Let’s face it; you’re spoilt for things to do in Queenstown. It’s undoubtedly the ‘extreme sports’ capital of the world with more extreme activities in one place than any other town on the planet. If you’re planning on spending more than a couple of weeks in Queenstown and on a bit of a budget, how do you pick the best things to do in Queenstown? Our Peak Leaders trainees, staff and Facebook friends have put together a list of our 10 best things to do in Queenstown. Peak Leaders have been training ski and snowboard instructors down in Queenstown for almost 10 years so we’ve got a really good idea of what you’ll love and what is a bit of a waste of time and money.
It may sound like something out of the Disney film Tron; however Disc Golf, or Frisbee Golf if you are British, is one of the most popular activities for backpackers and trainee ski/snowboard instructors. It doesn’t cost any money once you’ve bought a Frisbee, paid the $20 lifetime membership and it’s a good way to clear your head after a night on the town.
Queenstowners are so passionate about Disc Golf that they have a designated course in the centre of town which runs tournaments throughout the year on the first Sunday of every month. There are many notable members of the Queenstown Disc Golf Club including professional skiers and snowboarders and many of Queenstown’s high society……of which there are few!
If you haven’t jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft…what are you waiting for you Chicken?! Skydiving in Queenstown isn’t just skydiving; it’s skydiving over some of the most breathtaking scenery on Mother Earth in the epicenter of the extreme sports World.
You may blow your budget for the entire week but it’s much cheaper than doing it in other countries and the views aren’t even comparable! There aren’t many stunts that will get you a free drink from the bar staff in a Queenstown Bar…..but this is one of them! For more info have a chat to the guys and girls at NZONE! in the centre of town.
It isn’t hard to find an epic view inSouthern New Zealand; even a 32GB memory card will only last a couple of days down there. There are a few viewpoints around Queenstown that will leave you genuinely speechless; this particular view is the best of the lot!
If you find yourself skiing or snowboarding up at the Remarkables and it’s a beautiful sunny day then make your way to the Shadow Basin chairlift at the bottom of the learner area. The views from the top of this chairlift over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu are unrivalled.
Although Cardrona is technically closer to Wanaka it’s definitely nice to make the occasional trip over to take advantage of their long runs and killer snowboard park.
Peak Leaders like to take their trainees across to Cardrona for the Burton New Zealand Open. The NZ Open is the Southern Hemisphere’s most important and prestigious event on the World competition circuit. For four days in August the ‘crème de la crème’ of the snowboard world descend upon Cardrona to compete in both the Superpipe and Slopestyle events. Expect to see heavy hitters like Shaun White, Louie Vito, Mark McMorris and Seb Touts killing both the Superpipe and some of the largest jumps on the planet.
Getting to Cardrona only takes 40 minutes from Queenstown. Info & Track run two services up to Cardrona daily from the centre of town. If you’re going by car make sure you pop into the Cardrona Hotel for a swift pint by the numerous log fires.
It’s fair to say that Queenstown has more than its fair share of bars. For a town that has a population of less than 20,000 full-time residents the 50 or so pubs and bars that are crammed into the town centre could be considered overkill. Nevertheless, with so many bars on offer it isn’t hard to find a bar that suits your music taste, dress policy and serves your favorite tipple. Notable bars are Searle Lane and Social, Dux De Lux, The Buffalo Club, Revolver and last but by no means least Debajo.
Sitting in a back alley called Cow Lane is Debajo. It doesn’t look like much from the outside and to be perfectly honest it doesn’t look like much from the inside! Debajo is a late night venue with a plethora of exciting drinks and raging music. If you find yourself at midnight stood outside in the cold looking for somewhere to go then make your way to Debajo and you won’t be disappointed. Although the list of drinks on offer is long and distinguished the crowd pleaser is definitely a drink called the Volcano which comprises mostly of Bacardi 151…I’d advise skipping this drink if you have an action-packed day planned for the following day.
For those more civilized members of society a good place to go is the Revolver Bar. This is one of Queenstown’s cooler venues which often plays host to some great live music acts and world famous DJ’s. Revolver also build a plywood skateboard ramp in the middle of the main room towards the end of the season, so if you’re a keen skateboarder don’t forget to take your deck.
If you’ve spent some considerable time in Queenstown you’ll know that it isn’t very often that snow settles in the town or at the base of the mountains. It just doesn’t get cold enough……although when you’re skiing on Coronet Peak and the wind is blowing you sideways you’ll find that statement very hard to believe.
So when snow does settle all the way to the base of the mountain there are only a couple of days each season when there is enough coverage for skiers and snowboarders to be able to ride all the way from the highest lift to the very bottom of the mountain. If you’re lucky enough to attempt this little adventure on a powder day you’ll be guaranteed to ride untouched powder over some of the most enjoyable terrain New Zealand has to offer. Be warned: when attempting this feat you’ll have to jump a number of high fences, cross countless ditches and streams and the base of your skis may never be the same again!
If you’re a skier or snowboarder and you haven’t heard of Snow Park you’re either really uncool or you’re really, really old! Only kidding…..or am I?
In simple terms Snow Park is just a snowpark; one lift, several massive jumps, countless jibs (rails and boxes) and one big old icy Superpipe. It’s the only resort in the world where you don’t want to be riding powder! Those of you who enjoy freestyle skiing and snowboarding will love this freestyle Mecca and those of you who would rather cruise a groomed piste or tumble your way down a steep face will hate Snow Park with a passion.
It’s fair to say that Snow Park is one of the most inspirational places to ride on the planet. The whole place is teeming with excitement and energy; on a good day you won’t be able list the number of pro skiers and snowboarders lapping the jump and rail line because you’ll run out of paper. If you want to see your snowboarding hero’s throwing Doublecorks and 1440’s in the flesh, or find yourself a new boyfriend, Snow Park is the place to be.
No visit to New Zealand is complete without jumping off a really high platform with a giant elastic band wrapped around your legs.
Queenstown is in fact the home of ‘modern’ Bungee jumping and was the first place to operate a commercial jump for members of the public. A J Hackett, started the whole phenomenon 30 years ago, he owns and runs all three bungee jumps in Queenstown and has been making intrepid backpackers wet their pants since the late 80’s . Out of the three jumps on offer the biggest and best jump is the Nevis Highwire Bungee which hangs 134m over a narrow ravine…..it’s absolutely petrifying!
If you’re looking for Queenstown’s ultimate adrenalin-pumping experience then look no further. Warning: if you’re petrified of confined spaces, heights, bad dance music or men with long hair then I’d look probably give the Nevis a miss! For those of you willing to take a risk; the heart-stopping seven second freefall will come as welcome respite from Die Antwoods’ greatest hits.
If the other kind souls that helped me write this article had their way Fergburger would have taken the number one spot. In fairness I couldn’t justify to myself putting a burger restaurant at number on a list of the best things to do in the ‘extreme sports’ capital of the World.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Fergburger with all my heart, I’ll queue-up outside Fergburger for as long as it takes to get my hands on a ‘Big Al’. It’s probably the best burger restaurant in the whole wide World and that’s without considering Fergbaker next door! I’d probably kill somebody for a ‘Moroccan Lamb’ or ‘Pork Belly with Apple Sauce’ Pie…..I’m not proud to say it but I’d definitely consider manslaughter if I saw somebody walking off with the last Moroccan Lamb Ferg Pie clenched in their hand.
It’s fair to say that Fergburger is an institution. It’s without a doubt the single most popular restaurant in New Zealand and has to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Queenstown. 21 hours a day there is a constant queue of people lining the inside and outside of the restaurant and shouting their orders at the ever enthusiastic staff. If you get a job in this place there isn’t a man or woman in Queenstown that wouldn’t go on a date with you.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘there must be something in the water’…..well down in Queenstown the phrase has been changed to ‘there must be Ferg in the burger’.
We’ve all seen footage of Travis Rice and friends being taxied by Red Bull branded helicopters to the top of ridiculously steep Alaskan peaks. If you’re a die hard skier or snowboarder then Heli-skiing/boarding is probably the pinnacle of all your shred-related aspirations and dreams. Unfortunately there’s one small problem; hiring a helicopter and guide for the day isn’t cheap.
So unless you’re James Bond and you have MI6’s budget at your disposal the next best option is heading down to Queenstown where Heli-skiing is far more affordable than you’d expect. In fact, unless you‘re happy riding in the back of an ex soviet military helicopter Queenstown is one of the cheapest places to go heli-skiing in the World. Unbelievable terrain, untouched snow and the occasional maverick helicopter pilot mean you’ll have the time of your life. There’s definitely a reason why they filmed so much of ‘That’s It That’s All’ down here.
If you’re interested in the experience of a lifetime then go and have a chat to the guys and girls at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, they’re based at the Station building in the centre of Queenstown. On your course with Peak Leaders we can arrange the trip for you at a discounted price!