Queenstown is a moderately-sized town that (as mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide) feels like a small city. There are far more people walking around the streets at night than you would expect, most of whom I imagine are tourists.
We were hammered with information about all the activities you can do in Queenstown, including bungee jumping, canyon swinging, sky diving, river boarding, jet boating, etc. ad infinitum, and this is essentially what the town is all about. Its main street is lined with companies that will arrange anything that involves almost colliding with something at high velocity. That’s not the reason I came to New Zealand, however, and for me Queenstown was more of an opportunity to relax than to get the adrenaline pumping. Indeed, Queenstown is a very nice town to relax in if you resolve not to almost collide with things at high velocity.
We were told that we should face our fear, by jumping off a bridge at the original commercial bungee site. I accept that I have a fear, and that given the safety precautions taken it’s technically an irrational fear. But there’s just something missing from the argument. Why must we face our fear? Sure, if you’re into that sort of thing then go for it. But this particular fear (of jumping off things) isn’t something that presents a barrier to leading a healthy and fulfilling life. The only door that opens for you is the one where you fork over large sums of money to do it again.
Queenstown does have an underwater observatory, for which you pay $5 to see the really ugly fish that inhabit Lake Wakatipu a few metres below the surface. This is probably the cheapest thing you can do in Queenstown (bar simply walking around), but I’m not convinced it was worth the money.
On the walking side of things, the climb up to the inspiringly-named Bob’s Peak gives you some great views. There’s also a gondola that will take you to the top in far less time, but that’s cheating. The path up the hill is marked with signs pointing to several downhill mountain bike tracks, which are practically vertical in places and will probably take you a little further than almost colliding with things at high velocity. At the top there’s a cafe, a restaurant, a shop or two (I wasn’t really paying attention), a bungee jumping platform and a pair of luge tracks.
The Base hostel in Queenstown does have an irritating policy of locking both the kitchen and laundry at 10pm (in practice, earlier), and any food or clothes you may happen to have in there at the time will be inaccessible until the morning. Thus, on my last night in Queenstown, unable to cook my own food, I popped over the road for a Fergburger. Everyone (almost) raves about Fergburger, and I can report that it was quite nice, but then I’m not a connoisseur.