Dubbed ‘the adventure capital’, Queenstown attracts people from all over the world. Known as a bustling, overflowing hotpot of different nationalities, beliefs and backgrounds, Queenstown has firmly earned its spot as a ‘must see’ location in New Zealand. Like every other visitor, as soon as I landed in Queenstown (the pilot very precariously weaving his way between all the snow capped mountains), I was sucked in by the glistening lake, vibrant atmosphere and- most importantly- the infamous Ferg burger. I ended up overstaying my visit by 12 months and so, a full year later, I am coming to you with a certified locals guide to the very best Queenstown has to offer.
1) Bungee Jump 134 Metres
Queenstown hasn't gained it’s reputation for getting its visitors adrenaline pumping without reason. Thanks to Mr A.J Hackett, it is celebrated as the birthplace of the bungee jump- an insane idea which encourages people to throw themselves from huge heights. If that wasn't enough to get your knees knocking, Queenstown also boasts one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, located at the Nevis Playground. Although when standing on the edge of the 134 metre high platform, you may feel as if you are about to physically throw up into the abyss, it is honestly an amazing feeling and well worth experiencing! Check out my Speedy7 for the best adrenaline fuelled experiences in Queenstown.
2) Speed along Shotover River
Keeping with the adrenaline fuelled theme, if you are looking for some
thing a little closer to the ground then look no further than the famous Shotover Jet. The jet boat speeds its way down the Shotover river, taking corners so tightly you feel like you are going to go crashing straight into them, all while the highly skilled drivers throw the jet boat into a series of 360 degree spins. Shotover Jet is definitely exhilarating but can be pricy- for a more affordable (and less terrifying) version, head into central Queenstown and check out the KJet and GoOrange jetboats.
3) Eat a Ferg Burger (or three)
If all that adventure has made you peckish, then there’s only one place in Queenstown to head next. Established as a tiny stand in the back of a snow rental shop, Ferg Burger has grown to be famous throughout New Zealand due to delicious food and the owner refusing to franchise- meaning Queenstown is the only place in the world you can get a Ferg! Fill up on thick juicy burgers (there is also vegan and vegetarian options) and make sure you get aioli sauce with your chips- best in Queenstown. Beware: it is a real tourist trap and because of this, queues can wind their way all the way up the street with visitors regularly waiting for hours. Ferg Burger only closes for three hours a day (between 5 and 8am!) so be smart about when you decide to visit; eg, try and avoid key meal times.
4) Eat a Ferg bakery (or three)
While you are queuing, you may as well pop next door to Ferg Bakery to warm up your stomachs before your burger. The pies are exceptional and the desserts are even better- do not leave Queenstown without sampling the Boston Cream bun, and the vanilla cheesecake.
5) Eat a Mrs Ferg Ice- cream (or three)
And then, there's no point leaving one stone unturned so you may as well make it a hat trick and finish your evening with an ice cream from Mrs. Ferg (I swear this blog is not sponsored, it really is all just that good). An evening in Queenstown can be made complete by getting a Mrs. Ferg ice cream- I recommend the chocolate brownie flavour- then wandering down to the lake front to eat it while the sun sets through the mountains.
6) Hike to the top of a mountain
If you are starting to worry about the detrimental effects on your waistline, there are plenty of local hikes available for you to work off those calories. The best (and most challenging) is the Ben Lomond hike which takes trekkers through dense forest and up a steep finale to the mountain summit. The hike can take around 4-5 hours return and requires a relative level of fitness, but the views from the top make the sweat and throbbing legs worth it. Top tip: if you are feeling too full of Ferg to attempt the full hike, get the gondola to the top of the Skyline and start from there.
7) Visit Queenstown Skyline
If you want to get the views without having to hike up a mountain (no judgement here), Queenstown Skyline is the perfect place for you to spend an afternoon. Either catch the gondola up or challenge yourself a little and walk the Tiki Trail. This trail only takes about an hour and is a free alternative to the gondola! At the top, soak up the panoramic mountain views with a coffee. For a real treat, book in to eat at the Stratosfare restaurant and get ready to stuff yourself with a delicious all you can eat buffet, with a truly outstanding view.
8) Go Luging!
While at the Skyline, you have to try luging! Another hilarious New Zealand invention, it involves clambering into a little Go-Kart type buggy and letting gravity take its course as you roll your way back down the mountain.
9) Catch your breath over some coffee
No day is complete without (at least) one coffee stop, and luckily Queenstown is not short of options. My personal favourite was a great little place called McKenzie’s- there’s limited seating options but with the views on offer from the lakefront, who would want to sit inside anyway? For more great options, check out my Speedy7 for the best coffee destinations in Queenstown.
10) Go skiing!
Of course, Queenstown is a famous skiing destination. With Coronet Peak and the Remarkables just forty minutes drive away, and the larger Cardrona ski field only an hour away, it is difficult to find a more ideal base for your ski holiday. Ski hire shops pop up all over town as soon as the winter season begins (for a cheaper option, check out the charity shops for secondhand gear) and lessons are offered at both mountains, so there is really no excuse not to strap two thin pieces of plastic to your feet and spend the day slipping and sliding your way down a mountain.
12) The Ernslaw Experience:
For a real activity to remember, spend an evening sailing the Wakatipu lake on the infamous Ernslaw ship, which is fuelled by coal and is older than the Titanic! Cruise across to Walters Farm and enjoy an unlimited buffet dinner, followed by a sheep shearing and sheep dog show. Remember to check bookme.co.nz for cheaper tickets!
Now you officially know all the best things to do in Queenstown, go ahead and make some memories in one of the most beautiful places in the world!