To say that we were excited about New Zealand would be an Orc sized understatement (sorry we aren't sorry for the Lord of the Rings references that will pepper our upcoming NZ posts). Self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world, the small city of Queenstown has no shortage of adrenaline-fueled activities for all interests, making it the perfect place to kick off our time in this stunning country. The town's placement sets that stage, nestled up against the massive Lake Wakatipu (over 110 sq. miles) and under the shadow of The Remarkables mountain range. Sure does make for an awesome backdrop.
The global, amped-up crowd that this extreme town attracts creates a decidedly college-town feel for Queenstown. When it comes to lodging, definitely take this backpacker vibe into consideration. We were drawn into our first hostel of the trip at Base Backpackers thanks to a $15/night deal we snagged from NakedBus.com. While it was great for the budget, we realized that we enjoy the finer things in life like sleep, clean sheets, and not residing above an all-night dance club...call us old-fashioned. Regardless of where you lay your head, definitely make sure to join the group that congregates on the beach to hangout and watch some of the most amazing sunsets you will ever see.
As you walk through Queenstown's quaint and cultured downtown, every third store advertises a different wild adventure: jet boating through canyons, cave diving, parasailing, paragliding, mountain biking, ziplines, heli-tours, luge, and the crown jewel...bungee jumping. Considered to be the birthplace of throwing your body off tall things with an elastic tied to you, we knew that we couldn't miss out even despite Julie's hesitation. In all fairness, she normally loves jumping off things but was afraid that her lunch would maintain its course when the rest of her body changed direction. We chose to go with AJ Hacket's Ledge jump because of their epic views of the city, lake, and mountains. IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Of course we had to take the GoPro with us! Check out the first person view in case you're not sure if bungee jumping is for you...hopefully it will change your mind (but make sure to select the settings wheel and choose HD)!
Still giddy from our bungee, we took our time exploring the sights at the top of the mountain that The Ledge perches from. We had taken a $30 (NZD) gondola up for the bungee, and the views overlooking Queenstown were amazing! (Note that the gondola ride is not included in your jump ticket - there is a path to hike up if you don't want to pay, but we were short on time and needed to make it up for our 4pm booking.)
After the bungee splurge, our wallets were shrinking quickly (food in Australia and NZ is expensive, ya'll!) so we were on the hunt for some tasty cheap eats in Queenstown. Highlights include the infamous Fergburger (delicious burgers bigger than my head - would recommend going at some crazy odd time of the day if you want to skip the insane long line), Johnny Barrs (soup, salad, sandwich joint), Bob's Weigh (tasty & hearty breakfast), and @Thai (the hidden gem of a Thai spot with huge and tasty dishes).
After two (long) nights staying in our downtown hostel (good riddance, to be honest) we were so thrilled to make the short 10 minute sunset drive to the sweetest AirBnB you ever did see! If you are staying in Queenstown and are looking for a comfortable bed, private bathroom, delicious breakfast and beautiful countryside views (ohh, and the friendly alpacas!), we would absolutely recommend staying with Me Ae and Wayne in their beautiful home! They were interesting, gracious hosts and Me Ae was even kind enough to take care of our laundry while we were out adventuring!
Have any other Queenstown recommendations that we missed? Which adrenaline activity would you pick (or have you already done)? We LOVED bungee jumping and are also looking forward to skydiving with our family once we're back in the States!