Queenstown is an alpine resort on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, in the South Island. Nestled among the southern peaks, the town’s horizon is dominated by the Remarkables mountain range. Your Queenstown Airport rental car is the ideal way to reveal the region’s natural wonders and clock up lots of exhilarating, adrenalin-pumping experiences.
There’s a deluge of snow and mountain pursuits, from skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe walking, to abseiling, rock climbing and mountaineering. Enjoy crazy canyoneering or the delights of heli-skiing on pristine powder. Get downright drippin’ with aqua action from jet boating to white-water rafting, sledging or even surfing. Kayaking, parasailing and fishing are also popular. Mid-air antics in Queenstown include scenic and aerobatic flights, helicopter flights and ballooning. Bungy jumping originated here and now canyon swinging complements it. Have a go at paragliding or hang gliding and skydiving, or whizz along through the treetops on zip lines.
If hurling yourself off a bridge or catapulting at speed down a snowy slope are not your thing, land-based activities range from to 4WD safaris or quad biking to dirt biking, mountain biking and cycling. Enjoy the peaceful pleasures of hiking, horse trekking and walking across ridges and along bush tracks.
Take the hassle out of choosing your day’s events with Queenstown Combos. They can advise what best suits your group based on ages, agility and time available. There’s also a range of softer exploits at Family Adventures. Make a beeline for Skyline Queenstown and admire the stunning scenery as you journey up Bob’s Peak in a ‘gondola’ cable-car bubble. Take a break at the hilltop café, go mountain-biking in the Queenstown Bike Park or walk through Ben Lomond’s forest trails, then zoom back down the hill in a thrilling luge ride.
The Kiwi Birdlife Park offers enchanting encounters with kiwis, tuataras and the cheeky kea parrot. Visit a colourful assortment of rural residential gardens and contemplate contemporary Maori art at Toi o Tahuna gallery. For a taste of yesteryear, chuff along on the Kingston Flyer steam train through breathtaking mountain landscapes, or gently cruise around the lake on the steamship TSS Earnslaw. Discover the district’s gold-mining history at Goldfields Mining Centre and learn more about the region in general through the informative displays at the intimate Lakes District Museum and Gallery in nearby Arrowtown.
After a full-on day, relax in the Onsen Hot Pools or pamper yourself at Aspects Day Spa before heading out to one of the thronging bars and clubs. Local favourite Fergburger is a must for a burger break – it’s massively popular, so expect queues. For stunning lake views and superb cuisine, head along to True South Dining Room or the excellent Wai on the waterfront. There’s plenty of accommodation on offer for all budgets, including many international hotel chains. Indulge in a stay at the charming Dairy Private Luxury Hotel, soak up panoramic views at the chic Pounamu Apartments or plump for friendly Adventure Queenstown Hostel and Chalet, considered the best hostel in town.
Explore more of the region by driving your Queenstown hire car 20 minutes north-east to historic Arrowtown for colonial charm, or up to the ski fields at Cadrona Alpine Resort and further on again to lakeside Wanaka, with its own scenic treats away from the crowds. Further east, the Otago wine trails beckon or head west to Fiordland’s lovely lakes and many majestic sites like iconic Milford Sound.