69. The most extreme things to do in Queenstown
From skydiving and jet-boating to hiking and biking some of the most spectacular and dramatic landscapes in the world, New Zealand is synonymous with adventure: here is No. 69 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Iconic Queenstown boasts spectacular backdrops from mountain high to valley low and beyond. Combine this fantastic natural playground with a raft of brilliant adventure companies, and you’ve got a mecca for thrill-seekers that’s known the whole world over. Here are just a few ways to push your limits and blow your mind.
AJ Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge Bungy is the world’s original bungy jump base and the classic spot for knocking off the big bounce, located in a rocky gorge close to Queenstown. The jump here measures a mere 43 metres over the swirling blue waters of the river below, which looks totally doable until you’re actually harnessed in and on the edge. The spectators assembled on the viewing deck will no doubt egg you on, and there’s always the incentive of some wine tasting at the cellar doors just down the road to soothe your nerves once you’re done. Serious adrenaline junkies should head to AJ Hackett’s Nevis Canyon where the fear factor goes next level. The excitement builds from the minute you board the 4WD Bungy Bus in downtown Queenstown for the ride out to the remote and wild Nevis Canyon. Choose from a trio of ridiculous antics, or better still, do all three. The Nevis Swing is 300 metres of scream-inducing swinging: forward, backward or upside down. The catapult is a bit more dramatic, giving you up to 3Gs of force as you’re propelled 150 metres across the canyon. But the ultimate buzz is the Nevis Bungy, a 134-metre, 8.5-second freefall from a glass-bottomed cabin suspended on a wire over the canyon.
Blending sightseeing with an adrenaline rush, a jet boat trip will tick two boxes on your Queenstown wish list. For a grand day out, drive along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to glorious Glenorchy where you can hop on a jet boat trip with Dart River Adventures. Its two-hour tour takes in jaw-dropping mountain scenery as it heads up a broad, braided river deep into the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park, where you’ll hop off the boat for a short walk in ancient beech forest. You’ll hear all sorts of stories along the way, and experience a fair bit of spinning and swooshing as the boat navigates the channels and rapids.
For a refreshing, feel-alive activity, it’s hard to go past whitewater rafting. Fortunately, this happens to be a Queenstown classic, with a range of trips offered on the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers, both within half an hour’s drive of town. Challenge Rafting runs a popular Grade 4–5 trip on the Shotover, a river boasting buckets of natural and human drama along with six rapids and a spooky tunnel in between calmer waters where you can leap in for a swim and hear stories from the gold rush days. Challenge Rafting also runs a fabulous full-day adventure on the Kawarau River combining jet-boating and rafting. A friendlier option for first-timers and families, this Grade 2–3 trip heads under the historic Kawarau Bungy Bridge and through the winery-lined Gibbston Valley before finishing with the long and super-fun Dog Leg Rapid. Challenge Rafting launches into action in November.