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Besides admiring pure, unadulterated beauty?

Queenstown is one of those always-on-holiday towns that are fun and vibrant in the summer, snow-covered and magical in the winter- like stepping into a massive snow globe. It has a lake, streams running through, a quaint small-town downtown area, hills and cliffs for picnics, and a list of things to do that could keep you on your toes for weeks! The real challenge is filtering through the many experiences Queenstown offers, and picking the ones you like most based on the time you have on your hands.

1. Gondola Ride:

The ride itself is nothing fancy, nor is the view upward so fabulous. But once you get there, standing at the top, you get view of all of Queenstown- the little houses like miniature huts on a monopoly board, a vast blue lake with two different shades of blue- a valley in the middle of barren cliffs, and the occasional helicopter flying by. There’s also a restaurant up there called Stratosphere (and a candy store and souvenir shop) in case you want to grab a bite.

2. Get on a Luge:

Another thing this place offers is a luge ride. These are quite famous- and quite fun- in New Zealand, and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. A luge is a tiny cart for one or two people, that comes with a handle that can be steered around. It’s a lot like a sledge and starts at the top of the hill, to be steered downhill. It’s safe for children and the ideal family experience.

3. Star Gazing at the top of the hill:

A quick walk away from the Stratosphere restaurant- at the top of the hill- Skyline Queenstown organises stargazing. It’s definitely worth attending, because the NZ skies are clearer than anywhere else, and the starts are bright and big.

4. Take a scenic ride:

These are helicopter rides around Queenstown, to Mount Cook and even to Milford Sound. There are many other rides they offer, starting at $99 per person.

5. Bungee Jumping:

AT Hackett is the Bungy Jump company in Queenstown- and the best. They offer many other activities to try out as well- including zip lining and massive swings that swing you into the valley many many feet below. If Auckland is on your travel itinerary, you could also opt for the bungee jump off Harbour Bridge, or the bridge walk that AT Hackett offers.

6. Jet Boating:

One of my favourite water adventure activities- and strongly recommended. Maybe not in Queenstown though- unless its your first time. The best one happens at Hukka Falls, and if you’re visiting that area, you should save your Jet Boating experience for the falls.

7. Para Sailing:

This is subject to the weather, like most activities mentioned here, because the weather in NZ is entirely unpredictable. While parasailing could be fun- the one in Queenstown is a bit slow- maybe because its a lake and there are no waves to make it an exciting flight, but I found myself getting bored a few minutes into it. And at the risk of contradicting myself here- the first few minutes are fun though.

8. Just Drive:

Queenstown is so over-the-top gorgeous, you would just want to see more. Every turn, every solitary cliff, every single view unfolding around from different spots along the hills. Just rent a car and keep on driving, as far as you can, and stop at as many spots as you can. You can keep yourself busy just looking at the same lake from different places, for days!

9. Go for a picnic:

The ideal place to pack up a picnic basket and go for a day out with your friends or family, just sunbathing or enjoying a picture perfect picnic. My favourite is the Seventh Mile, very easily missable so its best to use Google Maps- but you won’t regret it. It has the best view, and there’s hardly ever a soul around.

10. Visit a Lavender Field:

You will need permission to visit one, because these are private properties that usually only allow journalists to visit- but they are often accommodating if you call ahead. The Ben Lomond Lavender Field is the largest and prettiest, and they also sell fresh skincare products made from lavender.

11. Visit Arrow Town:

A town within a town, in my opinion. And naturally- only smaller. Arrow Town has boutique stores selling the most charming collectibles, cafes and bakeries and a very old town feeling that makes you wonder if it even has more than several hundred residents. What used to be a Chinese miners colony is now a showpiece more than an economy of its own, but it’s worth half a day spent- a bright little gem that really is worth a visit.

12. Take day trips:

Following from the “just drive” tip- well, you’re eventually gonna find yourself somewhere. While some people take on longer road trips- what I truly believe is the best way to experience New Zealand- to Milford Sound or Mount Cook or other such places, you could also just drive down to some spots closer to Queenstown that could bring you right back in the evenings. Lake Wanaka, Glenorchy, or if you’re looking for a longer drive- maybe even Fiordland.

13. Go Biking:

This really depends on your fitness levels. Biking in and around Queenstown is all about very steep roads, and unless you’ve been biking on the reg or have a good general fitness level- you might want to consider parking this idea for another time or place.

14. Take a hike:

I mean that literally. The Kiwis are adventurous people who enjoy their hikes along the roads less taken. There are many trails, even lesser discovered ones, that you could climb- not just for the view but for the fresh air that comes with it.

15. Wine Tours and Wine Tasting:

There are plenty food and wine tasting tours in Queenstown. Some even come with helicopter rides. These tours can be booked online or locally. Gibbston Valley is the largest wine cave in New Zealand, with many vineyards and different types of wine in their kitty. You can check our more on the Gibbston Valley website.

16. Check out the movie locations:

It’s common knowledge that the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit trilogy was shot in NZ’s South Island- but there are many more movie makers that have flocked here in the past- including Narnia, King Kong and even Avatar. There are many tours that take you along to check out all the movie locations around town that you could check out if you’re a movie buff!

Nikita Butalia is a solo 20-something traveler who documents her experiences around India and the rest of the world in witty narratives and travel tales that are best read curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate on a winter evening.

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