If you arrive late in the evening like we did, drop your bags off at the hostel/hotel/apartment and head to Coalfire for a huge feast. If you’re feeling up for the challenge, get the share plate – it’s totally worth the price when you get to sample the lot.
Relax. Do your best to not go too hard on night one and end up in hospital…
We took a stroll along Lake Wakatipu just outside our accommodation. We actually ended up walking the whole way into town, where we stopped at Vudu Cafe – which is overpriced – but serves up a delicious soup.
If you’ve got a hire car, take it for a drive up to Glenorchy. Warm those frosty hands up with a nice cup of hot chocolate at one of the cafes in town.
If you see Storm the dog playing in the park, give him a pat.
Time to hit the slopes. Get up bright and early and head to Cardrona Ski Field. It’ll take about 2.5 hours (including the time it takes for first-timers to put snow-chains on 2wd vehicles).
Handy tip if you’re hiring gear: we hired our gear off Quest. They must have been super rushed when I went in to get my bindings fixed, because they put them on duck-foot. Not ideal for a first-timer who literally has no idea how to snowboard – let alone identify that the feet aren’t supposed to be that way. Anyway, if they’re rushing, take the time to make sure they’ve got your gear fitted correctly.
Get up early again, this time head to The Remarkables – give yourself a change of scenery.
If you’re a beginner (like myself) The Remarkables have much more space to practice. When we went to Cardrona we had white-out conditions, so I might not have actually seen everything they had to offer (apparently heaps better for advanced ski-hounds), but there was certainly a heck of a lot more room for newbies at the Remarkables.
Now, you should check the weather forecast in advance, but on day 3 or 4, book yourself in to go bungy jumping.
Here’s a bit of advice – don’t bother spending the money on the Queenstown Ledge or the Kawarau Bridge, just go for the Nevis. For that kinda money, you’re better off free-falling for eight seconds, not just three.
Coming from someone who’s terrified of heights, I had zero regrets (after hesitating for 1 min 45 seconds) once I jumped from the Nevis ledge. It was by far the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done – and I’ve been skydiving, quad biking, attempted to learn how to ride a dirt bike, and many other goose-bump inducing activities.
If you do choose to jump off the Queenstown ledge, check out the Luge afterwards. If it’s winter, roll up a few snow-balls and practice your aim on the green helmets rolling below – that’ll help while away the long wait in the line.
After an adrenaline-filled three days, you deserve a delicious steak and guinness pie from Pog Mahone’s. Hands-down the tastiest pie I’ve ever eaten in my life. The best part? They’ve got a toasty open fire-place inside the pub.
Depending on what time you need to fly out, this is your last day. Savour every second of it. Consider booking another flight back in the Summer if you haven’t already been.
If you’ve got more time and more money, head to Wanaka for the snow, go hiking to Ben Lomond Peak, and hike to the top of Queenstown Hill. For once, we literally took a vacation (and enjoyed every single minute).
What’s your favourite thing about Queenstown? Let me know in the comments below!