Planning to spend a weekend in New Zealand’s most adventure-filled city? From hiking to bungee jumping to chilling out at the ice bars, this schedule highlights Queenstown’s “best of the best.” As a blend of nightlife, nature, good food, and plenty to do for the adrenaline junkies, Queenstown has it all. This picturesque city sits on a lakeside and is surrounded by mountains; definitely a must see on your travels through the South Island.
New Zealand is largely known as the “adventure capital of the world” and Queenstown is a hub for everything exciting and adventurous. When you arrive on Friday, check out some of the local spots on the downtown strip, and chat with friends about which adrenaline-gripping activity or scenic hike to take on over the weekend. First off, let’s talk about lodging. For planning my trip, I relied on the New Zealand guide by “Lonely Planet” and stuck to the hostels. There’s no shortage of resorts and lodges in Queenstown, but I find that most people (especially students) want to stick to the cheapest accommodations available. There’s a variety of options in Queenstown, including a few YHA’s and smaller, more unique options. The one we stayed at even offers free soup. When you get to your hostel on Friday night, start planning your trip in a common area. Common rooms in hostels are great places to meet people from all over the world. Grab some food and get to cooking in the communal kitchen. You never know who you’ll meet.
Speaking of the downtown, the main area of Queenstown is full of shops, restaurants, and hubs for various day trips that leave from the city. One of my personal favorite parts of travel, the food, is plentiful and so amazing! Grab your Saturday breakfast at a local restaurant, and watch the hustle and bustle of downtown Queenstown as you enjoy a delicious meal. Everyone I know that took trips to Queenstown had different recommendations of places to try and none of them were ever disappointing. My highlight, the best of the best, was “Fergburger.” Mouth-watering giant burgers that are so popular, the line goes out the door and the tables are always full. This is a hot spot for lunch and dinner, and never disappoints. I recommend picking one up after a long afternoon of hiking or a trip to the slopes because it’s so satisfying. Basically the “best-thing-you-can-remember-eating” satisfying.
There’s way more to do in Queenstown than one blog post can cover, but let’s talk about the most important part: extreme activities! Saturday is the perfect day to take on a new adventure in this exciting city. Not only can you bungee jump up in the trees at the overlook, but AJ Hackett is based in Queenstown and is one of the most famous companies that run jumps.
If you don’t fancy the jump itself, you can also try their canyon swing or Nevis arc. There’s also skydiving, jetboating, white water rafting, and of course, Lord of the Rings tours. We took an awesome day trip with Dart Stables that picked the group up in Queenstown and drove us out to an area literally called Paradise. Not only did we see some amazing locations from the films, but we saw them on horseback. For food options, there’s also “Winnie’s,” a gourmet pizza bar and “Patagonia,” which serves up some pretty great ice cream. In addition, there are countless bars (note: ice bars!) and other restaurant options for all different tastes. Although I always start a trip with the honorable intention of eating healthy, I’m terrible at saying no to some good food. Which also leads me to recommend getting a fresh baked cookie from “Cookie Time.”
Looking for something to burn off all those delicious calories from yesterday? Queenstown has you covered. Right next to the downtown area is a gorgeous hike up to the Ben Lomond Summit. At an altitude of 1748, it took my friends and I about 7 hours to hike up to the summit and back down. Granted we did our fair share of stopping for photos (the trail leads up above to the mountains overlooking the lake, Queenstown, and the mountain ranges all around), had a few food breaks, and made friends along the way! I will also admit I was not at my… best physical condition at that point either.
There are also shorter options if that sort of hiking sounds way too daunting of a task. Various trails wind their way up to an outlook viewing area and restaurant where you can bungee jump, zip line, or luge. There’s even a gondola that can take you up and down! If you can, though, I highly recommend at least venturing onto the summit track because even just hiking part way has some stunning views.
So whether you favor food, hiking, or are looking for some thrills, Queenstown is your place. It’s also well known as a hub for winter sports with amazing skiing up in the mountains around the lake and the winter games for snow sports fanatics. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Queenstown! I sure did.