This article could have had many suitable titles, such as 5 Ways to Piss Your Money Away in Queenstown, 5 Fun-filled Summer Activities in Queenstown, or, if anyone is interested 5 Queenstown Activities You Can Do with a Spinal Condition (my brother can testify)… One thing is for sure: there are plenty of touristy things to do in Queenstown!
Summer in Queenstown is a different vibe to winter. The “Adrenalin Capital of the World” becomes crawling with tourists. No one is staying too long – they come to take photos, go on a boat or bungy jump, then leave. For two weeks I partcipated in a ‘holiday’ in Queenstown with my brother and dad, giving me a chance to try out the pricey activities that I hadn’t had the chance when I was too poor and too obsessed with snow in winter.
1. Jet boat
360 spins! That’s why you go on a jet boat. Queenstown has heaps of jet boating companies. There’s Shotover Jet, which is a 30 minute ride involving close calls with rock faces. Wilderness Jet is a great way to see some of the Mt Aspiring National Park and Glenorchy – it’s a half day sort if deal. The jet boat we did was the Kjet, a 45 minute to an hour journey from the Queenstown wharf, along the Kawrau River, up the Shotover River and back again. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s adrenalin-fuelled but it was still really fun. Never pay full price for a jet boat ride – there’s heaps of deals in town or on discount booking websites.
Oh my god, skydiving is insane! And so so so much fun. It’s adrenalin minus the fear so it’s perfect! You have no depth perception from 15,000ft so you don’t feel like you’re going to die. People always recommend Queenstown skydiving for the view but to be honest, I was not thinking about the view as I was hurtling through the air. Plus, the windows are too small to appreciate the view from the plane. Nevertheless, the activity must be added to your bucket list. Do it! Do it now!
Price: 15,000ft is NZ$439. Video and shit costs more.
3. Milford Sound
Why is this always classed as a Queenstown activity? Yes, the famous fiord is close to Lake Wakatipu but you have to drive for about 4 hours around mountains to get there! Anyway, the whole drive through the Fiordland National Park is certainly mind blowingly beautiful and Milford Sound continues this wow factor out to the open water. There’s nothing wrong with Milford Sound, except for people hyping it up so much you expect this place to make all your dreams come true. Only that reason could evoke the reaction my brother had when the cruise reached the end of the fiord: “Is that it?” Yes, Ben. This is probably the most beautiful place you’ll ever see but yeah… that’s it. Check out my review of Milford Sound here. I have now tried Real Journeys and Jucy Cruise at the same time of day – both are the same trip except Jucy was quieter so you weren’t pushed around by mad tourists.
Jucy Cruise: 9am-ish NZ$45, 11am-ish NZ$69, 1pm-ish NZ$79, and 3.15pm NZ$65.
4. Nevis Swing Tandem
I was pooping my pants to put it mildly. As you look at the deep cayon lying beneath you, this is the sort of depth perception that freaks you the hell out. My brother and I chose this tandem canyon swing because it was smooth enough for my bro to handle with his spinal condition. Yet it stilled involved a freefall into the canyon! It was over quickly but so cool I wanted to do it again!
5. Lord of the Rings 4×4 Tour
No New Zealand trip is complete without getting your “ringer” nerd-on. My choice of this 4WD tour with Nomad Safaris was because I thought it would take us to places we could not otherwise reach in the car, which would allow my bro to get to hard to reach places. Every location we went to is accessible by car… However, our guide was fantastic, funny and knew far more than what’s socially acceptable about The Lord of the Rings. Hell, We learned a lot more about Queenstown, Glenorchy and Paradise too, so we all really enjoyed it!