On the shores of Lake Wakatipu amidst spectacular mountain scenery, Queenstown sits like a prize jewel in New Zealand’s crown. Deemed the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown enjoys a reputation as THE place to experience a whole range of adrenaline pumping action. It is also the snowsports hub of the Southern Hemisphere boasting world-class skifields on its doorstep. An obvious drawcard in the winter there are infact many facets to this stunningly beautiful place, that make Queenstown a destination for all seasons.
As an entertainment venue Queenstown outdoes itself for its size. Inundated with cafes offering that perfect latte, plenty of fine-dining and casual dining options and lots of cool bars and party spots, a night out in Queenstown is always a vibrant experience.
There are several golf courses in the Wakatipu basin all integrated into the incredible scenery. The New Zealand Golf Open has been held at The Hills Golf Course, right in the heart of the Wakatipu Basin, over the past three years.
Bungy-jumping: the quintessential Queenstown adventure
The Skyline Gondola is a great way to take in the spectacular vistas as it climbs its way above the township, into the mountains. A chairlift at the top of the gondola takes the visitor right to the top to enjoy an exhilarting luge-ride down.
Wine-tasting some of the world’s premier pinot noir out at Gibbston (the Valley of Wines) is another fantastic option. A 20 minute drive from downtown Queenstown and you are transported to a magical setting of vineyards stretching up to craggy mountain outlines towering above.
Most of the ‘adventure’ activities are also on the menu all year round. From jet-boating on the Shotover and Kawarau rivers, to bungy-jumping at the original AJ Hackett jump-site to white-water rafting to para-gliding and scenic flights over the Southern Alps.
Any of the above-mentioned activities are there for the taking no matter what time of the year. However, some things lend themselves to a particular part of the year.
Top of Tobins Track looking out over the Wakatipu Basin
Central Otago summers are renowned for their hot intense sunshine, clear skies and long daylight hours. With the hills and mountains in such close proximity to the township, Queenstown offers fantastic mountain-biking opportunities literally on its doorstep. The New Zealand government is developing a nation-wide system of cycleways and several are in Queenstown’s Wakatipu region. The Skyline Gondola (the only gondola-assisted mountain biking facility in New Zealand), takes mountain bikers up to Bob’s Peak to access the Queenstown Bike Park which has nine trails through the Ben Lomond Forest. Head to NZbyBike.com for full details of Queenstown’s cycle trails.
The Wakatipu valley has several glacial-fed lakes and waterways which make for great swimming and watersports activities throughout the area.
Hiking (or tramping) is a very popular past-time in this beautiful area of New Zealand. There are several walking tracks stemming from Queenstown itself and lots of longer world-famous tracks including the Routeburn nearby.
All aglow in Arrowtown
Although the trees surrounding Queenstown are evergreen, there are a multitude of desciduous tree species throughout the Queenstown area. Arrowtown, a quaint (historically gold-mining) village approximately 20 minute drive from downtown Queenstown really comes into its own during Autumn. A spectacular autumnal glow covers the hillside overlooking the little town which is celebrated during the Arrowtown Autumn Festival every April/May.
Queenstown is New Zealand’s premier winter sports resort with several northern hemisphere ski teams descending on the town for training during their summer. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables skifields are easily accessible by short drives from central Queenstown.
There is also the option of hopping over the Crown Range to the lesser-known but equally beautiful Wanaka, to explore Cardrona and Treble Cone skifields.The Snow Park is also over Wanaka-way with world-class cross-country skiing and snowboarding facilities.
Queenstown hosts the Winter Festival which is a 10 day spectacle of snow-based fun-filled activities. The central village green is transformed into a magical outdoor ice-skating rink and musicians and entertainers descend on the alpine resort for a dazzling array of performances. Opening with a fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu the Winter Fest is not to be missed.
Springtime in Queenstown Gardens
When the snow starts to melt, new buds appear hailing the beginning of a new growing season and what better way to appreciate this than with a stroll in the Queenstown Gardens. Reaching out into Lake Wakatipu on a little peninsula, the Queenstown Gardens boast gorgeous flower beds and plant displays. This is a great time of year to enjoy some Frisbee golf around the garden’s 18 ‘hole’ course. It is also time to swap out the skis and snowboard for the mountain bike and walking shoes and explore the surrounding countryside.
So, whatever time of year you plan a visit to Queenstown there is no risk of disappointment or shortage of activities to keep you occupied. In fact, the only disappointment will be that there is so much to do you’ll just have to come back again. Plan for at least four visits – so you can sample each season’s offerings!