Queenstown is known for exquisite mountain views, adventure/adrenaline sports, and nightlife. This was my favorite city we visited in New Zealand and it contained perhaps the highlight of the whole trip for me (well, at least in the top 3): The Skyline Luge.
So, you pay $50 and take the gondola ride up the side the Remarkables Mountain range, which is the steepest gondola ride in the Southern hemisphere. Then, you take another smaller ski lift to the very top of the mountain where the Skyline Luge awaits. The luge is a gravity-propelled go kart track that highlights fast turns, competition and stunning views that you can’t fully appreciate as you’re whizzing down the mountain side. Their tagline is ‘Once is Never Enough’ and they are so right. Included in the $50, you can go down the course 5 times. SO AWESOME!
There is also a restaurant at the top of the mountain called StratosFare, just in case the luge isn’t your thing. It can be a bit pricey for food/drinks, but worth it for the elevated views on a nice day. You can also bungy jump from the top of the mountain as well. The prominent and historic bungee company in Queenstown is A.J. Hackett. They have a huge and well-organized operation with three different sites to bungy. Their original site is located 15 minutes from downtown Queenstown at the Kawarau Bridge and transportation is included in your ticket. The bridge is 43 meters high and you can get ‘dunked’ into the Kawarau River below. Even if you don’t want bungy, it is entertaining to go check out this site as they have a ‘Liquid Courage’ Bar and it is a really well-done facility.
I had exactly zero interest in bungy jumping because I’m a wuss. BUT, for all you adrenaline junkies, there is another bungy site located a bit further out of Queenstown (still operated by A.J. Hackett) that is 134 meters high and allows you free fall for 8.5 seconds. It is called the Nevis Bungy and it is not for the feint of heart. I was freaked out just watching. Located at the same site as the Nevis Bungy is the Nevis Swing, which is the world’s highest swing at 160 meters high. This is the one I did. The freakiest part is walking out to the platform in middle of the canyon on a 150 ft suspended pathway… that is swaying in the breeze. It was all downhill from there (literally).
Since Queenstown has so many adrenaline and outdoor sports (mountain biking, hiking, skiing, etc), it also attracts a ton of young people and tourists… which leads to great restaurants and nightlife. Here are a couple places I can recommend:
- Brecon Street Merchant – Solid cocktails and good bar food. They had $1 wings one night with a wing eating competition. Believe it or not, their wings are some of the best I’ve ever had. They also have board games, a pool table upstairs, and balcony seating with a nice view.
- Steamer Warf – A number of restaurants/bars right on the water. Good place for a drink and occasional food special. The Pub on Warf was our favorite with solid beer options and really good live music.
- Ballarat Trading Co. – We had a big night here. Made friends from all over the world. Again, good live music and drink selection. Had some very interesting decor with red ceilings, a gigantic stuffed bear, and newspapers on the walls.
- Prime Restaurant – Go here for a drink during sunset on a clear day. Best view of the sun lighting up Lake Wakatipu, boats, and mountains.
- The Cow – Historical building they turned into a restaurant. Candle-lit wooden tables, stained glass windows and cool history. Their garlic bread was amazing!
I had the best time in Queenstown and I know I didn’t get to experience everything. Live music, good drinks/foods, cool people, beautiful scenery… what else could you ask for?
Interested in vineyards near Queenstown? Read these reviews: