So this is our run-down of our 1st stop off the plane in New Zealand, Queenstown! It's beautiful, crazy and we fell in love with it. Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to see videos of the area and the crazy activities we got up to (bungy, giant swing, jet-boating)
We landed in Queenstown airport on a Wednesday afternoon, picked up the Jucy van from their lot outside and got on the road (just a note, we found out afterward that it is usually much cheaper to fly in and out of Christchurch).
We didn't get far though... You will quickly realise Kiwis have an unhealthy obsession with roundabouts, so after doing 2 laps of the airport looking for "take the 3rd exit" we got onto the road going into Frankton... and stopped. Traffic was impossibly bad for 3pm on a Wednesday and again it was the fault of a ridiculous number of roundabouts where any civilised country would put a set of lights. It won't bother you though, the scenery is mindblowing!
If you fly into Queenstown and pick up your campervan there don't turn right towards Queenstown, instead turn left and about 3 blocks away is a New World supermarket which is much bigger and cheaper than any of the options available in Queenstown ( don't forget to grab the essentials listed in the last post as well as your Clubcard for discounts)
There is limited options of where you can stay inside Queenstown with a campervan and free camping is not legal inside any town (there are signs as you enter/leave town showing where the boundary is). We ended up staying at Creeksyde Holiday Park which was the most expensive place of the entire trip but had good clean facilities and was only 4min walk from the town centre. ($52 for 2 people at a powered site with water, "free" hot showers and 2 min free wi-fi a day)
The campsite was right next to the base of the Gondala that takes you to the top of the hill above the town but we decided to walk up (very steep, near vertical in a few place and approx 1hr) On the way up you won't see much as it is heavily wooded but close to the top you will see all the mountain bikers heading down and ziplines going overhead through the trees. We decided that looked like a great way to get down but were a bit shocked to be told it cost $180 so continued walking up.
The view from the top is amazing and you feel like you have arrived at some sort of adrenaline sport Mecca, there are para-gliders swooping overhead, a luge track winding around you ( great fun, get at least 3 rides ($30) as you have to take a slow track the 1st time). You can hear the screams of people leaping from the AJ Hackett Bungy and Swing and basically feel like you are mainlining adrenaline just being there.
Keep scrolling to see the videos of us doing the worlds biggest swing, NZ's biggest bungy and Shotover river gorge jet-boating.
We caught the Gondala down ($20) and decided it was beer o'clock so headed for Atlas Beer Cafe down by the waterfront. There we tried the local Altitude Brewery Mischievous Kea IPA and Posturing Professional Pale both of which were good but not particularly memorable (that may have been due to the number of them we had though...)
The next day was adrenaline time! Marina has had "bungy jump in NZ" on her bucket list since we met so today was the day to cross it off. At the same site is also the world's largest swing which you can do together so that got added to the list too. The swing I would happily do again multiple times and you can for an additional $40 per jump (as opposed to $175 for the 1st one) but see below for my feelings on the bungy...
A word of warning, there are a lot of information/booking centres in town that do combo deals with all the different adrenaline activities but you have to do them all in one day and the savings are only tiny really (seriously like $5). The only exception to this that we found was doing the AJ Hackett Nevis Bungee and Swing together which saves you $100 off full price. We were considering doing a deal with a full day that includes Bungy, Swing, Jet Boating through Canyons and a Helicopter Drop at the top of a White Water Rafting River and are so glad that we didn't! For one thing the saving wasn't much and for another we simply wouldn't have enjoyed that much adrenaline pumped into one day.
After the bungy and swing alone we were ready to go meditate in a dimly lit room with a bottle of absinthe to calm the nerves. Instead we headed out to see some live music at Little Blackwood (close to Atlas Beer Cafe)and found that they have excellent cheese and charcuterie boards, great atmosphere and a good wine selection. happy days!
Another warning: I have skydived twice, Marina once and both of us love it, you feel like a god and drift to earth like a feather.... Not a single person getting off the Nevis bungy (134m freefall, 3x higher than the other options available) had a glow in their skin or sparkle in their eye. They all looked like they had fallen to hell, been slapped by the devil and catapulted back on a rubber band, then repeated it... twice more, before being hauled up like a carcass and dumped unceremoniously on a rocking suspended platform to attempt to re-gather their dignity. When asked about the experience they all twitched, gave a little shudder, looked at the floor and replied "well... I'm glad I did it, but I won't do it again" I kid you not....
The next morning was Jet Boat time. DO NOT take one of the ones in the lake in Queenstown unless you have no spine at all. The Shotover Canyon run is so much more fun than I was expecting. The boats hit top speeds of 85km/h going up tight windy canyons in 10cm or less of water, it is fast, exciting and (after the bungy) just good wholesome fun. Plus if you love it you can do it again for $19 you just need to wait until a boat with an open spot comes up (they run every 15min)
After that we headed to my new favourite bar.. Smith Craft Beer Bar. Great selection of beer on tap (19 from memory) and really good pub grub. I loved the Cassels and Sons "Heart of Darkness" Black IPA.
From there we headed to Liquor King on Stanley St to fill our iKegger with a 25oz Pilsner from the local Queenstown Brewers before hitting the road to Milford Sound... Coming soon!
For videos of some scenery around Queenstown (a little shaky as it was on the phone, no drone flying with so many aerial sports happening) plus the adrenaline activities check out the video below. If you like please share using the buttons to the left or below the video! You can sign up to receive the next articles via email or RSS to the left too!
Now we thought we would fill you in on some of the things that made our life easier / cheaper or more pleasant during the trip.
Buy Insect Repellent. Sandflies are like mosquitoes, except on steroids, in gangs and armed with machine guns...
Check out our guide of what to pack before you head to NZ for a campervan holiday.
Check out our (semi) complete guide to what we did, how and where over the next couple of weeks.