Queenstown is a must-visit for adrenaline junkies and those who like to get their heart racing on holiday. With a host of new activities for scaring yourself silly and some excellent long-standing favourites like jetboating, this guide highlights some of Queenstown’s best adrenaline activities. The last time I visited Queenstown was in 2008 during the GFC and to say this town was hit hard would be an understatement, with more “For Lease” signs on windows than open shops. Even the sunshine and fresh air couldn’t move the cloud of doom that had descended on this picture perfect town.
Fast forward ten years and I’m watching a new convertible Bentley coasting down Shotover Street with a stately gentleman smiling from the driver’s seat with ‘Good Times’ by INXS playing on the rather lovely sounding car stereo. Business is booming and life is good in Queenstown again. People come here to ‘feel alive’ and it’s not just the clean air and sometimes sub-zero temperatures that make you feel that way. Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of the world with more options to get the heart racing than an 18-year-old let loose with their parent’s platinum credit card.
I kick things off with a trip up Bob’s Peak which is a 5-minute cable car ride from town. When you arrive at the top at the Skyline Queenstown centre, it is time to start making some decisions. That’s after you have checked out the incredible view from the wrap around lookout, of course. This is the place to take in the amazing scenery that includes Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.
You could get your heart beating a bit faster with the luge, a downhill cart ride that is a lot of fun for all ages. To make the most of this activity you should get a 5 ride pack. This way you do one practice run on the easy track (this is mandatory for every rider, even if you’ve been luging loads of times before) then you can go faster and faster each time on the faster track until you are zooming along at the speed of light on the final run. A chairlift trip to the start of the track is included with each luge ride.
Then it’s off to the zipline above the forest or, if you’re a bit more adventures, a running jump off the edge of Bob’s Peak. It’s such a beautiful day that I’m seriously considering the running jump and make a beeline for the G Force Paragliding hut. Waiting there is a good looking gray-headed gent ready for his next victim. Did I say that out loud? Of course, I meant passenger. “Do you have room for 110 kilos of midlife crisis?” I ask.
Pondering my question, he laughs and tells me that 110 kilos is fine sometimes, but it’s too heavy for today’s less windy conditions. “No worries.” I say. “I’ll go throw myself off a zipline instead”. I’m only half joking as I do have a zipline booking at Ziptrek with a 20-metre jump at the end. And, yes, after experiencing a springy drop of 20 meters off the zip line platform on the new Kereru zipline course, I do certainly ‘feel alive’!
So what other activities are available for the active adventurer? There is, of course, the AJ Hackett Bungy which includes some high adrenaline drops and swings located around Queenstown. Whitewater rafting is also available year round for those wanting to wake up fast with a splash of chilled water in the face and, of course, there are the iconic Queenstown jet boats.
Jet boating is a big draw card for visitors of all ages with no fewer than five jet boat companies vying for Queenstown’s tourist dollar. Choosing the right jet boat adventure is all about what you want. You could enjoy the thrilling tight canyons of the Shotover River on the Shotover Jet or the more sedate waters of the Dart River plus a few other beautiful places around Central Otago that are guaranteed to have a smile on your face (and a load in your pants if you scare easily).
One trick with the jet boats is to shop around and haggle at Queenstown’s central pier, especially if it’s at a slow time of day, like early morning, midday and late evening. These are all good times to ask for a discount, particularly if there are several of you who are thinking of jet boating. Because, if you manage to save a few dollars on that jet boating trip, you will hopefully have enough money left over to scare yourself silly on another adrenaline activity before you head home.
Disclosure: The writer has visited Queenstown on holiday and as a guest of Destination Queenstown. He loves adventure activities and always brings a clean pair of underpants, just in case.
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