New Zealand is world-famous for being Middle Earth (a role it will reprise with the upcoming Amazon TV series Lord Of The Rings), for its picturesque and pure landscapes and nature, for being one of the world's outdoor adventure capitals. One could say that outdoor adventure is in the blood of the local Kiwis (the colloquial name for New Zealanders). The country is bursting with just about every type of adventure sport imaginable and Queenstown in the South Island is the capital of it all.


About Queenstown

Queenstown is not very large, it is a stunning lakeside alpine resort town and perhaps the greatest must-see destination of the whole country. The town is crammed with the shores of the picturesque Lake Wakatipu in front of it and mountains rising steeply behind it. Like most South Island lakes, Lake Wakatipu fills the carved-out valley of an extinct glacier. South Island lakes are formed by the dam left behind by these glaciers. In the North Island, the lakes are often round as they are calderas of collapsed volcanoes.

  • Population: 16,000
  • Status: Alpine Resort Town

Queenstown is surrounded on all sides by extremely rugged mountains. These include The Remarkables (this range is jaw-droppingly and remarkably jagged - that is how they got their name), Walter Peak, Ben Lomond, Cecil Peak, Queenstown Hill.

  • Fun Fact: Queenstown Is Named In Honor Of Queen Victoria

If a traveler only has three days, then that is enough to pack some things in, but one just can't do everything here in that sort of short time. Also, this is the ski capital of all of Oceania - but we will assume a summer visit and so no skiing.

  • Time To Visit: Summer Is Always The Best Time To Visit New Zealand - Unless Specifically Planning For Skiing

Day One

Perhaps the tourist would like to scout out the area and chill a little before indulging in the adventure sports for which Queenstown is famous. In that case, in addition to walking around the town and the waterfront, one should drive to Arrowtown. This is a stunning and quaint little town dating from the gold rush that struck this part of New Zealand in the times of the Gold Rushes (it's New Zealand's Wild West so to say). Today this town is favored by locals and many international tourists in their haste skip over it. Arrowtown is particularly stunning in the autumn with its famous gold leaves.

Related: New Zealand Holiday Guide, The North Island: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation

  • Tip: Arrowtown Is A Favored Destination With The Locals (Autumn Is Best)

Also in this region is some of the world's southernmost wineries. These are definitely worth a visit and they are sure to be some of the most stunning wineries one will ever see. Nestled under rugged mountains and gazing out to yet more ranges, ravines and gorges.

Continue up the road a little more and one will arrive a Cromwell. This is famous for its delicious fresh fruit. It is also the farthest place on the island from the coast as well as New Zealand's driest location.

Day Two

On day two let the adrenaline rush begin! There are so many extreme activities, but let's limit this day to white water rafting on the famous Shotover River. The rivers in New Zealand are cascading and fairly small. One must be constantly navigating and fending off from the rocks. This will be a great half-day excursion. Another option is to go jetboating on the Shotover River.

  • White Water Rafting: $150.00 (Depending On Season)

After this exhausting adventure, most people are too tired to do much else. So a leisurely trip up the gondola or cable car to the stunning restaurant overlooking the lake and town would seal the day.

Related: New Zealand Holiday Guide, The South Island: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation

Day Three

Here one can choose between bungy jumping into the gorge with its raging river straight out of Lord Of the Rings (one of the very first bungy jumping sites in the whole world), and the famous Nevis swing. This is no ordinary swing but a monster swing - swinging clean across the canyon. On playground swings, one just well swings, on this swing one falls, and drops, and plummets down before one is picked up by the tort rope and swung across the canyon - until one losses momentum and starts to plummet down yet again. This swing is the definition of an adrenaline rush.

  • Tip: There Are Many Lord Of The Rings Filming Location Tours From Queenstown
  • Cost Of Bungy Jumping: $140.00 (Seasonal Price May Vary)
  • Cost Of Nevis Swing: $150.00 (Depending On Season - Discounted During Covid)

This is only the tip of the iceberg with things to do in Queenstown, cruises, hiking, horseriding, scenic flights, skiing, skydiving, paragliding, and the list goes on!

Next: Hobbiton Is On New Zealand's North Island, And This Is Everything You Need To Know Before You Go