Welcome to the “Adventure Capital of the World”! Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island, is a city of just 13,150 people but home of the tallest bungee (spelled bungy in NZ) in New Zealand and a long list of other thrill-inducing activities. So what are some of the best heart-racing, jaw-dropping activities you can expect to see? We reached out to some of our local Kiwi staff and jet-setting TEAN staff members to give us the lowdown.

1. Jet Boating

Dart river jet boating
Jet boating on the Dart River. Photo courtesy of Ngai Tahu Tourism

A tourist and New Zealander favourite, jet boating takes passengers through the Queenstown canyons. Although they are now used all over the world, jet boats were originally designed for use in New Zealand to be able to travel through the shallow waters without damaging the propellers of a regular boat. The boat itself only needs a few centimeters of water to run, and takes passengers on daring twists and turns in the canyon. “It could reach about 50mph and the driver intentionally drives into the directions of rocks and just at the last second will move slightly so that it just misses the side. 360-degree turns were also on the agenda”, says Kaylie Adams, TEAN New Zealand Program Manager.

TEAN New Zealand Resident Assistant Sam Davis suggests “leaving lunch until after the jetboating” while resident staff Alice and On Lee both recommend starting your jet boating day up the Dart River in a magical place called Glenorchy, where the scenes of Isengard from Lord of the Rings were filmed.

2. Hiking Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond track, Queenstown
Ben Lomond track. Photo by Alice Milne, TEAN Resident Assistant

Named after a similar peak in Scotland, Ben Lomond is an iconic and popular hike in Queenstown. Known for its impressive panoramic views of Queenstown, this hike can take up to 5-6 hours. Don’t be intimidated though, Resident Assistant and South Island native Alice Milne did Ben Lomond as her first hike at just six years old!

3. Skyline Luge

Once you make the trek, or catch the famous gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, you’ll find a plethora of adventure activities. A popular favorite is the luge. Sam describes it as “A little kart that you ride down a hill track. Steering, brakes and gravity does the rest. A real thrill!” Marketing Director Lauren Gabell recommends racing your friends down the track as a fun way to finish your time at the Skyline.

4. Bungee (Bungy) Jumping

Photo by: Brian Trainor, University of Maryland, College Park
Ledge Bungy, Queenstown. Photo by Brian Trainor, University of Maryland, College Park

Queenstown wouldn’t be the Adventure Capital of the World without being home to several bungee jumping locations, including one of the largest bungee jumps on Earth. Nevis Bungy, the largest in New Zealand at 134 meters (about 440 feet) is the most famous. Kaylie also recommends, “For a smaller scale experience, there’s ‘The Ledge’ version which is what I did and not as scary!”

5. New Zealand’s Biggest Swing

Rachel Fenton, TEAN NZ Resident Director, recommends “The Swing” at Nevis, an extreme sport NZ is famous for, where you can go solo or tandem and swing across the canyon of the Nevis River Valley. If the idea of bouncing around at the end of a bungee jump is unpleasant to you, the swing may be a better alternative. After your short free fall, the swing will fling you out and back across the canyon.

Of course, if you’re in New Zealand during the winter, skiing and snowboarding is a must do. With slopes as close as a 22-minute ride from the city center, it’s easy to pop out of bed and head up for a full day of powdery white peaks.

Whether you’re studying abroad in New Zealand, visiting for our South Island Adventure Excursion, or are just a regular jet setter, Queenstown is a necessary stop to satisfy your adrenaline cravings.