On the South Island, this small city is popular all year round. In winter for skiing on the surrounding mountains, most notably The Remarkables, and in summer for more daring activities like bungy jumping and skydiving.
The city itself is a mixture of older buildings, it was found as a sheep farm in the late 1800’s, and new money from the tourism. It’s chock full of shops and restaurants crammed along tiny streets and weaving their way back through laneways.
Situated on a small, square bay on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has beautiful water views and a picturesque shoreline. Lake Wakatipu is the only naturally lightning-bolt shaped lake in the world. It is a Maori legend that an evil spirit who kidnapped a local chief’s daughter, laid down to sleep with his knees bent up. The spirit was set alight by the man rescuing the chief’s daughter and the spirit’s body shape burnt into the ground and was subsequently filled with water. Lake Wakatipu’s water level can fluctuate more than 20 cm within an hour, which is said to be the spirit’s heart still beating.
One of the adventure activities available in Queenstown is luging. After taking a gondola up most of the mountain, there is a chairlift to be taken even higher. At the top, just grab a luge and fly back down the mountain on one of 2 courses that weave their way back down. It was seriously fun… Even Mr. Jelly Belly took his turn luging!
As there is a beachfront, various water sports are also popular. As well as the standard kayaking and paddle boarding, there were also huge floating tricycles called Water Bikes. We chose to kayak and Water Bike. Both were extremely fun and afforded some spectacular views.
For the more daring, there were also these strange submarine boats that were shaped and painted to look like sharks. The first time one popped out of the water, I almost had a heart attack. No one wants to kayak alongside a 3 meter shark!
But above all, the jaw-dropping scenery was magical.
Lake Wakatipu is known for being very pure, and while that may not be so true anymore after all the jet skis and boats, the color and beauty of it surrounded on all side by the Southern Alps is still magnificent.