“ Sightseeing Type: Parks / Gardens / Address: Brecon Street / Boydtown / Otago 9300 / New Zealand „
Queenstown is known as the extreme sports capital of New Zealand and so it was with some trepidation that we visited this area, concerned with what regretable activities we would be encouraged to partake in. One of the first attractions we visited however, was the Skyline Gondola which offers a variety of activities whether you enjoy all things "extreme" or not.
Before I fully review this place I must warn you that parking here is an absolute nightmare! Owing to its mountainous terrain, many of the streets in Queenstown, particularly when you approach the base of the mountain, are extremely steep, so beware if you;re driving a campervan or smaller engine car. As its such a busy town, the car parks quickly fill up. So if you don't want to have a 15-20 minute uphill walk from the next nearest parking space, make sure you arrive here early as there is a car park right by the gondola entrance.
About $25 will pay for your trip on the gondola to Bob's Peak and although this is quite expensive for what is essentially a chairlift, it provides some quite incredible views over the town and surroundings along with access to the other activities. I can honestly say that some of our best shots of New Zealand were taken here and that is despite visits to the more scenic Milford Sound and Bay of Islands.
The gondola ride itself is not for the feint hearted and is quite steep. On a windy day, even the most adrent non vertigo sufferer will have concerns! At the top, I headed straight for the luge track which isn't quite as "extreme" as it sounds! It basically comprises of a one seater go kart with a steering wheel, brakes and no engine! You travel down one of the two downhill courses (the beginners one is mandatory before taking on the "extreme" course!) and return via a small chairlift. Despite my initial disappointment that this wouldn't be more silimar to the Winter Olympics event, this was great fun and those participating ranged from children to pensioners alike.
The mountain provides other activities too and had a good cafe and restaurant along with a walking trail which takes about 30 minutes to navigate. Weather can be an issue as even though it was a sunny day when we visited, you are on the top of a mountain so it is chilly, bring a jumper! Expect to find the usual souvenir shops and Maori exhibits that adhorn most places in NZ and obviosuly there are options to bungee jump off the side of the mountain which I observed and looked terrifying! All of these things come at an extra price which makes the gondola experience feel a little over priced if I'm going to be overly critical.
Queenstown on South Island attracts visitors for the sports, the nightlife and the sights and scenery. The Skyline complex is a fantastic way to see some of the wonderful scenery as it overlooks the whole town.
Access to the peak :
It is really easy to reach from anywhere within the town, its around a 5 minute walk or so from most parts. My husband i went up in the gondola to see the specatacular views of Queenstown. The gondolas are typical glass capsules like those at ski resorts and seat around 4 people, both ways it was just the two of us in ours and all other couples i saw were the same, so not expected to share with others which is quite nice.
It's quite a steep ride up to Bobs Peak and overall is a just over 700 metres in length to take you to the top terminal at 790 metres. It's a nice steady journey however taking about 15 minutes with lots of time to take in the views and get a few souvenir photos.
From the top you can see right over the town area and beyond from the various observation points. There is one showing you the Lake view and Walter and Cecil Peaks and of course over Queenstown itself and you can view The Remarkables and Coronet Peak from another viewpoint. Wherever you stand the views are amazing and you can get a wonderful panoramic look at the area from here, it gives you a full 220 degrees panorama. Its such a beautiful setting, simply magnificent.
The Gondola ride is open from 9.30 in the mornings and doesnt have a set closing time as its also used by restaurant goers so i expect its after the diners have left and the staff can leave!.
Imagine an 800 metre track that twists and bends and you ride on a sort of plastic 3 wheeler tea tray/go kart affair by a matter of gravity - don't worry it does have brakes however! So you can actually control your speed etc very easily, in theory anyway, more on that later!.
They say on their paraphanelia that its suitable from 'grankids to grandparents' ! -
There are two courses, one is classed as scenic and is a gentler ride with easier bends and more gradula dips and has areas you cans stop for a break if you wish and you can take photos here as well. So i suppose it IS indeed suitable for all , though i can't see my mother in law trying it out anytime soon!
The other course is steeper so is faster and its bends are more twisty with bigger dips and even has a tunnel.
Both courses are 3 metre wide and made of concrete and both are the same length of 800 metres. The courses are scenic themselves as they are amidst trees and of course you have the fantastic view ahead, if you have chance to look that is!.
We duly bought tickets for the luge and had a fantastic time hurling ourselves down the mountain side. We both tried the easy course first which enabled us to get used to the luge itself a couple of times and then we had a few go's on the faster course which was great. I was however most impressed as i managed the more difficult route without mishap whearas my husband crashed and burned on the easier route, most amusing to me anyway hee hee.
Each time you reach the bottom there is a chairlift which takes you back to the top so you dont have to haul yourself up the mountainside, it seats 2.
There is also a walking area over the route for friends and family who are not taking part to watch you and take some snaps as you fly past.
You can buy single tickets or blocks of tickets which we did, you dont even have to use them all at the same time so thats quite good if you want to do a few goes then maybe do some another day as well. The prices no doubt change over seasons but its relatively inexpensive.
The luge is open weather permitting from 9.30 and closes half an hour before dusk usually and also according to demand .
You can relax with drinks in the bar or the skyline cafe and take in the views and you can even have a meal in the revolving restaurant which we did later that evening first having a pre dinner drink in the bar.
The food we had was delicious and the service excellent, it was a really romantic way to spend an evening as the sun set and Queenstowns lights all started to twinkle, a truly memorable visit and one we would love to do again sometime.
They have a 'Taste of New Zealand' buffet every night also which includes soups, seafood such as salmon , mussels, prawns, crab, squid and other local fish, salads, cold meats, then roasted meats including beef and lamb, vegetables, speciality hot dishes, seasonal specialities, they have live cooking displays, a huge array of desserts, cheese selection and teas and coffees. They also cater for Coeliacs by offering some gluten free dishes.
The buffet is a set price $55 for adults and $25 for children and it is essential to book for this as they have different dining times. When we went we had an al a carte menu and not a buffet, we couldnt fault the food at all it was all fantastic and i expect the buffet is just as good, it certainly looked it.
They also have a good selection of wines and spirits to accompany your meal, its definately a lovely dining experience. The tables also are tiered so if you are seated in the centre you should also have great views, we booked the day before and mentioned it was my husbands birthday, which it was, and got a window table.
Lunch is from 12 till 2 and Dinner from 5.45 all year round.
The cafe also has a good menu serving snacks, drinks, alcohol, burgers, sandwiches, paninis, grill menu, kids meals, soups, salads , cakes, pastries etc. There is indoor and outdoor seating so you can take advantage of those views again and watch the people on the luge too!. the cafe is open from 9 till 5 or 7 depending on the season.
There is also a souvenir shop which sells all the things you would expect, T Shirts, local New Zealand goods, Queenstown souvenirs, Skyline souvenirs, knitwear, Paua shell jewellery, local New Zealand Greenstone jewellery, Maoiri goods , mugs, guide books, sweets, chocolates etc etc.
The shop is open each day from 9am.
The other things on the complex are a helipad, A Bungy & Swing and Queenstown Tandem Paragliding i believe but we didnt use any of those so i can't comment on them.
There are walks you can do from the peak too, the shop can sell you a walks guide book with the various ones, some easy 15 minute ones up to gruelling 6 hour hikes!
Skyline Complex also offer a Skyline card which you can buy which i believe offers discounts and freebies, you can get more information from Skyline about that.
All in all this is a great way to spend some time in Queenstown, a scenic ride, beautiful views, a little bit of thrilling fun followed by some good food. - I will add however that we didnt go straight to dinner, we did go back to the hotel to freshen up after our afternoon luge-ing, if you have arestaurant reservation the Gondola is free btw so we didnt have to pay again.
THIS REVIEW WAS PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM - This review has had additions made to it however.
Dont forget to bring your camera. The view is amazing!