In our original itinerary, myself and Ms Larsbaby hadn't planned to visit Queenstown, New Zealand's self proclaimed "Global Adventure Capital", located on the South Island and surrounded by mountains. But an émigré friend of mine insisted that we go there on a 2 day trip on my birthday with him joining us for the best nightlife he's seen in the country. This didn't seem unreasonable, so we let him book the short 40 minute flight from Christchurch. I just hoped it would live up to the hype.
DAY 1 : HERE COMES THE SUN
Arriving in the small Queenstown airport, the compact town centre can be easily reached with a shuttle bus in 20 minutes or so. As you reach the centre you are treated to the amazing sight of huge mountains in the background, and there is something a bit surreal about this improbably photogenic picture postcard view; almost worth the trip alone.
We arrived on a sunny Monday in the November early springtime, and enjoyed some sunshine in a park as well as a nice brunch after we'd settled into our accommodation, the impressive and recommended Highview Apartments which had its own view of the aforementioned mountains. The sunset we saw from there was very beautiful.
One thing worth noting is the many different offices that tout themselves as Tourist Information. Many seem little more than fronts for excursion companies; the one you should aim for is the official i-SITE on the corner of Shotover and Camp Streets.
Patagonia (50 Beach Road) provided a satisfying sunny view and lattes along with a well presented cheesecake and an array of chocolaty choices. The main shopping throughfare The Mall and surrounding streets provided a lot of opportunities for retail therapy and souvenir shopping and it certainly kept us amused for a while. That evening the bars seemed a bit quiet to reflect this off season of no snow for winter activities, not enough sun for true summer ones. The restaurants however were another matter, which seemed varied and offered cuisine such as Mexican, Thai, European and Japanese. We managed to bag an unbooked seat at the excellent @Thai restaurant (8 Church Street), whose Thai food proved flavoursome if a little mild.
DAY 2 : HERE COMES THE RAIN
So far so good then. Unfortunately, my friend had been unable to make the trip due to his little one getting ill, so it was just the two of us. And on the next day, my birthday, the wheels fell off spectacularly. Firstly, it hammered down with rain most of the day, and we had planned to get a flight to Milford Sound for apparently spectacular views. One thing to note is that such flights are utterly dependent on the weather, which can often be bad, so be prepared for any such plan to be dashed at short notice and consider the 12 hour bus trip as it is apparently worth it, though it didn't appeal for my birthday. We did manage to get an excellent burger brunch at Halo (Camp Street) but there is only so long you can linger with a latte, and it soon became clear that unless you're prepared to spend all day in a café or bar, there isn't a lot to do in Queenstown when it's too rainy to venture out.
Unfortunately my friend had neglected to tell me this in his sales pitch and thus we were left caught unawares; I hope this review helps you in this respect should you ever find yourself there. The free underwater observatory, which is quite easily missed at its on the Queenstown Bay Jetty, down some stairs, and which we visited at least 3 times, offers some respite from the rain. You can watch the eels and fish swim past as well as the native diving ducks come down for food. You can even feed them by putting money into a slot which activates a feeding mechanism, something which several people did and we all had the benefit of. We then moved on to Williams Cottage (Earl Street) which is the oldest home in town, built in 1864. As well as a small café and shop it houses on its walls he fascinating history of the building. Let's be honest though it isn't exactly the Victoria & Albert museum and wastes a maximum of half an hour, so we decided to decamp back to base to laze around until the rain stopped, which it did, briefly, in the evening, enough time to grab a fish and chip supper at Aggys Shack, a small hut near to the park with a couple of tables outside selling lots of fine looking seafood such as steamed green lipped mussels, squid rings, smoked eel and catch of the day. The fish and chips portion I had was huge. Unfortunately, Mr Larsbaby fell ill at this point and hardly even started her chips. So by the time we moved on to have a drink at Dux de Lux (14 Church Street) with its excellent microbrewery ales, it was pretty much over and my birthday was completed by watching Enemy Of The State back at the apartment while Ms Larsbaby slept her illness off. It's fair to say I didn't have this in mind when planning the trip, and the fact that there seemed to be an ad break every 5 minutes or so on TV NZ didn't help my mood; I think the film lasted about 4 hours.
Our trip ended the next day. We didn't linger in the town in the rain and got a relatively early bus to the airport, after having an admittedly very nice brunch. I couldn't wait to get on the plane and as far as I could get from the town.
Any dissatisfaction with Queenstown is hugely coloured by my birthday, but here goes. I found it to be the most over-rated holiday place I have ever been to. I've been to worse places but none so ridiculously hyped by guidebook and misguided friend alike. If I was in my mid 20s and liked extreme sports and drinking I would have been in my element but, picture postcard view aside, it was a car crash of a place as the rain hammered down unremittingly. The rain is a bigger factor that any of the information I have read about the place ever acknowledges.
Activities such as bungy jumping, jetboating, white water rafting, river surfing, canyoning, flying (including our abortive trip to Milford Sound), gliding, skydiving, mountain biking, horse trekking and winter skiing are readily available. There's even a luge going down from the gondola. Hiking is available in the surrounding mountainous areas.
As far as excursions go, these are dependant on time and transport. You can visit Arrowtown, which you can reach by bus, and visit the Chinese settlement that arose due to the gold rush in Arrow River in the 1860s, where they were subjected to quite significant racism. Wanaka, 100km to the north east, is also apparently a nice place to visit, with the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum charting the history of New Zealand combat pilots, along with planes such as Hurricanes and Soviet fighters. This is best done by car (and we can't drive).
But I guess there were other things I could have done. The Gondola up a scarily steep cliff face didn't enthuse at all as I can't stand heights so we avoided it, but apparently there are great view of the town, lake and mountains, as well as a café, restaurant and Maori cultural shows. Myself and Ms Larsbaby aren't at all interested in bungee jumping, white water rafting or the like and so Queenstown was from the start not really our kind of destination. The TSS Earnslaw trip, a tour around the surrounding waters in an old steam ship, seemed too contrived. So that was that then. The highlight for me, by a mile, was the underwater observatory, which pretty much tells you al you need to know.
With a decent bit of sun and a good group of people I can imagine you'll have a great time here. When one companion (whose idea it was and who was supposed to provide the local knowledge) is a no show and the other is ill, and even the ducks can't take any more rain, you can have a better time in Milton Keynes in November.
The Lonely Planet states that "No one's ever visited Queenstown and said 'I'm bored' ".Well I'm saying it, I was utterly, incontrovertibly bored; I've been less bored waiting for coats of paint to dry whilst painting my kitchen. Don't believe the hype. I am in no hurry to go back.
If you still want to visit, here are some useful links:
At the beginning of a five month long travelling trip, I spent the first 3 weeks in NewZealand which was amazing; the best week was spent in Queenstown. Although NZ has a lot of fantastic mountain scenery, none of them seem as beautiful as the ones surrounding Queenstown.
We got a flight from the North island as we were running out of time, we got a very good deal, paid about 100 dollars (40 pound). But there is a ferry connecting Wellington to Christchurch. If you do fly into Queenstown try and get a window seat as the scenery is amazing as you fly over the mountains and land in Queenstown.
Shuttle buses are the cheapest way to get from the airport to Queenstown. As we were driving into Queenstown the sun was setting and, although it sounds very corny, it honestly did take my breath away.
We stayed at hostel called 'The Black Sheep', this is a little out of the centre, but not a bad walk up a hill to it. It cost around 20 dollars (8pound) a night for a bed in a 6 bed dorm. We really loved our stay here, but as with everything, it was probably the people we met there rather than the hostel that made it a fantastic week.
Backpackers flock to Queenstown to do all the extreme activities it has to offer: bungy jump, helicopter ride over the remarkables, sky dive, lugeing, rafting, speed boat etc. Most agencies are around the same price for these activities, although you can buy packages of either 4 or 5 of the activities which does make it cheaper.
If you are not in Queenstown for the adventure you may be there for the famous 'fergburger', a small burger shop in the centre which sells massive burgers which many travellers live on for the time they are there.
Another brilliant reason to visit Queenstown is for the night life, there are loads of good bars, take some time to work out where the drink offers are, otherwise you may find yourself more than you would like. The black sheep hostel did a pub crawl a few nights a week (I think other hostels also offer this), which was a brilliant way of finding out where the crowd is and what time.
For spectacular scenery and adventure try New Zealand's favourite resort...
New Zealand may be on the other side of the world but it rewards any travellers who make the long trip with a unique kiwi experience. The country is regularly voted as a favourite holiday destination and with so much to see and do, where do you start? One of the gems found in the South Island is the lovely resort of Queenstown.
Mention the name Queenstown to any New Zealander or Australian and watch their eyes light up. With a perfect location nestling on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and at the foot of the impressive Remarkables Mountain Range, this all year round resort really does have something for everyone.
Originally a gold rush town it is deceptively peaceful and picturesque, but what lies beneath is the world capital of adventure sports. Queenstown offers all the adventure sports you can stomach with a few new and unusual ones chucked in, whether it is high adrenalin thrill seeking jetboating or bungy jumping they have it all.
Queenstown isn't just about adventure sports there are plenty of other activities on offer throughout the year including golf, walking/hiking, horse riding, kayaking, mountain biking, sight seeing or wine tasting at various vineyards on the local wine trail. During the New Zealand winter some of the countries best skiing is available at two major ski fields nearby the resort.
The area played host to Lord of the Rings filming and has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. A more relaxing trip involves a cruise on the vintage Steamship TSS Earnslaw from Queenstown to Walter Peak Station homestead. Once there you can either return immediately to the town or take advantage of some of the trips on offer including horse riding or a tour round a working farm, all finished off with tea and homemade cakes in the farmhouse - a perfect end to a trip before a return sail to Queenstown.
Queenstown's compact town centre is concentrated over a few main streets with a good variety of shops, restaurants and bars, this is a cosmopolitan and buzzing resort with a relaxing atmosphere. It is however worth seeking out the hard to find Cow Lane - it looks almost like a back alley but worth the discovery with The Cow at the end. The Cow is a small restaurant in a cosy stone house and offers some of the best pizzas available - try the house special, the Bolognese pizza, which is especially good.
Take the Skyline gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak and enjoy the views of the town and lake or watch in amazement at the bungy jumpers diving into the forest surrounding the peak.
The town is also an ideal base as a gateway to Milford Sound and Fiordland, New Zealand's largest national park. The trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound is quite literally inspiring with some of the most outstanding views of glacial landscape. Cruising Milford Sound is the most popular and easily accessible way to take in the views of Mitre Peak and the grandeur of the majestic mountains and waterfalls and if you are lucky some dolphins.
Queenstown is a stunning resort that is an ideal base to explore the south of New Zealand's Southern Island and there can be no better introduction to this stunning country.
I visited Queenstown whilst backpacking in NZ and was constantly told it was the adventure capital! This was true as Queenstown offers a huge variety of crazy things to do though a little more pricey than in other NZ cities.
**Skyline and luge**
The skyline up to the top of the 'hill' presented wonderful views over Queenstown, of the surrounding mountains/hills and of the sky blue lake. The ride was quick and smooth and reasonably priced (about $30 for ride and 3 sets of luge rides) At the top is a good size restaurant offering food, drinks and snacks all reasonable price too! Oo not forgetting the yummy ice-cream! The views are amazing up here especially on a clear day!
The luge (like go-karting but safer) was great fun too! It could go as fast as you felt comfortable with, I found toddlers over taking me! It wasn't busy so we had fun racing with my friends! While I was there they were rebuilding some of the track, which should be finished now, offering more routes to drive down! This is a great fun activity and well worth a try regardless of age!
There are lots here for you guys! Including bungee jumping, white water rafting, gondolas, river rafting, skydiving, jet boating and canyon swinging and much more. These are all crazy activities, which will cost you a little more than doing them in other cities around NZ such as in Rotorua or Tapou, though it depends on how much time you have to spend.
Personal I did a lot of these activities elsewhere so didn't do any whilst in Queenstown! Sorry, I've heard from other backpackers these are all great fun though!
Both visits I stayed in a YHA youth hostel on the river front, with amazing views and great scenic trails/paths near by! This could $27 nz per night and the rooms were very clean as well shared showers/toilets on each corridor. There is also a big common room with a big DVD collection, the hostel is safe and locks up around 10, needing a unique code to open doors after this time.
The town is very touristy, offering a variety of lodging from 5* to tents!
**Eating and Drinking**
There was a selection of places to eat and drink around the town. There is also a handful of take-aways, some open late into the night for us drinking night-owls! We mainly bought from the super market but the nights we did eat out, all the food was tasty! The cafes right on the river front are a little more expensive but a great location to eat and watch the world passing by! A huge range of drinking places too, we drank in backpacker's pubs as was cheaper and full of likeminded people! Definitely try the 'teapot cocktails!'
Winter-festival hosts a range of activites from music, sport and comedy, a great 10 day event! (DEC)
Festival Street parade - great family event and parade (JUNE)
Festival Mardi Gras - lively event which is free and a huge range of foods (JUNE)
Rail - Jam - event where free style skaters and riders show off their skills! (JULY)
There is usual some sort of event or another going on, so best to check it out before hand, most hotels can advise on these!
Queenstown is a beautiful location with so much to do! It has a fantastic lake and mountains as well as a botanic garden and lots of walks to enjoy the scenery!
The town is quite tourist driven so there is lots of activities to do which can be book so easily! A wonderful place to visit whilst in NZ.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand.
If youre looking for watersports, thrills, beautiful scenery, friendly locals, great nightlife and wonderful food then Queenstown has it all.
Queenstown was a goldmining town that has developed into a beautiful resort with a downtown area that hugs that lakeshore. Its setting is gorgeous.
In the Queenstown area you can do white water rafting on the shotover river, jetboating, heli rafting , heli skiing, skydiving, canyon swinging, parapenting and of course bungey jumping if youre brave enough!
If you prefer more leisurely passtimes then you can go sailing, hiking, climbing, walking fishing, cycling, golfing or mountain biking
Further afield you can go hiking or skiing on snow or on glaciers, sail through fjords and fly over majestic peaks.
If its nightlife you would like then Queenstown is just for you, there is a great mix of clubs, wine bars, restaurants offering all types of cuisine, it has live jazz and top dj's. You can have as much nightlife as you want or a cosy evening if you'd prefer, there is something for everyone.
There are cruises on the lake on the TSS Earnslaw and you can dine at the Homestead at Walter Peak. You can go on the Skyline Gondola and have views across the whole area and even do a spot of lugeing!
Shopping is also great here even boasting duty free shopping stores which have some fabulous bargains. Sporting goods can be bought and the choice and quality is of course excellent.
Queenstown has a massive selection of places to stay from simple hostels through to luxurious 5 star hotels. There are even places to stay with local residents, you will easily find something to your taste and budget in Queenstown.
Queenstown is easily accesible by road or the international airport is served by major airlines offering a multitude of flight options. The town is approxiamately 10 kilometres from the airport and taxis are reasonable.
This is a great place to visit as it caters for everyone from those who like scenic coach tours to the person who wants a thrill at every turn.
THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM
Mountain tops pierce a clear, blue sky while the sun shines on crystal, clear, blue waters.
Well, not every single day but many of the 365 sunrises over Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu are a poets dream.
A jewel in New Zealand' crown, on the 45th parallel, Queenstown is a mecca for tourists who come for all-seasons activities and I don't expect there's many who leave disappointed.
This is a town which exists, not only because of the visitor numbers, but for honestly some of the best scenery you could expect to see anywhere in the world.
It's remarkable. Actually, The Remarkables are the huge, craggy mountain range that dominate the lake scene from anywhere you are in Queenstown.
Millionaires own homes there, overseas business entrepreneurs and ordinary 'kiwis' call Queenstown their home, which of course makes it a bit pricey to buy real estate and shopping prices soar seasonally.
While the outdoor adventure, tours and dining may seem to some travellers a bit expensive you can do things that don't cost a penny. Like, walking in the beautiful park which takes up all the peninsula beside Lake Wakatipu with views back to the township and out over lake and mountain range. Or just wndering through the tiny, compact town, having a look at the trout which swim around the pier or meandering up into the hills to watch a day in the life of Queenstown.
There is a bit of a goldmining theme going on in Queenstown, so there are attractions which take you back in time when Chinese and other hopeful's scoured the rugged hills and torrential rivers for that precious, dangerous to retreive ore.
Actually, Queenstown exists due to these hardy goldminers. It's history goes back to times when the Maori also searched - for Pouanamu (greenstone, or jade) and the Moa bird. Along came the goldminers, who needed a place to settle, so they did so, around 1860 it became a goldminers camp.
It is much more than that today. It is a vibrant, day or night, town which really does move. Bus tours by the dozens bring international travellers to plush hotels, motels, while the motoring public usually accommodate themselves in the many B and Bs, motels and the motorcamp, high on the hill with the most amazing views.
You may even see The Lady of the Lake, TSS Earnslaw. One of the last remaining coal-fired passenger carrying vessels in the Southern Hemisphere. Since she first arrived in Queenstown, in 1912, she's been serving the local community. Nowadays, she plies Lake Earnslaw most days on a nostalgic, scenic journey over to Walter Peak High Country farm.
I've done this trip and the day we went there was a honky-tonk band on board and it was really swinging. Fine wine and lovely food, relaxation and scenery to boot! Enthusiasts can even go down into the boiler room to get a taste of steam ship life.
If you want to go to Cecil Peak Station there are daily launches taking you to a day out you are sure to remember, for a high country farming experience.
Dubbed the 'adventure capital of the world', Queenstown and its environs has it all: heliskiing, snowboarding, snow mobiles and of course skiing at its two nearby ski areas (Coronet Peak and The Remarkable Ski Area) for winter time visitors.
A special event which is definitely worthwhile planning your trip around is the Queenstown Winter Festival, it is action, action, action, on and off the slopes, day and night. This is a 'remember for a life-time' event, for sure.
Try an adrenalin rush down the Shotover River on a jetboat, a raft or perhaps go for a more sedate fishing trip.
Summer time you might like to get a bit of the parapente action, bungy jumping (I think this is the first sight AJ Hackett set up and he's since gone on to open them all over the world), aerobatic flying, 4WD bone-crackers and if you're really out for a challenge, try a tandem skydive.
For other recreation there is a challenging golf course around at Frankton Arm, walking in native bush, horse riding, shopping, picnicing, visiting art galleries or going on a arts trail, visit a local vineyard, chilling out at a local cafe and generally just enjoying one of the most pristine tourist destinations New Zealand has to offer.
When you come in from an action-packed day there are dozens of things to do at night: restaurants offering several international foods, cafe, bars, nightclubs in differing price ranges and a casino. It pays to book your restaurant to avoid disappointment.
How romantic it is to take the gondola ride up to Bob's Peak, high above this beautiful town, sit in the Skyline Restaurant, by the window and enjoy the best in local and New Zealand wines with food to die for.
During the day Bob's Peak offers another exciting ride... the Luge. You take a lift up, two people sitting on nothing more than a bit of board, hanging on a cable! Then you sit on this tiny little ''go-kart-like'' thingey and hurtle down the hill on a narrow, concrete chute. I didn't do it - of course, I'm much to demure!
We were so high up, there were parapenting people defying aerodynamics, hanging around underneath us!
When you book your gondola ride, ask for the Luge deal - you get the ride up to Bob's Peak and then 5 runs on the Luge - or pick another package to suit your enthusiasm for this scary, speed-freaks trip down the mountainside.
Queenstown is a place where the world meets; you will be strolling along with visitors from many parts of the globe and it's odds on that they will be chatting away about the scenery, the action and the camera's are sure to be clicking away madly.
Queenstown has an international airport, if you are flying in from Australia, there are excellent links to other New Zealand airports. You can travel to and from Queenstown by bus or visit on a tour of the South Island.
Hire a car and really get out and about, you won't be sorry. You can take day trips to so many other fantastic South Island destinations from Queenstown.
Some say it is too commercialised, others rave about the scenery, I truly love visiting Queenstown and each time I go I marvel at the growth: new developments, new subdivisions, new attractions. I know families will appreciate the way this town has evolved to suit visitors and locals alike.
It's good for the soul to visit, any time of year, each four seasons bring a different focus on what and how you experience this part of New Zealand.
I recognise its importance to New Zealand's tourist economy and feel confident each and every visitor is getting value for money in what they see, experience, and remember about their visit to beautiful Queenstown
I could write so much more here but go to www.queenstown-nz.co.nz/information/AboutQueenstown/ if there's something I haven't covered.
There are alternatives of course, you could venture to nearby sleepy Wanaka where the opportunities to get your blood pumping are near endless. There's also the near coma inducing charm of Lake Te Anau with its myriad of activities. Most people, however, plump for New Zealand's South Island adventure capital, Queenstown. For a hamlet with an year round population of just 7,500 people this town has a huge geographical spread. Perhaps the fact that there are 15,000 tourist beds in the vicinity explains the urban sprawl. Nearby towns of Arrowtown and Frankton have now been usurped by the onward march. When we arrived there were huge road works to widen the main artery into townso you can see that full on resort status is not too far away. Queenstown started out as a mining town over 150 years ago but as the gold finds dwindled so did the population. Today it has discovered that the tourist dollar can be just as profitable and on that basis it goes from strength to strength. Apart from being the home of the bungy jump Queenstown is perfectly situated within reach of two of the southern hemispheres premier ski fields. The Remarkables ski area is world renowned and the Coronet Peaks have a fantastic reputation, not least for their nightly skiing! Milford Sound and New Zealand's fiordland is a mere bus ride away so there are plenty of day trips vying for your attention. Queenstown's town centre is tiny, making it easy to get around on foot. There are only 4 main streets so getting lost is not really something you should worry about. The shores of Lake Wakatipu and the snow capped splendour of the Remarkables mountain range provide the stunning backdrop. Lake Wakatipu is a natural wonder in its own right. Every five minutes its depth varies by up to 12cm and nobody can explain why. There are several probable causes including the belief that as yet uncovered underground feeds affect the l
akes size. During the Summer season (October to March) and Ski Season (November to April), in other words all year round, you will need to book accommodation in advance. Many of the town centre hotels and hostels fill up by mid morning so arriving homeless may mean looking beyond the obvious. Sometimes going beyond the obvious throws up better alternatives, however, so don't panic. ACCOMMODATION With so many beds available it's hard to believe that there could ever be a shortage of accommodation in town but it occurs almost daily. Queenstown is on nearly every travellers itinerary so be prepared to look around. We booked ahead with a hostel called Bumbles who were situated on the edge of town on Beach Street. At $40 it seemed quite cheap on paper. Arriving at dusk it was obvious we had been given the runt room. A bunk bed crammed into a matchbox in the television room was our fate. No sleep was the inevitable outcome, but being within excellent earshot of some fab soap operas meant we could catch up while resting at the same time. Our experience with Bumbles led us on a hillside walk to the Lakeside Holiday Park just off Isle Street. This place really clears away any ill feeling you might have about staying in a holiday park. It has really nice cabins starting at $60 that sleeps up to 4. For a few bucks more ($76) you can get an apartment which really shows up many backpacker hostels for what they are. There were 3 of us travelling together so the nightly rate proved very economical. Every apartment has ensuite facilities, a TV, delph, kettle, 2 in-house movies a night and a storage heater. There are several laundries spread throughout the park and 2 spacious and fully equipped kitchens to cook in. The camp office is open until late and has a good booking service and internet kiosk. Within the grounds there is Mini
-Golf and a rickety old trampoline (for the brave...or the drunk!). Black Sheep Backpackers, the self confessed (and drolly) 'outstanding in its field' is nearly always packed but gets rave reviews from travellers and guidebooks alike. Booking ahead is pretty much essential. Southern Laughter just beyond the town centre on Sydney Street is a great little hostel. Based on a log cabin it is warm and has very friendly staff and competitive prices. The best thing about them is that they afford a 10% discount on the Shotover jet and you don't even have to be staying there. ATTRACTIONS You could say it all started in 1988 when A J Hackett jumped off a bridge near Queenstown with only a strengthened rubber tied to his feet between him and a nasty end. Bungy jumping is now a world-wide phenomenon and its hometown is positively overflowing with opportunities to hurl yourself towards the ground. While we denied ourselves the treat, you've got admire anyone who is willing to suffer burst eye blood vessels for a momentary adrenaline rush. Queenstown is close to several rivers but it the Shotover river that gets the most attention. This is where the Shotover Jet plies its trade all through the year. The Shotover Jet is an aluminium speedboat with some tricky mechanics that allow it to turn 360 degrees at great speed. Add this thrill with the sight of a driver aiming for every large boulder within range and you get 30 minutes of heart pounding action. When we did it the temperature was artic so our senses were somewhat dulled. The price is a little steep too for the length of time you get on the river. The normal retail price is $80 but the Southern Laughter hostel and a few agents in town give a discount to bring it down to $71. With so many peaks in the background it was inevitable that they would be put to good use. T
he Remarka bles and the Coronet Peak are popular skiing resorts but you really need to set aside about $100 a day if you are arriving without gear. Sometimes it feels like everybody is carrying a snowboard in town so it may be difficult to resist the urge to make at least one stop at the slopes. Through a combination of will power, poverty and frostbite we managed to stay away from the ski fields so we had to come up with alternatives. Ice-skating was as close as we got to hurtling along on slippery surfaces. I'm not usually a big fan but the rink in the Queenstown Gardens is huge so there's no need to worry about crushing anybody when you lose your balance. During the summer the rink doubles as an indoor karting track. Sessions on the ice cost $15 (concessions for 10% are available at Bumbles hostel) for as long as you want. Ice boots cost a mere $3 although getting a snug fit is not always possible. Within the same gardens you'll notice the totally naff yet unfathomable popular frisbee golf. The aim of the game is to glide your saucer towards the 18 sticks positioned throughout the gardens in the least number of throws. Avoiding greenery, woodland creatures and humans is a continual hazard but when your having this much fun it's worth the risk. As with most of the South Island of New Zealand tramping is huge in Queenstown. The most impressive walk extends to the summit of the Ben Lomond peak. The track is accessed from the top of the gondola near the starting point for the luge. Reaching the summit can take up to 5 hours but with near treacherous conditions in winter (due to snow and ice) you have to allow more time. A much more manageable climb (but still backbreaking at times) goes to the Ben Lomond Saddle. The views along the way are breathtaking even if you feel like death is a only a badly judged step away. The track has plenty of lookouts on
the town and ge tting up really close to snow covered peaks is a life affirming feeling. As you get higher the snow gets more prominent and conditions can get very slippy. We crawled through on our runners but well gripped boots would have certainly hastened our journey. The Skyline Complex towers over Queenstown. Access is by an unforgiving walk or by one of the towns premier attractions the Skyline Gondola. The Gondola ride offers unparalleled views of the town although the $14 return fare is a little steep (excuse!). A combo deal with the skyline luge costing $25 makes much more sense. For this you get 5 luge rides down a scenic or advanced track as well as the gondola trip. A luge is a take on a go-kart and is propelled by the gradient of the track alone. The scenic track is a good introduction but its the advanced track that will appeal to those over 14. Crash helmets are provided but accidents are inevitable (just see all those people limping back on the gondola). The converted ski lifts that are used to ferry luge riders back to the start of the track are a thrill in their own right. Parasailing is very popular in Queenstown for 2 reasons. The air currents are near perfect and the views from the air are stunning. Prices start about $130 and there are several touts plying their trade near the Skyline buildings who can be very persuading. The buildings themselves house a restaurant, souvenir shop and some excellent viewing decks. ENTERTAINMENT The World is the grand old dame of Queenstown nightlife. It is huge and even has internet facilities. There are several Irish pubs in town but the pick of the bunch is Pogue Mahones on Beach Street. Don't be fooled by the paddywhackery of the name this place has the smell, furnishings and atmosphere that mimics the real thing perfectly. Pity then that the prices are typical
ly high which means that getting drunk there requires a thick wedge of cash. The Red Rock Bar on Camp Street is perfect for apres ski drinks. It is built like a log cabin and the open fire and intimate lighting just add to the ambience. There is a pool table out back but this place is perfect for cosy conversations while the wind rustles through the trees outside. Budget Communications is about the cheapest internet facility in town. Try to go between 9 and 11 in the morning or the evening and you'll get an hour on the web for $3 (even less with 10% concessions available from some of the towns hostels). Budget Communications have head sets and a quick connection and are situated on the 3rd level of the O'Connell Mall. EATING I normally call this section 'Eating Out' but because Queenstown can be a little pricey when it comes to dining what follows is a few ways to fill your belly without breaking the bank. Apart from a few calls to the O'Connell mall food court (which has a limited run on Asian and fast food) we generally cooked for ourselves. The Alpine Supermarket has a great location near the town centre but its bloated prices meant that we used it as a last resort only. The huge Fresh Choise supermarket on the rather crudely named Gouge Street (no they didn't sell eyes there, of the sheepish or otherwise) was excellent for all our needs. There are plenty of restaurants in town such as Roaring Megs (named after an infamous bar maid from the goldrush era), Little India (Shotover Street) and the Skyline restaurant at the top of the gondola. The latter has great evening deals where for around $35 dollars you can indulge on an 'all you can eat buffet' and receive a return trip on the gondola. MISCELLANEOUS Unlike its nearby neighbo
ur the New Zealand native s the Maori have integrated quite well with the rest of the population (this despite the fact that when the white man arrived he made a nice garnish!) Many of the original Maori names remain which means that you find yourself travelling to places you can neither spell let alone pronounce. Booking a bus company to see the country is a big issue. There are quite a few alternatives that appeal to various sections of the backpacking community. You have the Kiwi Experience (avoid if over 20) with its youthful attitude and liberal morals. There is the Magic Bus that is aimed at a slightly older traveller (but not much). Stray have the get away from the crowd brochures and tend to go beyond the main stopoffs. We plumped for the government run Intercity bus company for several reasons. First of all they have the most daily services, they have a pass called the Pathfinder that is as cheap as you'll get ($408, only 200 euro) and lastly and most importantly there is no pressure to stick to affiliated hostels that the private bus companies push. In the end we were delighted with our decision because Intercity tend to be fantastic for being on time, are comfortable and the driver commentary is superbly detailed and often hilarious. Intercity Bus have a depot at the Station under the clock tower on Camp Street. With its abundance activities and places to visit New Zealand can be a little overwhelming for making choises on what to do. Fortunately Lonely Planets 'New Zealand' is one of their better efforts and excels in offering advise on accommodation and historical notes. There are other good sources however such as the backpacker centric 'TNT' which has good synopsis's on all the main tourist trails. Queenstown is close to being the adventure travellers perfect destination, there is just so much to do. Most of the time
filling your days with activit ies can end up costing an arm and a leg (depending on what gets your blood adrenalising, and quite literally sometimes). Add to this the fact that the natural environment that envelops the town is the most stunning that you will ever see and you have a destination that begs to be visited.
Queenstown is a 'small' village that boasts many famous activities like Bungee Jumping, the Shotover River, White water rafting, Paragliding, and all kinds of wondrous adventures for the budding traveller or adrenalin junkie. Queenstown is actually one of the main touristy spots of New Zealand, the area itself is expensive to shop in.. (because of the touristy thing).. but if you just love the thought of your stomach being in your mouth.. then this is the place for you! Queenstown also has the spectacular 'Remarkables', (the mountains in which you ski on), when they are capped with snow it's an awesome sight sitting up in the skyline restaurant. I decided to ride in the tiger moth type plane and do loop the loop in the sky. I was thinking that this would cure my fear of heights.. but my knuckles have never been so white! PS: You can also glimpse the famous Kiwi at the Kiwi House. This is a dark place where you have to be really quiet and no photographs are allowed unfortunately, but there's nothing like seeing a real walking Kiwi! PPS: And what's really funny about being a local around the Queenstown area is watching the Asian tourists pulling over by the side of the road to take photo's of sheep! Hysterical! No offense Asian people.. you just can't help it if you live there!