If you are heading to Queenstown, there’s a good chance that you are thinking about launching yourself from a bridge attached to a bungee cord or cruising down some white water rapids when you arrive. It is the extreme sport capital of New Zealand, after all. However, if you decide to take a break from the action, head out of the city to see some of the excellent attractions in the surrounding area, many of which are just a short drive away.
[Also see our travel article “Ten Cool Adventures for Thrill Seekers“]
Gibbston Valley Wines
If you want to make sure you try some of New Zealand’s famous wines during your holiday, a short drive out to Gibbston Valley Wines is an excellent option. Here you will find award-winning wines located in the Central Otago, only about 20 minutes from Queenstown on State Highway 6.
Enjoy some wine tasting sessions, take a tour of the wine cave, which is the largest in New Zealand, and learn about the wine-making process before relaxing in the excellent restaurant.
A day trip to this world-famous fjord is one of the absolute musts during your stay in Queenstown. Rental cars in Queenstown are easy to arrange, after which you can head out with ease and enjoy a fantastic drive.
The route takes you through the Fiordland National Park with its stunning scenery, and highlights include the Mirror Lakes, Eglinton Valley and Hollyford Valley. When you arrive at Milford Sound, you can head out onto the fjord on a boat cruise, where you will be able to see incredible bird and marine life.
Head north out of Queenstown and drive through the Kawarau River Gorge, home to the old gold mines, then on through the Mackenzie Basin to get to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Here you will be able to see the highest mountain in New Zealand, which stands 3,754 meters tall. The alpine setting is spectacular, and what better way to see it than on a helicopter ride? Alternatively, take a walk along a mountain trail to experience the best of the scenery up close.
Lakes District Museum
This museum is located in Arrowtown, a small gold mining town in the Wakatipu District, which is easy to reach from Queenstown. The museum puts on interesting exhibitions where you will be able to find out all about the gold rush of the 19th century, as well as the arrival of Europeans in the area.
Head up above Queensland on this gondola ride to see the amazing views of the city and the surrounding lake and mountains. There is a café at the top where you can take in the views, or you could go for a walk along one of the walking trails. There are even mountain biking trails if you’d prefer. If you don’t want to take the gondola, why not hike to the top instead?