Bring Your Bucket List: Queenstown’s Best Adrenaline Activities.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Do one thing each day that scares you”. If you have a niggling desire to inject some adrenaline into your life then a visit to Queenstown could be what’s needed. With a truckload of scary, amazing, thrilling activities on offer, a visit to Queenstown is the perfect opportunity to tick a few items off the bucket list.
Far from the relaxing lakeside strolls and sunny afternoons at the vineyard, you’ll find the best selection of adrenaline activities this side of the equator. In fact, Queenstown is known as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. For a small town at the bottom of the South Island, Queenstown punches well above its weight when it comes to thrills. So in between golf, wine tours, and photography why not do one big, scary, wild thing while you’re in Queenstown.
No shortage of thrills
At last count, Queenstown offered a choice of five jet boat trips, three bungy jump options, two zipline rides, three swings and four paragliding trips. That’s not to mention hang-gliding, skydiving, quad biking and canyoning… and the list goes on.
The best thing about adventure and adrenaline in Queenstown is that it’s set against the backdrop of one of the most spectacular locations on the planet. Even the flight into Queenstown is exhilarating. The mountainous approach into Queenstown Airport was this year voted the world’s most scenic approach by Private.Fly, beating Las Vegas, Cote D’Azur, and London City.
If you feel like upping the adrenaline factor during your Queenstown holiday, here are 5 thrilling activities guaranteed to get the heart pumping.
The idea of throwing people off very tall structures attached only to an elastic band originated on the Pentecost Islands of Vanuatu. But it took a couple of crazy Kiwis to turn this death-defying concept into a tourism operation. There are three AJ Hackett Bungy operations in Queenstown allowing you to choose your preferred jump height. At 43m, there’s the “kind of scary” Kawarau Bridge Bungy. Then there’s the “a bit scarier” Ledge Bungy at 47m (add to that the bungy site is located 400m above Queenstown). And then there’s the “really, very, seriously scary” Nevis Bungy at 143m. Throwing yourself off a bungy bridge may seem like a crazy idea but when it’s backed by AJ Hackett’s 25 years of experience and a spotless safety record there’s no reason not to. Surely?
Don’t let the name fool you. This is no ordinary playground swing, more like a swing on steroids. Take a leap of faith and fearlessly dive off the platform 109m above the famous Shotover Riven in Queenstown Canyon. We recommend that this adventure is best done with a buddy and doing it 'tandem' gives you a little more faith that you're plummeting with a significant 'other!' Shotover Canyon Swing has been operating since 2002 and is one of Queenstown’s craziest adrenaline activities. Each year thousands of people fall from a perfectly good platform into the Shotover River gorge below for a thrilling 200m pendulum swing at a speed of 150km per hour. This is a truly unique way to spend a couple of hours in Queenstown. The activity starts with a quick 4WD trip to the jump site above the Shotover River. In a full body harness, you have over 70 different styles of jump to choose from. With names like “The Elvis Cutaway”, “Gimp boy goes to Hollywood”, “Pin Drop” and the ominous sounding “The Chair”, you know you’re in for a fun (and scary) experience.
Skydiving is what Bucket Lists are all about. Jumping out of a plane is the ultimate adrenaline rush and skydiving in Queenstown is even more exceptional as it involves freefalling over one of the most picturesque landscapes on the planet. Jumping high above Lake Wakatipu, overlooking the majesty of the Southern Alps is an experience likely to blow your mind. Skydiving company NZONE is the long-standing operator who will give you the chance to jump out of a perfectly good plane above this striking landscape. In a small plane and a very good parachute, you’ll jump from 15,000ft with 60 thrilling seconds of free fall, followed by a very relieving five minutes under canopy gliding down to solid ground. NZONE is another highly regarded operator with an impeccable safety record. Guaranteed to give you one of the best highs of your life.
Dowhill Mountain Biking
Take the easier scenic route up by gondola, but the downhill, well that one's on you! With over 30 world-class downhill MTB trails totalling over 30 kms of riding and 450 metres of vertical descent, the day is your's to play away. One pass will cover your day, and there are loads of shops in town that can hire the full kit - from bike to clothes and safety equipment. All you need to do is bring the attitude!
There’s skiing… and then there’s heli-skiing. If you’ve got a bucket list, we recommend putting this amazing experience on that list without delay. There’s no better place to indulge in a once in a lifetime snow experience than the fresh powder of the Southern Alps. Skiing in and around Queenstown offers some exceptional on-piste experiences at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables and further afield at Cardrona and Treble Cone. But if you’re looking for something truly special (and a good way to make your friends green with envy) book yourself some heli-ski time. Queenstown’s heli-ski operators have a huge range of terrain they are allowed to access and will choose the location to suit the conditions. Avoid the chairlifts and find yourself some untracked powder.
White Water Rafting
White water rafting in Queenstown brings the added thrill of rafting in a truly spectacular location. A Shotover River rafting trip begins with a journey into the remote and striking Skippers Canyon. Along the Skippers Road, the bus journey itself is not for the feint of heart. The road is the original access to the abandoned gold mining township of Skippers. Cut into the steep rock face above the Shotover River gorge, your heart will be racing before you even arrive at the rafts. A trip with Queenstown Rafting offers a real white water rafting experience. The river is graded 3 – 5, the highest grade commercially rafted in the world. Basically, that means there’s a good chance you’ll fall out of the boat! For the less brave, there is the gentler option of rafting the Kawarau River. Either trip offers one of the most thrilling ways to spend half a day in Queenstown.
If you’re feeling the need to up the adrenaline factor, make sure you check out the range of combo tour options available in Queenstown. Allowing you to combine two or more of Queenstown’s thrill adventures this is the best way to create one big day of bucket-listing.
Don’t leave town until you’ve scared yourself silly.