Flights to Queenstown: Thrills, spills and sassy pinots
Queenstown is an adrenaline junkies' paradise. Crashing mountain rivers promise white-water thrills. Try jumping off a paragliding cliff for heart-in-mouth views of glacier-gouged lakes and the jagged 'Remarkables' mountains. Prefer getting your kicks on terra firmish? Queenstown has two powder-tastic ski-fields: Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. Celebrate your survival by diving into this small town’s equally 'remarkable' apres-ski scene.
AJ Hackett pioneered bungy jumping in Queenstown in the 1980s. Follow in his deranged footsteps by flinging yourself from Kawarau Bridge with only a piece of elastic to save you. Don’t be the only one screaming – jump naked and turn your leap into a real spectator sport. A Queenstown holiday isn’t complete without a white-knuckle ride jet-boating the canyons of Shotover River and screaming as sheer rocky bluffs fly at you faster than you can click your camera.
Back to nature
Remember to pack your hiking boots on your flight to Queenstown. You'll need them. Fiordland National Park covers 1.2 million hectares of dramatic natural landscape. Sheer-sided fiords, granite mountains and 500-metre-high waterfalls drop straight into the sea. Day walks or multi-day hikes will wear holes in your soles. Get over it. Memories of alpine passes scaled and ancient rainforests tramped will endure long after your blisters have healed.
Eat and drink
Quirky restaurants abound in the cobbled lanes of Queenstown. Open the solid wood doors of a historic stone cottage or old ski workshop to the blast of roaring log fires and live music. Cellars groan with spicy pinot noirs from the famous Central Otago wine region. Sample every ethnicity of food from French cuisine to curry in a hurry. Finish with a sunset gelato by the lake as the vintage TSS Earnslaw steamship chugs into the bay.
Where? Queenstown lies in the heart of the South Island's Southern Lakes region, a land dotted with ski-fields, golf courses and wineries.
Population: Home to 14,000 residents, Queenstown’s lodgings burst at the seams with 1.2 million adrenaline-seeking visitors every year.
Key dates: Following the discovery of gold in the Arrow River in 1862, Queenstown flourished from a scruffy village of prospectors' tents into a town deemed 'fit for a Queen'.
Did you know? Maori believe the mysterious 12cm rise and fall of Lake Wakatipu every five minutes is caused by the beating heart of the giant Matau, whose sleeping body forms the S-shaped lake.
Splash out on lakeside luxury at heritage hotels with lake views so close you could skim a stone from your window. Fancy nine holes before breakfast? Swing from your bed to a bunker at one of Queenstown’s exclusive resorts.
Our restaurant picks serve you foodie feasts. Expect regional fare of venison fresh from the local hills, salmon scooped from mountain rivers and seasonal delicacies of whitebait and southern Bluff oysters literally worth their weight in gold.
Shopping in Queenstown
Quirky kiwiana kitsch, contemporary Maori art or Middle Earth memorabilia – shopping ranges from tasteful to tacky in cosmopolitan Queenstown. Get kitted for outdoor adventure or sport local fashions from Queenstown designers.
This mountain town rocks! From thumping club turntables to sophisticated cocktails and roulette wheels, nightlife here is vibrant and metropolitan. When your feet get too tired to party, sink into sofas at the silk-swathed boutique cinema in nearby Arrowtown.
Toast Queenstown's finest landscapes on a Central Otago vineyard tour. Explore narrow gorges, twisting valley roads and hidden wine caves. Top off the experience with an aromatic pinot gris or fruity pinot noir matched with hand-crafted local cheeses.