a very scenic adventure and as each zip line stops at a tree platform, you learn about the ecology of the area. Most of all, it's good fun; but not for anyone who's scared of heights! Not suitable for children under 6. Gondola Hill, Queenstown, 9300. 03/441–2102; 0800/ZIPTREK NZ only. NZ$149.





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