Have you heard the expression: Queenstown – adventure capital of New Zealand? Yes, it is one of the most popular destinations for international visitors.This town provides activities for any interest, budget, and physical ability.
Here is the incredibly long list I wrote down from tourist brochures: whitewater rafting, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking, zip lining, paragliding, bungee jumping, hiking, rock climbing, downhill skiing, fishing, hot air ballooning, trekking, and more.
We came to Queenstown at the end of December. The weather was delightful. It was summer in New Zealand, but it was not hot because Queenstown is located 1,020 ft above sea level on the Lake Wakatipu and nestled among mountains. This area has beautiful nature and stunning scenery.
Because of its Z-shaped outline, the Lake Wakatipu rises and falls by 10 centimeters every 20 minutes. The lake is very picturesque, but the water is icy cold. Our guide warned us not to swim in this frigid lake. There were a few cases of drowning when the tourists didn’t realize how cold the water was. The people who know it, swim only in the wetsuits.
Our group was placed at Novotel Hotel. We stayed at Novotel hotels before, in several countries, and were always more than satisfied with this chain. Our room on the second floor had a balcony with a view of the lake.
This hotel has a big courtyard with a rose garden. The roses were unusually big and beautiful. I tried to smell each one. At breakfast, I noticed a lot of Japanese tourists. Probably because of that, the breakfast bar included a lot of Japanese dishes. I was in heaven!
The activity we chose – hiking
Did I mention that I am afraid of heights and speeds? In Queenstown, I chose my favorite and safest activity – hiking. Besides, this healthy physical activity was free.
Our first hike was on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. During several hours of this walk, we never lost the sight of the lake – the hiking trail was built close to the water. We were not the only ones who chose this “safe” activity. On this scenic path, we met young and old people, bicyclists, families with children and dogs. We ate our lunch on the bench, under the shady tree and enjoyed the incredible view of the lake and mountains.
Next day, we went hiking up the mountain. Living in South Florida, we are used to walking on the beach. Nice and flat. Hiking up the hill was a challenge that we were looking forward to.
People can get to the top of this mountain by gondola. The Skyline Gondola offers incredible vistas over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the jagged peaks beyond. It takes people up to the 446-meter-high summit of Bob’s Peak.
We could take the gondola up the mountain, but we preferred to walk. Occasionally, we had to quickly step to the side of the trail to give way to the mountain bikers. At the neck-breaking speed, these brave (crazy?) people were going down the hill on the windy path, miraculously avoiding trees, rocks, and roots.
I just marveled at the skill and the guts of these adventures people. I am sure that sometimes accidents occurred, but during our long hike up and then down we did not witness any mishaps. Probably only highly skilled bicyclists attempt this dangerous ride.
Sometimes, we could hear the buzzing sounds above our heads – these were the tourists going down the mountain on the Zip-Line (called “flying foxes” in New Zealand). As tiring, as our hike was, we enjoyed the views, fresh air, and the entertainment, provided by the adventurers on bikes and zip-line.
The Zip-Line rides start from the summit. It was fun looking at people getting ready for this activity. Some of them seemed tense, even scared to do it for the first time in their life. I’ve never done it, and I am not going to try, but am I always fascinated watching this activity.
We spent a few hours on the summit. The views from there were incredible: we could see the mountain peaks surrounding the lake, and the town below. From this height, the water in the lake looked deep blue.
Inexpensive places to eat in Queenstown
We do not like sitting in the restaurants if we have the opportunity to spend time outside. When we returned from a mountain hike, we gave ourselves a treat. We got $10 hamburgers in the Fergburger Restaurant which was just a few steps from the waterfront. We sat on the stone steps by the water, eating the biggest and tastiest burgers we ever had and watching boats, people, birds.
On the second day, as we were walking through the Queenstown, our guide pointed to a little “hole in the wall” and said that this is the best take-out for fish and chips. I memorized the location of this place immediately. Recently, I tried to find this place on Google, but it was not there. Maybe it is just too small to be noticed by the search engines.
In the evening most people from our group went to look for places to eat dinner. My husband and I went for a long walk along the lakeshore. Then, we stopped at the supermarket to get a local beer and bought fish and chips at the take-out recommended by our guide.
After returning to the hotel, we had a wonderful time, sitting on our balcony, looking at the lake and the mountains, breathing the fresh mountain air, and enjoying a beer with fish and chips. It felt like a celebration.
Later, looking down from the balcony, we could see people from our group returning from the restaurants. A few of them, seeing us eating fish and chips, said they wished that they would do the same – have a great dinner on the cheap, with a view of the lake.
My husband was so impressed with Queenstown that he said that he would love to spend our retirement years there. I also fell in love with this picturesque town. I wish we would spend more than four days in this incredible place and tried more activities. I wholeheartedly agree with the expression: Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand.