How much adrenaline can you fit into five days? That's what we asked Mitch Dann as we handed over a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass and set him off to Queenstown. No stranger to adventure, Mitch dove headfirst (no, seriously, head first) into his trip, and survived to tell the tale.
Before we jump into Mitch's tips for how and where to spend your money in Queenstown, let's cover some destination basics.
South Island, New Zealand.
Flights leave daily from most Australian cities. Prices vary based on seasonality, getting more expensive during Winter and Summer. Expect to pay anywhere between $200 (excellent deal) to $1000 (ouch) for flights to Queenstown.
Summer: December to February. Long, beautiful days.
Autumn: March-May. Leaves start to turn, and things become more relaxed.
Winter: June – September. A winter wonderland awaits as tourists enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
Spring: September to November. Ski fields still operate until mid-October depending on the weather and things start to heat up.
Summer and Winter are the most expensive seasons due to the weather and their alignment with school holidays. Travelling outside these days may allow for cheaper accommodation and flights.
New Zealand Dollar. We recommend loading up 70% of your travel budget to a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass and taking the rest as cash. Queenstown is pretty similar to Australia in the sense that the majority of places take cash or card and tips aren't required or expected.
Don't stress if you run out of cash either, our friends at Travel Money NZ have a store right in the middle of Queenstown and are happy to help with all of your foreign currency needs.
What to do in Queenstown?
While in Queenstown, Mitch packed his days with plenty of activities and food. Here are his recommendations.
Hire a car and explore the surrounds
Queenstown is surrounded by a plethora of natural beauty, calling for travellers to enjoy and explore. The Remarkables are world-class mountains, famous for skiing in the Winter and hiking in the summer, and are just 20 minutes outside of Queenstown.
The Wanaka Tree is a popular tourist spot and is located at Lake Wanaka, about one hour of Queenstown. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery while eating lunch.
Finally, feel like you're in Middle Earth by visiting Glenorchy, just 45 minutes north of Queenstown. The stunning countryside is a hiker's dream and is definitely worth the drive out.
Price of car hire: NZD 75. You can use your Aussie license; however, if you're under 25, you will be charged a young drivers fee.
Gondola and luge rides
No trip to Queenstown is complete without a Gondola ride, treating you to unparalleled views of the surrounds (unless you skydive, those views are insane, but more on that later). Once you've arrived at the top, there are a few activity options, including walking tracks, mountain bike trails and a mouth-watering buffet restaurant. Arguably, the most popular attraction is the luge ride down. Hop in a small luge cart and wind your way through a track that, of course, treats your eyeballs to more incredible views.
Queenstown Gondola pricing:
Single Gondola ride - 44 NZD
Gondola + lunch at restaurant - 79 NZD
Gondola + dinner at restaurant - 99 NZD
Gondola + 6 luge rides - 69 NZD (you can choose fewer trips, but this seems to be the best deal)
Queenstown is the home of Bungy jumping and offers adrenaline seekers three different options. Nothing compares to the feeling of throwing yourself off a ledge and free-falling for up to 134 metres. Petrifying? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
NZ Bungy options and pricing:
Kawarau Bridge (the NZ OG) 43metre Bungy - 205 NZD
Nevis Bungy (highest in NZ) 134metre Bungy - 275 NZD
Ledge Bungy (freestyle Bungy) 47metre Bungy - 205 NZD
Conquered the bungee and still wanting more? Why not throw yourself out of an aeroplane at 15,000ft and take in Queenstown's beauty from a completely different angle. There aren't many words to describe the feeling of skydiving; other then it is one of the most exhilarating things you will ever do.
Queenstown skydive pricing:
15,000ft – 479 NZD
12,000ft – 379 NZD
9,000ft – 299 NZD
Tip: Just bite the bullet and do the 15,000ft jump. The extra time in free fall is so worth the money.
After something a bit more laid back? Take advantage of the excellent weather, hire a kayak, aqua bike or paddleboard and head out on Lake Wakatipu to see Queenstown from the water. You can choose to hire and explore on your own or join a guided tour.
Queenstown kayak pricing:
20 min aqua bike hire - 30 NZD
45 min kayak hire – 25 NZD
45 min SUP hire – 25 NZD
Where to eat in Queenstown?
After all of the adrenaline, you'll need some food to fuel up and keep going. Luckily for you, Queenstown's food scene epic, with plenty of options for all tastes and budgets.
As a whole, food is slightly more expensive than elsewhere in New Zealand due to Queenstown being such a popular tourist destination. If you're not keen to eat out for every meal, the city has plenty of supermarkets for you to stock up. Consider eating along the waterfront as well; it always has an incredible vibe - one you wish you could bottle and take hom
Mitch's Queenstown food recommendations
Please note, all prices are in NZD.
Pier – Smashed Avo $24, coffee $5
Bespoke – Bacon and Eggs $24.50, coffee $5
Ferg Bakery – Ham & Cheese Croissant $6.50, Coffee $5
Skyline – Chicken Tender & Chips $14, Coffee $5
Public Kitchen & Bar – Pale Ale $10, Lemon Chicken $29, Potatoes $12
Devil burger – Devil burger $11, curry chips $7
Winnie's Pizza – Garlic Loaf $13.50, Americana Small $17.95, Meat Feast Small $19.95
Pub on Wharf – Chicken Parmigiana + Beer $30
Pog Mahoneys - $25 Deal Burger, Fries, Drink
Ferg Burger - $20.40 Burger & Fries (prepare for a decent line up)
We'll let you decide who the winner is between Devil Burger and Fergburger.