I am well and truly head-over-heels in love with Queenstown after my recent trip and I can’t believe how long it has taken me to visit. Despite being a quaint little lake side village, it is a well-oiled, year-round tourism machine making it the perfect getaway any time of the year. I can’t speak for the best things to do when the temperature drops (yet), but here are my top tips for a Queenstown summer getaway:
2. Hot air balloon
Hot air ballooning is easily the best way to start the day. If I could afford it I would love nothing more than waking up before sunset every morning, jumping into a wicker basket with a big-ass balloon attached and floating into the sky followed by a champagne breakfast. Well, that isn’t achievable for most of us, but is a nice treat for when you’re on holiday and there is no better landscape to do this in that Queenstown.
2. Paddle board on the lake
The whole of Queenstown wraps around the beautiful Wakatipu Lake and there is plenty of fun to be had on the water. Water Sports rent out those incredibly dorky (and incredibly fun) water bikes, kayaks and paddle boards. The paddle board is pick of the bunch for me because the lake is so still, clear and flat making it perfect conditions for admiring the crystal clear water from above. If travelling with a group, get the 18ft ‘family sup’ – it can fit up to 8 people on it!
3. Go cycling
The pathways running around the lake are mostly flat and perfect for an easily cycle around the whole town. Cruise into the small town of Frankston and stop off for some fuel (wine and cheese) at the cosy Boatshed Café because heading back.
4. Jet boat
Jet boating is an absolute must! Young, old, fit or lazy – everyone can have fun doing this. It is impossible not to when you are going up to 85km an hour down the Shotover River coming hair-raisingly close to the rocks and feeling the wind in your hair. Rides are about 20 minutes long and happen all day year round.
5. Paraglide off Coronet Peak
During winter Coronet Peak is one of the best mountains to ski down in the area, spanning 1649m high in the sky. All year round you can jump off the mountain with the friend fold at Tandem Paraglide and float, fly and spin around the tree tops between the mountains admiring Queenstown and all its glory from up high.
6. Luge down the mountain
I am not usually one to like tourist hot spots, but it is impossible not to like Skyline on top of Bob’s Peak. Not only do you get to see the city from up high with magical views, you can also luge down the mountain. Yep – both kids AND adults can get their own little bob sled and whip around the course down the mountain. Buy more than 1 ticket, trust me, you won’t regret it.
7. Settle in for a long lunch
Despite being a small town, Queenstown punches high above its weight when it comes to the food scene, helped by the fact that the region has some damn good wine to match. There are lots of good options in the city, but I suggest you venture to Jack’s Point or Amisfield Winery to settle in for a sunny long lunch while admiring the scenery and serenity.
8. Visit nearby Arrowtown
This historic little town about 20 minutes’ drive form Queenstown is a must. The quaint little houses and shops date back to the 1800s when the town was established during the Otago gold rush. Now, it is full of amazing restaurants, shops and things to do like wondering around the old Chinese settlement by the Arrow River.
9. Embrace the sunny nightlife
The sun stays up until about 9:30pm in summer, the hottest part of the day being around 5pm giving you the best of both worlds – day drinking at night time. Lots of the best bars around the town have outdoor areas like Pier 19 by the lake of The World Bar in the middle of town.
10. Go hiking
Queenstown and the surrounding area is a hikers paradise, even if you’re not a camel back, hiking stick carrying pro, there are still plenty of options. From flat, leisurely walks to full day mountainous hikes, there are plenty of options. My picks would be the hour long journey to the blue pools for an easy one, make sure you take your togs for a dip or the Boundary Creek Track for a scenic 6-8 hour journey.