Queenstown in 2-3 days
Start the morning with a super-strong espresso from one of the cafes around town. Afterwards wander down the lakefront and take a stroll along the shingle beach. Afterwards, take a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, kick back and take in the simply stunning backdrop.
It’s time to get the adrenaline levels up – but too much. Behind town is the Skyline Gondola which hoists you up 450m along a 790m rope, to a stunning viewing platform and restaurant. Stop off for a bite to eat at the top before climbing into a cart and luging down an 800m track to the bottom.
Okay, so you’ve already upped the adrenaline tempo – today you blow it off the dial. Head straight for Kawarau Bungy Bridge (see Highlights) and step off into the unknown. If that’s too easy, Try gorge swinging – a slightly more exhilarating version of bungy. Next, strap yourself into a jet boat www.shotoverjet.com and hurtle down the narrow canyons of Shotover River, dodging boulders while doing 360 degree turns.
In one week
Start with the 2-3 day itinerary.
Time to give the heart a rest and head to Arrowtown (see Highlights), on the outskirts of Queenstown, for a historical journey back to the mid-1800s, when the area enjoyed a gold boom. Pan for gold and, perhaps, strike it rich.
If the snow is on then head for the hills. The area boasts some of the top ski fields and facilities in the country (see Highlights). Ski fields around Queenstown are easy to access and equipment hire stores can be found on almost every street corner in town. If you’ve never touched the white stuff, not to worry. Ski schools and instructors will show you the ropes before letting you loose on the slopes.
Queenstown’s little brother Wanaka, 120km, away is quickly becoming a favoured destination for those wanting snowy peaks set against a lakeside town. The drive between the two towns is sensational. Take time to stop off and perhaps even stay at the famous Cardrona Hotel www.cardronahotel.co.nz, and who knows, you may even bump into the resident ghost.
Time to hit the West Coast and its lush rainforests and rugged beaches. The 262km drive from Queenstown to Haast, has some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Once at Hasst Junction, take a left and head down to off the beaten track Jackson Bay where you can see fur seals and penguins. Once a bustling port, Jackson Bay is now home to a few holiday homes, a pie cart. Spend a few hours walking along the beach looking for greenstone, a precious stone that Kiwis love to wear around their necks.