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STA Travel Blog

Shakedown, Queenstown

This week, our CRM executive Carmen Bergne takes the reigns to spill all she knows about New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown…

Home to the world’s first ever bungee jump at Kawarau Bridge, I think it’s safe to say that Queenstown is, well, the queen (excuse the pun) of adventure sports!

Located at the bottom of the South Island, this town is within reaching distance of an extensive range of natural landmarks and diverse landscapes.

It also happens have a string of restaurants, bars and clubs along the shoreline of an extraordinarily beautiful lake which doesn’t hurt when it comes to deciding to stay there.

Whether you’re looking for a 24/7 party, getting as many thrills as you can or taking in vast swathes of natural beauty, Queenstown has it all. So let’s give you the scoop on where to see and be seen during your visit.

Kawarau Bridge Bungy.

Getting to know the adventure capital of the world

Getting there

It may be about as far away from the UK as you can get, but if anywhere is worth the long journey it’s New Zealand.

Even if you only have 2 or 3 weeks to spare, it’s definitely worth the trip. You can fly return with a host of airlines such as Qantas, Emirates, Air New Zealand or, if you have a bit longer, why not include it as a stop in a wider multi-stop trip. New Zealand is only a few hours from Australia and it’s also a great way to add a different element to a trip to Asia.

New Zealand has an amazing touring infrastructure, so once you arrive if you haven’t already pre-hired yourself a campervan or bagged a hop-on hop-off bus pass, do it now – it’s undoubtedly the best way to get to Queenstown and to explore both islands in general.

Adventure activities

Year round, there are stomach clenching adrenaline sports to be had throughout Queenstown. So here’s a shortlist of the main adrenaline sports…

During the winter there are four ski and snowboard areas in the mountains above the town, which also create amazing mountain biking, horse trekking and hiking routes during the summer months.

If you’re looking to scare your socks off, the Nevis Canyon Swing stands at 134m high and provides a free fall experience of 8.4 seconds and, if you ask nicely, the guys at the Kawaru Bridge bungy can make sure you are dunked headfirst in the river 141 feet below *gulp*! If you want to throw yourself off something without a rope attached, paragliding, and sky diving are amongst some of the other airborne adrenaline sports on offer.

Prefer the water? There are a wide range of water sports on offer at the lake and other local rivers including white water rafting and jet boating. In fact, this town is so sporty, that the local parks even have frisbee golf winding between the trees and an ice-skating rink secreted at its centre. Believe me when I say – you will never be bored!

A beautiful view of Queenstown.

Nightlife

As a backpacker Mecca, you’d expect Queenstown to have an impressive selection of bars and restaurants to keep visitors happy; and you wouldn’t be wrong.

There are nightly bar crawls where you can hop from an acoustic night in a log cabin-esq pub to a 80’s themed salsa club within seconds. Most of the hostels have their own friendly bars on street level, so you can meet a group of fellow explorers before heading out to your pick of pubs and bars.

There are two cuisine specialities in Queenstown that simply have to be tried. The Skyline Gondola takes you to the top of a cliff above the town to eat a slightly pricey dinner with views across what can only be described as a wonderland of nature.

If you don’t mind a bit of a queue people come from far and wide to try a Fergburger… almost every New Zealand tour stops there, and when you bite into one of their delish concoctions you will know why. If it needs selling further, check out on blog Does Fregburger do the Best Burger in the World?

The town’s shopping centre hosts a few quick bite places and if you’re missing home and fancy some English grub both Irish bars will land you with a steak and chips in no time at all.

There's lots going on in winter, including the Queenstown Winter Festival.

Weather and when to visit

One of the (many) things New Zealand’s got going for it is the weather. In the summer months, which for this part of the world are December, January and February you can enjoy gorgeous blue skies and bask in the sunshine around Queenstown’s gorgeous blue lake.

The scale of temperatures are not quite as large as in the UK, with summer ranging from 10 degrees to 22 and winter from 1-10 degrees. The good thing about Queenstown is that it’s a 100% a year long destination, so even in the winter there is a ton of winter activities such as Ski and glacier hiking to keep you entertained. Queenstown also hosts its own Winter Festival which you can read about here in our blog 11 Reasons to Head to New Zealand in Winter.

Where to stay

As we mentioned earlier… this is backpacker Mecca, so there are plenty of option when choosing where you will stay.

We may be talking about a town, but there is a distinctly ‘villagy’ feel so every accommodation option is going to be quite central. There are also hotels spotted around town and if you don’t want to be in amongst the hustle and bustle you can find a haven of peace just 10 mins from the centre of town.

Check out Base, Nomads and Reavers Lodge Queenstown, all in the heart of the action.

Close to Queenstown

Aside from the oodles of adventure activities you can find in the local area the central street in town has a bevy of busses leaving throughout the day and shipping people to the many surrounding areas and their famous sights. Like the idea of scrabbling around down deep caves looking for gold? Then take a trip to Arrowtown, it’s the home of one of New Zealand’s most historic gold mining sites.

The journey to Milford Sound offers a completely different experience unveiling beautiful scenic changes as you travel past rocky outcrops and through lush valleys. You are guaranteed to feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland when you reach the Sound and take in its many waterfalls, seals and even dolphins by boat.

Last but not least you’ve got wine tasting tours, it wouldn’t be a trip to New Zealand without one, so grab a local and ask them where the best tours depart.

There are a huge number of adventures waiting for you in New Zealand, check out our awesome group adventure tours to help you make sure you see the very best both islands have to offer – including wonderful Queenstown.
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