It only took a few days of living in the land ‘fit for a Queen’ (Victoria, of course) to realize what all the fuss is about. Surrounded by captivating mountains that provide killer views over crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the majestic scenery of this tiny town definitely lives up to its royal name.
Helped by the fact that it is home to an international airport, the ‘city’ of Queenstown is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand, and the perfect place to start any South Island escapade. As a matter of fact, it’s known to be the ‘Adventure Capital’ of New Zealand… which is known as one of the most adventure-filled countries on earth … you do the math… then decide how far you’re willing to push your limits in the town that knows no bounds!
I flew into Queenstown with high expectations, ready to have my adrenaline-loving world rocked. “I want to really jump outside of my comfort zone while I’m here”… I told Bryan. What’s the best way to achieve such an outcome? Lucky for me, the possibilities are endless! There’s sky diving, jet boating, white water rafting, canyoneering, paragliding and bungie jumping for anyone looking for heart-stopping activities. There are also more relaxing ways to bask in Queenstown’s beauty: like hiking, fishing, wine tastings, spa treatments and gondola rides. This quintessential mountain town has skiing in the winter and music festivals in the summer. The streets are always buzzing and filled with the aroma of mouthwatering burgers from the famous Fergburger – the best in town!
We found a perfect balance between thrilling and soothing experiences, making the elegant Hotel St. Mortiz our ‘home’. The property is the perfect place to relax and unwind, calming nerves at the end of exhilarating days. The hotel has an unparalleled location, with vistas overlooking the expansive lake, while only walking distance from the city’s center.
Our suite was surprisingly large, decorated with unique works of art and comforting décor, the atmosphere reminiscent of a serene, alpine lodge. We enjoyed watching sunsets over the lake from our bedroom window, and truly loved taking advantage of the hotel’s award winning restaurant, Lombardi.
There is endless beauty to experience in Queenstown, and an overload of adventurous activities. While options are limitless, there are a few things you simply cannot miss. For starters, the most epic view in all the land lies atop Bob’s Peak, accessible via the Skyline Gondola. Here you can grab a drink in the lounge, or I would recommend you stay a while and enjoy the breathtaking panoramas over lunch.
Though we didn’t have high expectations for the buffet style meal (who does when the word ‘buffet’ is used), we discovered that a quality buffet is possible and can be quite a treat! We enjoyed fresh sushi, grilled fish, roast beef, salads with all the accouterments, and an overwhelming number of sides. After a wonderful lunch, we were even more excited by the endless sweets made available! Delightful crème brulee and Hokey Pokey ice cream (a local favorite consisting of vanilla with bits of honeycomb) were the real stars.
The highlight of my time in Queenstown was also the biggest rush of my life. If you have to pick one adrenaline pumping activity, I urge you to jump off a bridge!!
Queenstown is the ‘World Home of Bungy Jumping’ (note: this is how Kiwi’s spell bungee, and since they supposedly invented it, I will give them the benefit of the doubt on spelling 😉 ). Over 25 years ago, a daredevil named AJ Hackett experimented with extreme activities by jumping off bridges and testing out different rubber harnesses. The man was insanely genius, launching the first commercial bungy at the Karawau Bridge. There are now 15 ‘Hackett sites’ around the world, some of which are much more extreme, but it’d be a shame to visit Queenstown without a taste of the original.
The landscape surrounding the bridge is a stunning site all its own, but the rush of a 43 meter jump has no comparison to sightseeing.
Queenstown certainly caters to adventure-lovers and thrill-seekers of all levels, but it’s also a relaxing little gem with beauty that everyone can enjoy. That said, there’s no better place on earth to push your limits.
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Elliott.