48 hours in Queenstown
It's called the adventure capital of the world for a reason. In Queenstown you can take your pick of skydiving, canyon swinging, jetboating, white water rafting, horse trekking, and, of course, bungy jumping. Come winter time the slopes are full of skiers and backpackers flood in to spend their winter working in the buzzing town.
Queenstown was originally a 40,000 acre (approximately) sheep station owned by William Rees before gold was discovered by his shepherds in the Shotover River. He turned his woolshed into a hotel as more people began to hear about the goldrush and arrived to stake their claim.
Today the compact little town centre is tastefully laid out with cafes, restaurants, tour operator shops and country clothing labels including Kathmandu and Country Road. The streets all lead down towards the magnificent Wakatipu Lake which has a depth of 380m and a cool temperature of 11degrees.
Using the CamperMate app on my phone we searched for nearby campsites to the centre and soon arrived at Queentown Lakeview Holiday Park paying $55 for two people using a powered site. The park included all the necessary amenities, good facilities and was a five minute walk to the centre.
On our first day exploring, the sun was shining for the first time in a few days and we wanted to take advantage of the clear weather. To get our bearings we took a ride on the gondola up Bob's Peak mountain (costing $33pp return) taking us 2,500ft above sea level. We were greeted with spectacular views that left us speechless - so we just stood for a while taking some pictures instead! The snow covered peaks of The Remarkables made up the backdrop to the blue Wakatipu lake and clusters of subarbs and forest below. Together the sight was beautiful. Once at the top you can start a four-hour walk around the mountain, ride the luge or indulge in a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows like my boyfriend and I did. We then decided to walk back down taking the access road with the view across the lake for a more leisurely retreat. The walk down took just under one hour.
When the evening chill began to draw in we headed to Pub on Wharf for a good hearty meal and a few pints sitting next to a roaring gas fire. This was followed by a few more drinks at World Bar where you can catch a live band or DJs.
After a good night's sleep we wanted to experience the adventurous spirit of Queenstown and booked ourselves onto the 'Skipper Canyon' jetboat thrill ride. The trip cost $136pp and began with a nerve-wracking 1.5 hour drive around the 10th most dangerous road the 'skipper canyon track' winding our way around tight bends and across cliffs with no barriers in sight. Once off the bus and standing on the peaceful bay inside the canyon we geared ourselves with waterproof clothing and met the skipper Kev and Jetson the dog before boarding the boat. We sped along the Shotover River through the canyon at speeds of up to 90km narrowly dodging the canyon walls, giant rocks, icicles and Gollum himself*.
Once back in town, what better way to warm up than by testing the famous Fergburger? We joined the queue outside the burger shack and as something of a hamburger connoisseur l can only agee the reputation is warranted!
With beautiful views, delicious food and adventure activities on tap - make sure you've seen Queenstown!
*Unfortunately the Gollum part may be made up!