They don’t call Queenstown the adventure capital of the world for no reason. The birthplace of bungee jumping and the home of the most famous swing in the world is THE place to be for all thrill-seekers. Whether you want to take a leap of faith, brave the river rapids or scream your heart out on the Nevis Swing, you’re in for a treat. But what if you’re one of those people (like me) who break out in cold sweat just reading this? Should you skip Queenstown altogether? Definitely not. There’s so much more the city has to offer! Here’s the Sandra-approved list of things to do in Queenstown if you’re NOT an adrenaline junkie.
TAKE THE SKYLINE GONDOLA
Seeing Queenstown from Bob’s Peak is an absolute must. The view of the city and Lake Wakatipu with The Remarkables in the background will take your breath away – I promise! If you feel like hiking up the hill and saving a little bit of money in the process, you totally can. It shouldn’t take you more than two hours to reach the top, but you can also simply take the Skyline Gondola. The return ticket costs 44 NZD for adults and 26 NZD for children.
Once at the top, make sure to enjoy the spectacular 220-degree panorama from the viewing platform and have a drink, buffet lunch or dinner with the best view in town at Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar. If you’re in for a thrill, you can also take a ride or two on the Luge. Don’t worry, it’s a kid-approved activity!
TRY THE BEST BURGER IN THE WORLD
Allegedly. Fergburger is an attraction in itself these days. There’s a mile-long queue winding down the road from this iconic gourmet burger joint AT ALL TIMES, so you really can’t miss it. I wasn’t planning on participating in the craze, but after the locals AND my foreign friends who had visited before told me it’s worth the wait, I gave in.
So, was it worth the wait? Hell yeah. While it wasn’t the absolute best burger I’ve ever had (Five Guys is still a winner in my eyes), it was a close second. Big, fresh and juicy. There’s about 20 burgers to choose from, ranging from those prepared with beef, lamb and cod to falafel, pork and venison. The long menu made the 20-minute wait quite convenient for this miss indecisive over here to be completely honest…
The only real downside for me is that you have to be truly lucky to be able to sit down and enjoy the meal. Unexpectedly, Fergburger is still a very small burger joint with ultra limited seating available, so your best bet is to just walk down to the nearby lake and have a picnic-style lunch/dinner.
P.S. If you have a New Zealand SIM card in your phone, you can totally avoid the infamous queue. Just call and pre-order, then skip past the queue to collect your order straight away!
BRAVE THE SHOTOVER JET
I know I said this was an adrenaline-free guide to Queenstown, but I can’t not mention Shotover Jet, a thrilling jet boat ride that takes you along the Shotover River, deep into the spectacular Shotover Canyon. Even though you think you’re going to crash into the rocks any second while you’re speeding at 90 km per hour, over water as shallow as 10 cm (while making 360° spins to top it all off), it’s so much fun! Even for the faint-hearted. I would do it over and over and over again, and that’s coming from a person who screams on the kiddie ‘roller coasters’. Ask my friends.
Shotover Jet is a great entry-level adventure combined with pristine natural beauty and a quick dive (not literal, don’t worry) into the history. Every ride is about half an hour long, during which you stop a few times to wait for the other boat to pass, and learn a bit about the place as well as the boat itself. If I’m ever coming back to Queenstown, I’m definitely going for another spin. Watch this video to see if this is something for you too – I filmed it all!
EXPLORE BOB’S COVE
Secluded Bob’s Cove is only a 15-minute drive from the centre, but feels like a world away from the lively streets of Queenstown. It’s the place where the locals go to relax, take a swim in crystal clear turquoise water, do water sports, or hike up the hill above the stunning lake beaches for a scenic lookout over Lake Wakatipu and the lush green native forest. There are several walks you can take there, the most popular being the longer Twelve Mile Delta and the shorter Bob’s Cove Track, which is the one I went for. You can read all about Bob’s Cove Track in this article.
GO BACK IN TIME IN ARROWTOWN
Arrowtown is a quaint little town 20 km out of Queenstown. With its preserved colonial buildings it almost looks like an Old Western movie set, but it’s a living historical gold mining settlement from the 19th century Otago gold rush. The main street (Buckingham Street) is now boasting with sophisticated boutiques and cafes, while across the road you can find picturesque miners’ cottages and the remains of the Chinese miners’ village a bit further down, by the gold-bearing Arrow river.
SEE THE WORLD-FAMOUS WANAKA TREE
Another place you might want to add to your list is Wanaka, a popular resort town an hour away from Queenstown. It’s the perfect getaway to Mount Aspiring National Park and its Blue Pools Track, but what made the place even more famous in the recent years is the #ThatWanakaTree, an Instagram-famous lone tree growing out of Lake Wanaka.
You might think I’m completely bonkers for driving an hour to see a tree and you might not want to do it yourself, but it’s a unique sight and if you’re a photographer yourself, I’m sure you’ll understand why it landed on my bucket-list. I just wish I caught it in better lighting, without a horde of tourists trying to do the same thing as me – I underestimated just how popular the spot really is.
The Wanaka Tree is located on the left side of the southern end of the lake, with a car parking nearby, so it’s very convenient to get to even if you’re only passing by.
Watch more of my Queenstown adventures below and click HERE to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more travel videos!