Queenstown, New Zealand: Bungy Jumping, Alpacas and Epic Views
Four nights in Dunedin went by fairly quickly and we soon found ourselves on the road again, driving through picturesque New Zealand scenery. Next stop was Queenstown, a touristy resort town in the middle of Otago region, situated on the beautiful Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by tall mountain ranges with snowy caps. We've heard from locals that Queenstown is a touristy place but this is not at all a bad thing. This beautiful town has something for everyone: extreme sports for daredevils, hiking trails for nature seekers, and restaurants and bars for those that prefer a relaxed vacation. We got there on November 11, 2014 and stayed for five nights.
Yet again we booked a room using Airbnb. When we first saw the house we rented online we knew it would be the perfect place for us. Situated about a 15 minute drive from Queenstown, it was a remote oasis with amazing views. The owners turned out to be super sweet and we chatted with them frequently by their fireplace. A very unique thing about this place were five cute alpacas. The owners keep these funny animals as pets and lawnmowers. Every day during our stay we would go over to see them and feed them a treat of bread.
One of our first activities in Queenstown was a hike up Queenstown Hill. It was a fairly quick but very steep hike in the woods. When we finally came across an open space we saw one of the most spectacular views of blue Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountains called The Remarkables. It was really cold on the top. On our way down we saw an elderly lady walking down with two hiking sticks right at the point where the trail loop was getting pretty steep and rocky. We offered our help and she gladly accepted. It turned out that she was an Austrian lady visiting New Zealand on a tour. Some kid at the info center told her this hike would be easy but that was far from the truth. She just had two knee surgeries six months ago, but was such a good sport about it. Wanting to explore, she set out on this hike alone. We took her under our arms and walked down listening to travel stories from her youth. It felt nice to do something good. We wrapped the day with a round of drinks at Below Zero Ice Bar where, as the name suggests, everything was made of ice.
During our stay in Queenstown we took a scenic drive along Lake Wakatipu to the small town of Glenorchy where we went for a walk along the Glenorchy Lagoon. It was an easy and relaxing walk with some picnic tables along the way. Aside from that, Vlad jumped off the bridge that was birthplace of bungy jumping, the Kawarau Bridge. It was here where AJ Hackett first launched the world's commercially operated bungy jumping. I think I was more nervous than Vlad. He was really excited and happy he pushed himself out of his comfort zone. Since Vlad did something daring, I decided to go paragliding. Unfortunately the weather was bad for two days and the flights kept getting cancelled due to unpredictable winds. I guess I'll have to wait to do it elsewhere.
Queenstown was our favorite area of New Zealand. The surroundings were simply astounding and we loved the house in which we stayed. We were very sad to leave this place and hope to return there one day.
Here are some facts about Queenstown and photos below. As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments below.
Geography: Queenstown is located in the South Central part of New Zealand's South Island, region of Otago.
Population: 28,000 people live in Queenstown
Best Known for: Being a resort town with beautiful views; The Remarkables mountain range; Lake Wakatipu; ski slopes; extreme sports (paragliding, skydiving, bungy jumping); bungy jumping originated here and was developed by AJ Hackett; tramping (hiking) trails; Fergburger.
What We Noticed: beautiful views of snow covered mountains and green rolling hills; beautiful blue color of Lake Wakatipu; lots of international tourists; souvenir shops; great selection of restaurants; two ice bars; movie theater; charming and happening town; and of course lots of sheep and cows.
The route from Dunedin to Queenstown was very scenic.
The house we stayed at near Queenstown was our favorite spot during this entire trip. The views around the house were amazing. Snow coverage on the mountains changed daily, depending on the weather.
Our bedroom was spacious and bright.
The living room had a lovely fireplace which we gladly used. The whole house had the feel of a mountain lodge.
New Zealand's famous bird, the Tui, was a frequent visitor to the area. Tuis have fancy feather bibs.
These guys however were our favorite animals in Queenstown. Meet Christopher, Glen and Brownie, the house owners' alpacas. Brownie really liked photos.
Vlad and his crew: Edno, Alpachi, and Brownie. There were five alpacas in total. There were also lots of sheep in the area. A lone sheep. The sky in NZ is full of stars. Sometimes you even get to see one falling! I really regret not bringing my tripod on this trip. I had to improvise so the photos are not very sharp. In this one Vlad "painted" the house with a flashlight.
Queenstown is a picturesque resort town. It is situated on Lake Waketipu and surrounded by tall mountains. Queenstown was significantly more touristy than most places in New Zealand but it was still very charming and we liked the lively energy of the town.
On our drive back from Queenstown to our house we made a small detour tempted by this view. Close up of the mountain peak - NZ mountains are really amazing.
Hiking the Queenstown Hill. Near the top. Can you even find Vlad?
The view from the top was spectacular. Lake Wakatipu was super blue, although not for long. Shortly after this photo was taken it got very gloomy and rained a bit. Another view from the top of Queenstown Hill. Basket of Dreams sculpture near the top of the trail.
After the hike we went for a drink at Below Zero ice bar. The bar served only Belvedere vodka drinks. POLSKA REPRESENT!!! Even the glasses were made of ice.
Glenorchy Valley walk was very pleasant. I felt like I was on the set of The Sound of Music.
Part of the trail. Beautiful views. Lupin flowers were everywhere in the Central Otago region.
Vlad getting strapped in before the jump. Right before the jump. Photo by AJHackett Bungy
Here I am ready to paraglide. We got to the top of the mountain where the pilots/instructors were monitoring the wind. Unfortunately they decided it was safe not to fly that day. Some other company still flew but on hand gliders. Lucky.
Good bye Queenstown! We will miss you.
Again, I am blown away by the photos. I think this is my favorite Airbnb of your trip thus far. That's like the place they use to make puzzles out of, or super organic butter and milk labels... damn! Not to mention that the alpacas and sheep have stolen my corazthon... ahhh!!! <3 @vladdy - awesome bungee shots. @edu - forget paragliding, do bungee jumping in Asia!
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