what to do in Queenstown, New Zealand

I knew that Queenstown was something special from the very moment our Air New Zealand flight began its approach into the Queenstown airport. Descending through a mountain valley, I could look out the left window and see near-by mountains almost close enough to reach out and touch. Then banking to the right right across a lake, the flight began its final overwater approach to the Queenstown airport flying through another mountain valley. This was one of the most beautiful and dramatic landings I have ever experienced. (Note: if at all possible, fly into Queenstown on Air New Zealand and not Qantas. NZ has newer planes with GPS installed and can make the landing in bad weather more often than Qantas).

Queenstown is a stunningly beautiful four-season resort offering alpine sports in the winter and outdoor activities all year long. Situated on beautiful Wakatipu Lake (see picture above), this small village with less than 20,000 residents is host to millions of travelers a year. It offers miles of picturesque hikes, great shopping, fine dining, and memorable hotels and B&Bs for guests.

What to do in Queenstown? You may have heard of the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the world's first bungy jump and an activity sure to induce an adrenaline rush. (This is the same Bungy Jump featured in last season's The Bachelor. You may remember Jason and Molly jumping off this 43 meter bridge together). No chance I would ever do something like this; it was thrill enough to watch others give it a try!

The two signature activities offered in Queenstown are a helicopter ride through the Milford Sound and a speed boat trip up the the Dart River. Be aware, however, that these activities require good weather conditions. 100 mph winds in the Milford Sound made it impossible for us to to take the helicopter ride, and bad weather conditions also ruled out the Dart River trip. Lesson to be learned: plan to spend three days in Queenstown, and schedule these activities for your first day. If weather conditions make them impossible, you'll have two more chances to have these ultimate experiences.

Be watching this space for a future review of the luxury hotels of Queenstown.

what to do | Queenstown, New Zealand (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2009 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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