Queenstown, New Zealand
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Queenstown, New Zealand

© 123rf.com / Chris Jewiss

Queenstown travel guide

Queenstown’s mind-blowing lakeside setting, beneath the splendid Remarkables mountain range, turns the adrenaline radar up to the max - and that’s before you’ve even booked your first bungee jump.

Adventure junkies flock to this sublime New Zealand town on the South Island to test its claim as the adventure capital of the world. The array of excitement-inducing activities on offer is mind numbing: you can fling or swing yourself from pretty much any available ledge or peak. A bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge is virtually a rite of passage for any self-respecting visitor (this is the birthplace of the bungee, after all, invented here in 1988 by AJ Hackett). Then there’s jet boating, flying foxes, the world’s highest swing, canyoning, river surfing, acrobatic flights - you name it. In winter, meanwhile, skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes by day and take advantage of the town's legendary bars and clubs by night.

And if all that high-velocity action gets your heart beating a little too fast, you can take it easy on a laid-back vintage steamship cruise on S-shaped Lake Wakatipu or calm your nerves with a few swigs of Pinot Noir on a winery tour. Discover the region’s gold-mining heritage in nearby Arrowtown, or sink into a private cliff-side pool peering over the Shotover River canyon.

From Queenstown, it’s a short drive to Mount Aspiring National Park, a heady mixture of remote wilderness, pristine river valleys and soaring peaks. The park is home to the beautiful Routeburn Track, a two- to four-day hike weaving through beech-forested valleys and alongside clear green rivers, glistening alpine lakes and breathtaking views from a mountain pass. Further south, a kayak paddle through magnificent Milford Sound is an experience you’ll be telling your grandchildren about.

With such a mesmerising panorama, it’s little surprise that native New Zealander, Peter Jackson, decided to use Queenstown and some of its unspoilt surroundings as the backdrop for Middle Earth in The Hobbit movies and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is the one set where you’ll want to be the star.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.