7 adventure experiences in Queenstown you can't miss
For adventure and a wild ride, these Queenstown adventure activities offer a buzz factor you’ll never forget.
- May 2018
Queenstown is king when it comes to the adrenaline-fuelled holiday, not only for its sheer variety of hair-raising, blood-pumping activities, but also for its eye-popping mountain scenery. How high, how hard and how fast is totally up to you, but here’s our suggestions for seven ways to test your limits, starting with an entry-level buzz and working up to maximum thrills.
Hidden within a pine forest at the top of the Skyline Gondola, Ziptrek’s super-sized adventure playground comprises high-wire zip-lines strung between a series of treehouses. Harnessed and helmeted, you will be clipped on to the wires for a speedy flight through the forest canopy – forwards, backwards, and even upside down – screeching to a halt at each platform where eco-focused commentary is provided. The four-line “Moa” tour progresses to a 240-metre line on which you may reach a speed of 50km/h. For the ultimate zipline rush, opt for the six-line “Kea” featuring the world’s steepest drop, a 300-metre descent equivalent to 30 storeys at speeds of up to 70 km/h.
Where: 45 Camp St opens in new window (booking office)
Skill level: All abilities.
Riding a raging torrent through a rocky canyon, aboard a rubber raft alongside a bunch of rank amateurs with just one guide in charge? Yep. This is one team sport you’ll want to get pro at, pronto. Fear is all part of the fun. Robust boats, bouncy rapids and expert instruction provide all you need for a Man Vs. Wild-style epic journey down the Shotover River, complete with brutal walls, frigid waters, and aptly named maelstroms such as “Pinball” and “Jaws”. The grand finale is a tumble through an eerie old miners’ tunnel, before you and your new best friends are spat out through Cascade Rapid.
Where: Queenstown Rafting opens in new window
Skill level: Moderate fitness and water confidence.
Minimum age: 13 years.
Buzz factor: Wet‘n’wild, with a touch of terror.
Queenstown puts some serious mountains into mountain biking with epic downhill tracks, many of which can only be reached by helicopter or 4WD. Happily, mere mortals can get in on the action at Queenstown Bike Park, more than 30 kilometres of purpose-built downhill trails on the forested slopes of Ben Lomond. Hire bikes at the bottom, hitch a lift on the Skyline Gondola, then barrel down Hammy’s Track (a flowing cruise with few surprises) and work up to the double-black-diamond rock fest of Slippery Ninja.
Where: Skyline Mountain Bike Park opens in new window
Skill level: Average to expert MTB experience.
Buzz factor: As hard and fast as you push it.
For a gentle introduction to Queenstown’s action-packed activities, ride the Skyline Gondola up Bob’s Peak to the luge depot. That’s where the calm part ends. Clamber on to a pint-sized, three-wheeled go-kart, powered only by gravity, but boasting good brakes, and take your pick of two 800-metre tracks sweeping down the top part of the peak. You will return for multiple repeat journeys via a chairlift because once is never enough. Progressively perfect your corners or go head-to-head with a buddy, grand-prix style, but be warned – the luge is dangerously competitive, highly addictive, and outrageously good fun.
Where: Skyline Queenstown opens in new window
Skill level: All ages.
Want to get airborne but can’t face leaping from an aeroplane? With just a gentle run up, you’re off, soaring 500 metres above Queenstown under a parachute-like “wing”, in tandem with your trusty pilot. Lifted aloft on thermals and descending in gentle arcs, enjoying bird’s-eye views with no engine noise, no vibrations, and no window between you and the breathtaking mountain and lake scenery. This may be your ultimate scenic flight. But don’t look too relaxed or your pilot may up the ante with some aerobatics before touch down.
Where: Gforce Paragliding opens in new window
Skill level: Minimal fitness required.
Weight limit: 30kg–100kg
Buzz factor: Zen-like high times, with breathtaking rushes.
Jumping from a great height attached to an industrial-strength rubber band was pioneered by New Zealander AJ Hackett in 1987. From his original bungy jumping base, at historic Kawarau Bridge, you can replicate this ridiculous feat with a 43-metre leap, either solo or with a friend. Take a few deep breaths and a triple shot of courage before you launch headfirst towards the swirling waters. For the mega buzz, jump Hackett’s nearby Nevis Bungy instead – a head-screwing 134-metre plummet into a rocky canyon, New Zealand’s loftiest jump with 8.5 seconds of freefall.
Where: AJ Hackett Bungy opens in new window
Skill level: As easy as falling off a log. Ages 10 and over.
Minimum weight: 35kg
Buzz factor: Fairly traumatic, but you will bounce back.
Get ready to embrace your fear and experience the ultimate high. Yes, this is the big one, and it will give you a buzz to last a lifetime. First there’s the 15-minute flight up to 15,000 feet to one of the world’s most spectacular drop zones, high above the Southern Alps. Then there’s possibly the freakiest moment of your life – the exit – followed by 60 seconds of freefall at terminal velocity, a 200km/h rush that should pretty much blow your mind. You should be able to regroup a little during the floaty finale after the chute opens. Spare a thought for your tandem jumpmasters. For them this isn’t once in a lifetime, this is daily life.
Where: Nzone Skydive opens in new window
Skill level: Of sound mind and body.
Maximum weight: 100kg
Buzz factor: Extreme.