Queenstown, NZ: The Adventure Capital of the World and Backpacker Haven

by Brian Carroll on May 9, 2012

Post image for Queenstown, NZ: The Adventure Capital of the World and Backpacker Haven Among a number of great destinations in New Zealand, Queenstown was one in particular that I was looking forward to checking out.  I had heard very good things about the town from other travelers and if I had an appetite for adventure sports, there's a pretty good chance I'd get my fill there.  A sample of activities in the area include bungee jumping (invented here), skydiving, canyoning, white water rafting, canyon swings, zorbing, mountain biking and skiing (in the winter) just to name a few.  Additionally, because the town is a point of destination for most travelers in New Zealand, the nightlife is a bit more lively - something I saw as a good change of pace from the smaller countryside towns for a bit. On our drive towards Queenstown, we made a couple stops at some notable waterfalls and in the town of Wanaka (like a mini-Queenstown from my understanding),  which happened to be having a well-known annual air-show that day.  Additionally, since Nuria and I had left Abel Tasman, we'd been in touch with Mariella, whom we met out there.  It so happened that she was hitching a ride down in the same direction that day, so we made plans to meet in Wanaka and travel down to Queenstown as a group. Arriving into Queenstown, I was very much impressed by the scenery.  The city ran adjacent to a central lake (Lake Wakatipu) and presented an inspiring backdrop with the Remarkable Mountains overlooking the city and an abundance of trees currently partaking in the autumn color transition.  Furthermore, the town itself while not very large, was bustling, and reminded me of touristy ski resort towns.  In all we spent three days in the area taking a break from constant travel to relax and have a bit of fun - the bars don't close til 4 and as it was still Easter holiday for people, there was a lot going on.  A couple random highlights: 1) Fergburger: Coming into town, this hamburger shop was packed with a line out the door that pretty much never dissipated throughout the day.  I actually ended up going there 2 different times in 3 days and it was well worth it.  I believe this is the only location, but it is a must-eat in the area and comparable to an IN-N-OUT in the states (in terms of demand and quality), though I still have to side with IN-N-OUT for overall value...admittedly I've had multiple cravings for IN-N-OUT since I left.

View from Botanical Gardens

2) Running and Exploring the Waterfront:  We caught a few beautiful days and with it tough sometimes to get into an exercise routine on the road, I made it a point to get out and run in the area to explore parts of the city I might not otherwise see. 3) Meandering the Shops and Meeting Up With Travel Friends:  The city-centre of Queenstown is pretty small and very walkable.  Between wandering the side streets and meeting up at cafes with some previous travel friends, it provided a relaxing way to spend downtime. 4) A Couple Nights Out on the Town:  We had a couple very fun nights out that went well beyond my US bar stamina (i.e. 2 am).  At one point, I found myself in a random apartment after the bars at 5am with Nuria (Spain), Mariella (Uruguay), two fellas from Argentina, two from Chile and me.

Me, Mariella & Nuria in Queenstown

It was one of those random moments that I found funny and surreal, hanging out with all these people from Spanish-speaking-countries and speaking to them in Spanish...well, sort of.  And on that note,  one thing I found out about myself is when I combine:
    Practicing my Spanish w/Spanish friends + Having Drinks at the bar w/Spanish friends  I talk to EVERYONE in the bar in Spanish the entire night, even if they don't know me
And yeah, I realize with this being the adventure capital of the world, I don't have much to share on that front - I was quite content passing on things like skydiving for now

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nuria May 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

Yes! Queenstown was a beautifull but crazy city… Was so funny to see Brian speaking every body in spanish, even that anybody could understand him…and I dont know how but that night every body suddenly could say something in spanish. Was the best party in New Zeland!

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