If you’re considering a vacation to New Zealand, Queenstown is the perfect spot for either a simple day trip or a longer stay. There is no shortage of Queenstown activities to enjoy, and the variety of attractions can appeal to any traveller’s tastes. However, it’s seldom possible to see everything that any location has to offer on just a single trip. If Queenstown has caught your eye, these five places are definite must-see attractions that you won’t want to miss.
Lord of the Rings Fan? Check Out Arrowtown
If you’ve ever seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you probably know that the films were shot in New Zealand. If you are the ultimate LOTR fan, this stop should be at the top of your list. Arrowtown is a small heritage town that is known as a quaint gold rush era village. You’ll want to experience the Arrowtown Millennium Walk Trail, a 4-kilometer hiking trail that runs past the site of a historic quartz mine. The Millennium Trail was the primary filming location for the “Gladden Fields” scenes in The Lord of the Rings. Located about 20 kilometres from Queenstown, Arrowtown is accessible by Malaghans Road or the Gibbston Highway.
Sail Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw
Departing from Walter Peak High Country Farm on the western side of Lake Wakatipu, a ride on the TSS Earnslaw is bound to be a memorable experience. Originally built in 1912, the Earnslaw is the only coal-powered steamboat that takes on passengers in the entire southern hemisphere. It gained widespread recognition in 2008 when it made an appearance in the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This 100-plus-year-old ship’s engine room is open for passenger observation during trips. For an unforgettable nautical experience, a trip on the Earnslaw is a definite must.
Get Back to the Land at Walter Peak High Country Farm
After your trip on the Earnslaw, you will disembark at the base of Walter Peak, which is an 1,800-metre (6,000-foot) mountain. Nestled below the mountain is the Walter Peak High Country Farm, a quaint (and fully operational) farm where you’ll get to see traditional New Zealand livestock farming in action. The farm offers guided tours where participants will feed sheep, get up close and personal with cattle and deer, watch the dogs herd the livestock, and even observe one of the farmhands perform a sheep shearing. Afterward, you can enjoy a mid-afternoon cup of tea in the Colonel’s Homestead garden-side restaurant.
Enjoy a Coffee or Glass of Wine at Stoneridge
New Zealand is a nation that has a rich wine making history, spanning all the way back to the early 1800s. A number of high-profile wine critics, including Oz Clarke and George Taber, extol New Zealand wines for their brilliant aromas and exotic tastes. Clarke states that New Zealand produces the best Sauvignon blanc in the world. The area is also fiercely dedicated to the art of coffee making. Having its own annual coffee festival and national Specialty Coffee Association, it’s clear that New Zealanders love a good coffee. Stoneridge Estate, which overlooks Lake Hayes, is just a 15-minute drive from Queenstown. This artisan winery and vineyard is also home to a boutique bed & breakfast and the Cellar Door Café, where patrons can enjoy wine tastings, lunch items, and coffee. Sporting architectural features that incorporate railway beams and items from a demolished church, Stoneridge also boasts an art gallery that features local art from Otago.
Drive Skipper’s Canyon for the Ultimate Adrenaline Rush
Situated just a few kilometres north of Queenstown, Skipper’s Canyon was a prominent area during the gold rush. It is also the location of the first electrically powered dredge. Today, the area is one of the most well known scenic driving routes in New Zealand. An area that is home to several adventure sports like white-water rafting and jet boating, it is also a great place for adventurous drivers. Major features include a large bridge, the Heavens Gate and Hells Gate passes, and the historic Mount Aurum Station’s Homestead. Skipper’s Canyon is typically only accessible via four-wheel-drive vehicles, and it is advised that tourists take part in a heritage tour or safari. The road consists of very soft rock that can crumble under pressure. Because of the potential hazards that the area poses, car insurance companies will not honour their policies if you drive Skipper’s Canyon in a rental vehicle.
These are five must-see and must-do Queenstown activities for tourists exploring New Zealand. Whether you’re looking for a four-wheel adventure on one of the world’s most dangerous roads, an artisan wine or gourmet coffee, a steamboat trip to an authentic livestock farm or a Lord of the Rings themed tour, there’s something for everyone in Queenstown. Even if none of the above activities appeal to you, you’re bound to find something enjoyable on travel sites like www.everythingqueenstown.com. If a trip to New Zealand is on your bucket list, make sure you take in these five great attractions.