When you think of Queenstown, New Zealand, what comes to mind? Let me guess… bungee jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging… Am I close?
This small mountain town has established itself as an adrenaline-pumping mecca for thrill seekers worldwide. It abounds with adventure activities from those previously mentioned to mountain biking, paragliding, speedboating, flyboarding, and much more.
That’s great if you’re adventurous and like the feeling of your heart trying to escape through your throat.
Then there are people like me.
I would rather keep my feet firmly on the ground. I prefer soft-adventure activities like hiking, kayaking, or sightseeing. Anyone with me on that? If so, you’ll probably also enjoy these non-extreme things I found to do in the adventure capital of New Zealand.
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Things to Do In Queenstown for the Less Adventurous
Free Walking Tour Queenstown
Get the lay of the land by doing this 2-hour free walking tour early during your visit. Your tour guide will be a Queenstown native, fully versed in the history of the city. You’ll get the full Maori origin story, plus the history of the early farming settlers, the mining boom, and the highlights of present-day tourism. Between the talks about history, you can stop for samples at Cookie Time and two local breweries. The tour guides are always great sources of suggestions for the best places to go for dinner and nightlife as well.
To go on this tour, meet the guide at 10:00 am or 2:00 pm by the Fallen Soldier Memorial Archway on Marine Parade. Look for the person with a bright yellow t-shirt. No reservations needed, except with a group of 10 or more. Cash tips are not mandatory, but you’ll want to show your appreciation for such a fantastic tour.
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Take the gondola, the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere, up the mountain to Skyline Queenstown. With a variety of activities to choose from once you reach the top, your visit can last into the night.
First, take in the 220-degree view of Queenstown and the Remarkables from the viewing deck. Enjoy a snack from the Market Kitchen Cafe outside at a picnic table. Spend a couple of hours exploring the gift shop or the Jelly Belly Store. Walk one or two of the short, nearby tracks, ride a cart down the luge (more on that below), or catch a Maori Haka performance.
Then, as the winds pick up later in the day, move indoors to the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar. Have dinner or a cocktail and watch the sunset fade into twinkling city lights. Wrap up your day-long Skyline Queenstown visit with stargazing.
Buy combination packages for all offered activities at the base.
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Luging at Skyline Queenstown
While you’re at Skyline Queenstown, let gravity do the work while you steer your cart down two different tracks, rounding corners at top speed. Make sure to smile for the camera as you fly by! Once you’re done luging, you’ll have a chance to review and buy the photos as a souvenir.
The luge is the most adventurous thing I did while in Queenstown. I was a little nervous to even do this, that’s how much of an adrenaline junkie I am NOT. To my surprise, though, I had such a great time doing it that three rounds weren’t enough!
Choose the number of turns you’d like and combine them with the gondola ride, and many of the other activities I mentioned above, for a discounted price.
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Give in to the Ferg’s Fad
If you don’t know about Fergburger before you get to Queenstown, you definitely will once you arrive. I noticed the line out the door from the bus when it first pulled into town. Then I heard people at the hostel talking about how Justin Bieber recently ate there.
That’s exactly how they became a staple of the Queenstown food scene, by word of mouth. However, the quality and value of the food speak for themselves. The most expensive sandwich on the menu is about NZD $18 (USD $13), and it would fill me up at least three times over.
Their sandwiches are an above-average size and come with all the fixings. Choose a sandwich made with your favorite meat, they have them all – New Zealand raised beef, lamb, deer, pork, and chicken. For the non-meat-eaters, fish, tofu, and falafel options are available as well.
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All sandwiches have clever names, like Cockadoodle Oink, which is what I ordered (since I don’t eat red meat), Little Lamby or Mr. Big Stuff. Be prepared to drool over the menu. Don’t let the line stretching down the street deter you. Unlike all other New Zealand businesses, it’s open 21 hours a day. So, get there at non-peak hours and the wait will only be about 20 minutes.
Besides burgers, Ferg’s has a bakery that goes by the name Fergbaker. They serve meat pies, the popular New Zealand snack, as well as other pastry treats. And it doesn’t end there! Head over to Mrs. Ferg for brunch, or Mrs. Ferg Beach Street for a gelato to enjoy lakeside. Three meals in one day (and even some snacks) could be from Ferg’s if you really wanted!
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Do you know of other things to do in Queenstown that are perfect for less adventurous visitors? Let us know in the comments below.
By Brittany Quaglieri