Queenstown: Boats, luge, and other forms of transportation

posted in: Down Under 2024 | 0

We had three nights in Queenstown, which was more than enough time to explore the city (or town). It’s really nothing special. It’s a town filled with upscale shopping and a wide range of eateries and drinkeries. It reminded me of some of the ski resort towns I’ve been to, like Whistler or Vail.

But like Whistler and Vail, Queenstown is there as a hub for activities. It is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. (in fact, try Googling “adventure capital of New Zealand.”) Being the adventure seeker that I am, well, I maybe had a couple of small adventures.

Actually, I could have had lots more adventures. Queenstown is the home of bungee jumping. It wasn’t invented there, but the first permanent commercial bungee site is at a bridge just outside Queenstown. I could have done that, but I opted out.

Instead, I walked a lot. There’s a beautiful garden I spent some time wandering through. And our hotel was about a mile from town, so I walked back and forth several times. (The hotel provided a bus pass, but I preferred the walk along Lake Wakatipu.)

Jet boat

As an optional activity, OAT offered a jet boat excursion on the Dart River. The Dart is a shallow braided river that feeds into Lake Wakatipu. We had a scenic bus ride along the lake to get to the mouth of the river, and then we spent about an hour heading upriver at breakneck speeds. It was very fun, and (consistently with the now-repetitive theme of this trip) the scenery was spectacular.

More photos, and a few videos, are in my album.


The other “adventure” activity I did was a luge. This was not actually what I would call a luge, which I think of as a narrow, concave track similar to what Olympic luges or toboggans go down. This was more like a gravity-powered go-cart.

As you can see, the track is fairly wide. You have to steer or you’ll crash, and you have to brake around curves.

To get to the luge, I rode a gondola up the side of the mountain. The views were spectacular. The photo at the top of the page is what I saw when I got off the gondola.

From there, you ride a chairlift up to the top and luge back down. I got three runs, which wasn’t enough. The first run was really just for practice. I was getting a feel for how to control the cart. Kids were whizzing past me.

By the third run I was whizzing past the kids and having a blast. I wished I’d purchased more than three runs.


The group took a trip to Arrowtown, about a half-hour bus ride from Queenstown. This is a small town at a location where gold was discovered in the 1860s. The town has some of the character remaining from earlier times. To me it was reminiscent of the USA’s Old West.

And there are the remnants of a Chinese settlement; many Chinese came to Arrowtown to find gold, hoping to make enough money to bring back and support their families. It was clear that conditions were sparse at best. And the Chinese were treated very poorly.

Three examples of the kinds of shelter the Chinese settlers lived in.

In February 2002 the Government apologized formally to the Chinese community for legal discrimination against New Zealand’s early Chinese settlers.

But my favorite part of the visit to Arrowtown was a walk along a creek behind the town. Have I already mentioned that there is some spectacular scenery?

And what a perfect time of year to be here!

Here is my album with lots more pictures from Arrowtown.


I walked through Queenstown Gardens twice. (In the photo at the top of the page, you can clearly see the Gardens. They make up the Florida-shaped peninsula right in the middle of the photo.) One time I walked through and enjoyed the flowers; the second time I walked the perimeter and enjoyed the views.

Farewell Dinner

Our last night in Queenstown was the last night for nine of our group. Only seven of us have continued on the post-trip extension to the Bay of Islands, in the far northern part of the country (where I am now). So we had a lovely farewell dinner. We boarded the TSS Earnslaw (TSS stands for “twin-screw steamer”) and sailed across Lake Wakatipu to Walters Peak High Country Farm, where we had a really good dinner.

The TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu
Arriving at Walters Peak High Country Farm
Nighttime view

There are lots more pictures from Queenstown. Enjoy!

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