Queenstown, New Zealand: A Guide While Road Tripping

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown really is a town like no other. Visiting this place feels like entering the set of a fairytale. The backdrop for scene after scene of Lord of the Rings and other blockbusters, it’s easy to see why this place is popular amongst tourists and movie producers alike.

Dramatic, rugged, snow-sprinkled mountains tower above the town, encasing this magical little place in grandeur. A turquoise lake forms the sparkling centerpiece, complemented by lines of trees, splashing bright autumn tones into a peaceful color palette. The town itself is unobtrusive, humble, and oh-so-quaint. Cozy cafés lure you in from every corner, boutique shops and independent eateries constantly bustle with streams of visitors.

Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Not to mention the unique buzz of Queenstown at night- bars and clubs aplenty, this place certainly doesn’t quiet down once the sun sets. If you are looking for a place to start your night, the Ice Bar is just about the coolest place you can go. Literally. The bar is made of ice. The seats are made of ice. Yes, even your glass is made of ice. Plus, you get cute jackets on arrival so you can feel like a real Eskimo.

But let’s be honest, Queenstown isn’t one of the most popular tourist destination merely for it’s quaintness or its cool bars. Adventure capital of the world, the smorgasbord of activities you can do in this place is literally endless. It is an absolute haven for adrenaline junkies, particularly those with an endless cash flow and unlimited amounts of time! With only two full days in Queenstown, I had to narrow it down to two activities I was most dying to do- one to gratify my visual senses and one to satisfy my adrenaline munchies

On our first day in Queenstown, we set off in a shuttle to the township of Glenorchy and made our way to Dart Stables. The idea of riding through the jaw-dropping scenery of Lord of the Rings on horseback was simply too magical to resist. So we set off, weaving through the township in horsey convey till we reached the enchanting plains of Middle Earth. The next two hours were spent trotting over endless fields and splashing through river crossings, bewitched by the view of the sun peeking through the famous Misty Mountains.

Queenstown, New Zealand

After a day spent in Queenstown, it quickly entered my list of favorite places in the world. So you can imagine my elation when I got to spend the next day, my twentieth birthday, in this dreamy wonderland.

We started the morning bright and early for the single most anticipated moment of my trip… My very first bungy jump! A self-confessed adrenaline addict, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my twentieth year of life then jumping off a bridge. That doesn’t sound so great when you read it back.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Nevertheless, I was utterly restless with excitement as we boarded the bus and made our way to the home of the very first commercial bungy operation, Kawarau Bridge. Butterflies of excitement pulsed through my body as they strapped my ankles and I penguin-waddled to the edge of the platform. The single second of looking down at 43 meters of free fall and a flowing river beneath me was the most terrifyingly exciting moment of my life. Without another moment of hesitation, I plunged from the platform and experienced the most surreal flash of weightlessness and invincibility. Then, before I could blink, the rope caught slack and flung me around, as my body relaxed to jelly and I began to swallow the amazing view around me, shouting out at the top of my lungs “BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”

Truly it was. A moment of panic set in as whilst I hung upside-down over a rushing river, I had no recollection of what happened now and how I got back to land. Thankfully, it only took a second for a little rowboat to enter my view as I awkwardly lowered myself on board, still sky-high with adrenaline. Yep, it’s safe to say flinging myself off a bridge was the single best experience of my life, and my adrenaline munchies have been adequately satisfied (for now).

Queenstown, New Zealand

My afternoon was spent in a slightly more sedate setting. We rode the Gondola up the mountain to the Queenstown Skyline, and what a view we were greeted by. As if seeing Queenstown from down at street level wasn’t magnificent enough… This Birdseye view showcased the town, Lake Waktipu, and the Remarkables mountain range in all of its shining glory.

Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

We spent hours just sitting and watching parasails soaring through the sky, as the sun descended down the horizon and painted the sky with colour. Slowly, as the colour began fading away, and the sparkling lights of Queenstown flickered on, followed closely behind by a night sky full of twinkling stars. It wasn’t until the cold became unbearable that we tore our eyes away from this enchanting view and made our descent back down the mountain.

I think Queenstown is best summarized in the words of a cheap souvenir t-shirt:

“Once upon a time I visited a far far away land that had Ginormous Mountains, a cold as lake, and an old as steamboat. You’ll never believe this place. In this land there are lots of crazy people doing crazy things. They jump off bridges tied to elastic bands, drive fast boats with jets, fly off mountains, eat huge burgers, drink out of teapots, ride glass boxes to the sky, slide down mountains, on wooden planks and the people are names after fruit. It’s such a crazy land. You’ll never believe it.

It’s true, Queenstown is one crazy dreamland. So remind me why I had to wake up from the dream? I wouldn’t mine staying in this one forever.

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What to do in Queenstown on a New Zealand road trip
Nicola Easterby Bio Image

HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. In fact, I’ve visited 54 countries and cooked 196 cuisines in this very pursuit. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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