Quirky Queenstown

Renowned for action-packed adventure, there’s more to Queenstown than meets the eye.

If you only had one free day to explore Queenstown, would you opt for out-there adrenaline activities or something left-of-centre? If bouncing over a gorge, face-down, is not for you, why not walk on a different wild side with one these lesser-known excursions.

Make like Tarzan

If you cast your mind back to childhood, think about one summer activity that was both thrilling and free-of-charge. We’re not talking about stealing lollies out of your Nanna’s stash, but rather rope swings. It turns out Kiwis love them too and there are lots hidden around Queenstown if you know where to look.

If you want to keep your feet dry, there’s a swing that crosses a narrow stream on the edge of Queenstown Gardens, by the Bathhouse Restaurant. The advantage of this is that you can also explore the botanic gardens, planted with both native and exotic species dating back to 1866.

If you would prefer to brave the frigid waters of Lake Wakatipu, head down to Steamers Wharf and walk towards St Omer Wharf on the lake foreshore. En route, you will find the most easily-accessible rope swing in the village and get to experience a genuine local hangout.

Walk this way

Fancy an easy hike with the added advantage of staggering views over The Remarkables and Lake Wakitipu? The Jack’s Point walking track takes about four hours to complete, but the time taken really depends on how long you spend at lunch. With two starting points, you can either opt to walk along the lakeside to Jack’s Point Clubhouse for a lunch stop, or you can start at the Clubhouse and walk back in the opposite direction to Jardine Park on the Kelvin Peninsula.

Jack’s Point also has an 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course that is open to visitors seven days a week. Keen golfers may want to stick to walking around the course and enjoy its sympathetic design that retains much of the original tussock grass plains, rock outcrops and native bushland. 

On yer bike

Explore a historic – and possibly haunted – gold mining village, hoon across a suspension bridge and treat your palate to some local wines during an easy, half-day bicycle tour with Queenstown’s Around the Basin (aroundthebasin.co.nz).

After being picked up from your Queenstown accommodation, you’ll be driven to Arrowtown where you will mount your trusty metal steed and follow the Arrow River trail downstream. Cross the Kawarau River suspension bridge and cruise into the Gibbston Valley – aka the Valley of the Vines – for a leisurely tasting of some of Central Otago’s finest wines, before being dropped back to Queenstown.

There are plenty of places in Queenstown that offer bike hire so if you prefer to go it alone, simply download Tourism New Zealand’s Cycle Trail Guide from tourismnewzealand.com. It includes a one to three-day Queenstown Trail option.

Shoot the breeze

Fancy yourself to be a bit of an action hero? Watched enough sniper movies to think you could hit a moving target? Break One Target Sports clay target shooting, located on a private property on the outskirts of Queenstown, offers tuition to everyone from beginners to Olympic-level athletes.

Pacifists need not worry as the ‘pigeons’ are made of clay and thrown from a machine that is designed to simulate the flight of a bird.

Due to the secluded location of the property, there are no self-drive options and all bookings include return transfers from Queenstown.

Paddle pops

There is something oh-so-tranquil about gliding across the crystalline surface of Lake Wakatipu.

Yes, kayaking is technically hard work but Kinloch Lodge offers one or two-hour kayaking excursions complete with morning or afternoon tea and a soak in a hot tub afterwards to offset any overexertion.

The Lodge also supplies all the necessary equipment, including shortie wetsuits, spray jackets and life jackets, because the South Island of New Zealand is pretty ‘chully’ even in the middle of summer.

The guided paddle across the lake is just part of the adventure. The lodge is located in Glenorchy, 48 kilometres from Queenstown, so you will need to either drive – part of the way on unsealed roads – or arrange a transfer, bus or boat ride for an additional fee.

With an onsite restaurant serving local fare like mussels, wild venison, salmon and a decadent Kinloch rosemary baked cheesecake, why not make a day of it and kayak the calories off later?

Discover the best of New Zealand, contact RACQ Travel.