The bustling backpacker hub that is Queenstown is nestled snuggly by the side of the stunning Lake Wakatipu below the iconic Remarkables mountains range. The adventure capital of the world has enough going on to keep you occupied for weeks, so we’ve picked out our must-do highlights to ensure that you BUCKiTDREAMERs do Queenstown like a boss!
Take the Plunge at Nevis Bungee The 3rd highest bungee jump in the world! The Nevis bungee is just a short drive out of Queenstown and is an absolute must for all you thrill-seekers out there. Run by bungee gurus AJ Hackett who’ll help you plan your jump. The 134m swan dive out of a cable car over the Nevis River in the Southern Alps is guaranteed to be an experience you will never forget, but if this death-defying leap wakes your inner adrenaline junkie, no need to stop there! The AJ Hackett crew also have the Nevis Swing and the Ledge Bungy up at the Skyline Gondola and, last but not least, the first ever commercial bungee jump at Kawarau Bridge. Happy jumping!
Hike Up Ben Lomond Towering above the town is majestic Ben Lomond. It’s a challenging stomp up to the top – 1,748m to be exact – but the panoramic views once you get there are worth every step. You can gaze right down along to the bottom of the Lake Wakatipu and out across the Southern Alps, with mountains as far as the eye can see. There are several tracks to choose from and if you’re feeling a bit tired or fancy an alternative route down hop on the Skyline Gondola from Bob’s Peak or try out Queenstown’s very own unique luge, a non-motorized go-cart that hurtles down an 800m track.
Enjoy Cocktails and Tapas at Eichardt’s Bar Eichardt’s Private Hotel is perched right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and has a rich history – the bar’s been serving customers since 1867. The relaxed, elegant atmosphere means it’s a hit with locals and visitors alike. Our favorite time to visit the cozy bar is on a winter’s afternoon to sit by the open fire and enjoy the fabulous cocktails and tantalizing tapas. The menus change with the seasons and are consistently filled with sumptuous surprises. For you early birds, Eichardt’s breakfast is legendary – the Eggs Benedict is an absolute must!
Anyone for Frisbee Golf? Yep, it’s a thing… Set in the lush green Queenstown Gardens on the lake’s edge is the town’s very own frisbee golf course. Pick up your disks and score cards at one of the sports stores in the town center or at the ice rink in the gardens. There are 18 holes (giant chain baskets!) for you to try and gracefully float your frisbees into and golf rules apply; for example, four of the holes are four par and there are tee off areas. This is a great way to while away a sunny afternoon and once you’ve bought your frisbee, it’s totally free!
It’s Your Round at Bardeaux We could spend all day enthusing about QT’s nightlight but Bardeaux’s effortlessly chic demeanor ticks our boxes every time. This is the perfect place to kick back after dinner over a glass of New Zealand’s finest (the wine list is epic), or hunker down on one of the big comfy sofas by the roaring fire with friends and sip on one of the expertly made cocktails. Choose one off the list or ask one of the warm and welcoming staff to make you your favorite tipple.
Get a Fantastic Feed at Fergburger A visit to Queenstown just would not be complete without a visit to Fergburger. This is the burger joint of burger joints. It started out as a humble hole in the wall in 2001 and quickly rose in popularity to become one of the most iconic eateries in town. Choose between the classic Ferg (NZ beef with all the trimmings), the Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland deer with Thai plum chutney), the Cockadoole Oink (butterflied chicken breast, bacon and avocado) or the Bun Laden (falafel with a lemon yoghurt and chipotle cream sauce)…hungry yet?! This place gets busy, so be prepared to queue at peak grub times – however, it’s open 21 hours a day! Still peckish? Pop next door to Fergbaker and pick up a one of their classic Kiwi meat pies, the perfect post-night out nosh.
Set Sail On the Earnslaw The TSS Earnslaw (or Earnie, as she is affectionately called by the locals) is a beautiful 104-year-old steam boat that makes regular trips out onto Lake Wakatipu. Take in the full beauty of Queenstown from the bridge, check out the impressive engine room or grab a drink from the onboard bar. Cruises last for 90 minutes but you can book a longer trip combined with a visit to Walter Peak for a barbeque or evening dinner.
Welcome to Paradise (and Glenorchy!) Take a drive down the lake from Queenstown and you’ll stumble upon Glenorchy and Paradise. This might just be one of the most spectacular drives in New Zealand, and there’s some serious competition! For those Middle Earth fans among you, it’s the site of several of the Lord of the Rings filming locations and it is also where critically acclaimed TV drama ‘Top of the Lake’ was set. Unlike tourist-tastic QT, Glenorchy is sleepy and unassuming, a great place to unwind after an activity-packed visit to its boisterous neighbor. Further up the road in Paradise (named so after an abundance of paradise shelducks but could also have been due to its stunning scenery) you can get back to basics by in rustic huts and cottages with no electricity in spectacular settings rented out by the Paradise Trust. One even has its very own double outdoor bath heated by fires underneath! Bliss and heaven guaranteed.
Now you’re ready to conquer Queenstown, why not keep adding to your BUCKiTDREAM list with 8 of the most jaw dropping sports activities in the world or the top five places in the world to swim with dolphins?