After the ups and downs of my tour I was really looking forward to some down time at my sister’s in Queenstown. Visiting Tanya was what sparked this whole trip in the first place and I was excited about spending quality time with her in her new home. When I saw the view from her house I knew I’d made the right decision to spend two whole weeks here!
Tanya was working during the day so I had to keep myself entertained. Now, most people would say it’s near impossible to run out of things to do in the adventure capital of the world, and they’d be right – if one had an unlimited budget. Most of the activities on offer carry a hefty pricetag! Kayaking, paragliding, wakeboarding or parasailing all cost over NZD100, skydiving and bungee jumping both well over NZD200. Here are 10 things you can do in Queenstown without breaking the bank:
1. Climb Queenstown Hill
One of my favourite days was spent hiking up Queenstown Hill to the Basket of Dreams – a metal sculpture big enough for about 5 people to sit in, overlooking Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. I spent about 3 hours lying in the basket reading Spud (I snagged a copy of this well known South African novel for 50c in a charity book shop) or chatting to the people that joined me in the basket from time to time.
2. Stroll (or run) along the Frankton Path
I picked this as my 10k running route as it a) is a beautiful stretch running right along the lake and b) is the flattest path I could find in Queenstown – on one of my shorter runs I tried to run up the hill to my sister’s place and nearly died. We’re talking 10% gradients!
3. Relax at the spa
My sister treated me to an evening at the Nugget Point spa, where we enjoyed 2 hours access to the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and heated indoor swimming pool. As Tanya arranged this I don’t know how much it cost but she did mention they run good deals from time to time, something to look out for.
4. Do a cycling wine tour
We had our own bikes so just needed to arrange transport to and from the Gibbston Valley area. Tanya did her research ahead of time so we took advantage of the free wine tastings (took me right back to uni days in Stellenbosch!) and packed our own picnic lunch. We visited Gibbston Valley Winery and cheese stall, Peregrine Winery and were on our way to Brennan Wines when a large hill got in our way and we decided to take a nap in the afternoon sunshine instead.
5. Spend an afternoon reading a book in a cafe
Vudu Café is one of Queenstown most popular cafes, and rightly so! They have excellent coffee, all their food on display looks delicious (try the raspberry and white chocolate muffin!) and they have plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the lake. A coffee and muffin will only set you back NZ$9, and as long as you’re able to concentrate over the hustle and bustle it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours with a good book.
6. Join the free walking tour
While you’ll find one in just about every city in Europe, turns out free walking tours have only just caught on in NZ – this one started only 8 months ago but I found it really fun and informative. Our tour guide, Mark, is a 3rd generation Queenstowner (true locals are as rare here as true Londoners in London!) and he did well to keep a tour going for 2.5 hours given how tiny Queenstown is! The free beer tasting at the end is a nice touch.
7. Go out for an inexpensive meal
While Queenstown has a large fine dining scene, good deals are still all around. The steaks at Atlas (NZD19.90) are exceptional, on par with meat in Namibia and South Africa (in London you’d have to pay well over £20 for the same quality). A Fergburger is only NZD11.50 and will definitely fill you up. Even fine dining can be affordable – Rata (belonging to NZ Masterchef judge Josh Emett) does a 2-course lunch menu for only NZD28.
8. Build a puzzle
Ok, this one’s not for everyone, but I hadn’t built a puzzle in years and it’s a great way to pass a cold rainy day! I picked up this puzzle at a bookstore for NZD8 and built it with a beautiful view of Queestown while still staying nice and toasty indoors. Plus, having only 9 items on this list was seriously messing with my OCD, so here it is: #8, build a puzzle.
9. Meet up with travel buddies
I took my friend Kayleigh (who I met sailing in the Whitsundays) to Vudu Café before heading up the gondola for NZD6 luge rides with a view (my sister lent us her annual pass which got us discounted luge rides). When my friend Stella was in town we went for drinks at CBC (NZD5 drinks all night) before trying Devil Burger (Fergburger’s main rival) and deciding Ferg was a clear winner.
10. Splash out from time to time!
This is the adventure capital of the world after all, and it would be a crime to leave without splashing out on at least of the the adrenalin-filled activities the tiny town has become famous for. For me, it was always going to be the Nevis Bungee, the third highest bungee in the world. Read about it in my next post, I think it deserves it’s own place in my archives!