Adventure Capital of the World. A mighty title for a small town nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu but one that has been well earned. Upon arrival adventure seekers soon discover that whether you’re into high adrenaline-pumping activities like bungy jumping, skydiving, jet boating, whitewater rafting, paraponting, and rally driving, or prefer milder forms of adventure entertainment such as luging, ballooning, four wheel driving, mountain biking or horse trekking, Queenstown offers something for everyone!
If your pulse quickens at the thought of throwing yourself off a bridge or platform high above the ground attached only by a single rubber band, then you’ll be astounded by the range of bungy options that are on offer in Queenstown.
There’s the 43-metre Kawerau Suspension Bridge bungy, where spectators look on from A. J. Hackett’s Bungy Centre which melds into the rock walls of the canyon; the 47-metre Ledge perched high on Bob’s Peak, 400- metres above Queenstown and offering stunning views; the staggering 134-metre Nevis Highwire Bungy, New Zealand’s highest bungy; and the equally thrilling Nevis Swing (the world’s biggest swing).
In the canyons beneath the Edith Cavell Bridge an adventure activity of a different ilk takes place on the Shotover Jet, where expert drivers put these famous ‘Big Red’ jet boats through their paces, twisting through narrow canyons, skimming past rocky outcrops and completing full 360-degree turns while spectators look on in wide-eyed wonder!
The rugged beauty and unspoiled grandeur of the upper reaches of the Shotover River also provide the setting for extreme whitewater rafting excitement; while the slightly tamer Kawarau River provides an exhilarating ride and a great introduction to whitewater rafting for first time rafters.
There are four rapids to negotiate including the final (and unforgettable) 400-metre Dog Leg rapid, and Kawerau rafters will gain an unusual perspective of bungy jumpers plummeting from the Kawerau Suspension Bridge.
Others hit the sky to ‘feel the fear but do it anyway’ stepping out into thin air on a tandem skydive. At 4,500 metres, travelling towards the ground at a staggering 200 kph, total sensory overload is reached and it makes little difference that you’re harnessed to an experienced, qualified Jumpmaster and using state of the art safety equipment!
Ballooners, hang gliders and paraponters also fill the skies above Queenstown, and helicopters zoom back and forth transporting visitors to nearby Lord of the Rings filming locations. Others explore the historic Skippers Canyon on exciting four wheel drive tours that snake along a treacherously narrow trail with deep vertical drops to the vivid ice-blue Shotover River. There’s the option then to raft the river or mountain-bike the 1860s pack track, once the only route into this isolated region.
Four wheel drive tours are also provided on a rugged route up the Arrow River, where several deep river crossings are negotiated en route to Macetown, a ghost town where hundreds of miners once flocked when alluvial gold was discovered in the Arrow River in 1862.
Explore the Cardrona Valley on a quad bike tour at Criffel Peak Safaris or on horseback at Backcountry Saddle Expeditions, where treks range from two hours to a full day. Walter Peak High Country Farm on the far side of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu also provides horse treks; to get there you must board the TSS Earnslaw, an old, coal-fired, twin-screw steamer, one of Queenstown’s oldest attractions and known fondly by the locals as ‘The Lady of the Lake’.
Another Queenstown favourite is the Skyline Gondola, which ascends to the top of Bob’s Peak where a beautiful panorama awaits. There’s plenty of action here too: a chair lift provides access to the top of the 800-metre-long luge, where punters race down on purpose-built carts; or you can plummet to earth from the Ledge Bungy, take off on a tandem paraponting flight, or hike the Ben Lomond Track.
Queenstown Combos provide a convenient and value-packed way to experience many of the adventure activities on offer in Queenstown and can be purchased at information centres.
And for all your car rental needs, contact either Apex Car Rentals Queenstown Airport or Apex Car Rentals Queenstown City located on Shotover Street in central Queenstown.