Fear and Feasting in Queenstown


Fear and Feasting in Queenstown

Queenstown is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Locals seem to spend their time devising an ever-increasing range of gravity-defying, heart-pounding activities. Aussies are adrenalin junkies and Expedia’s travellers get their fix in Queenstown on a 4-5 day trip.

Whether you get your kicks in the air or on the water, one thing is for sure – an adrenalin rush is a great way to work up an appetite. Here’s our guide on how to thrill all your senses.

Taking the leap of a lifetime

Nicknamed the ‘home of bungy’, Kawarau (a 20-min drive from Queenstown) is the site of the world’s first bungy jump, devised in 1988 by the father of fearlessness, AJ Hackett. Entrust your life to a length of elastic, count to five and plunge head-first towards the river from a 43-metre-high ledge. If you’re looking for a little reassurance before you leap, check out the Secrets of Bungy Tour. Hankering for more? The spectacular Nevis bungy site has a dizzying 134-metre-high platform suspended on a cable that traverses a gorge. We can feel our stomachs flipping just thinking about it. As the valley floor comes rushing towards you, console yourself with the thought of the great views as you’re winched back up to safety.

Where to feast: Whether you screamed all the way down or gallantly threw yourself off the Nevis without breaking a sweat, you’ll be feeling pretty proud of yourself. Stop in for a Mr Big Stuff burger at the legendary Fergburger (42 Shotover St). Half a pound of prime New Zealand beef topped with American streaky bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce – it’s a hearty feed after a heart-stopping adventure. Sleep it off at Breakfree The Waterfront, just a few blocks down the road.

Soaring through the air

One of the best ways to take in Queenstown’s surrounds is from the air. Make like an eagle and soar high above the mountains on a tandem paraglide or hang glide – Coronet Peak has some of the highest launch sites in the area. And if you’re looking for a more sedate but equally exhilarating experience, hop into a hot-air balloon basket and rise majestically above the valleys, rivers and lakes between Mount Aspiring in the Southern Alps and Mount Tutoko in Fiordland National Park. Sunrise Balloons live up to their name with breathtaking dawn flights, and even better, a glass of champagne at touchdown.

Where to feast: If you aren’t ready to come back down to earth just yet, catch the Queenstown gondola up 450-metres to the top of Bob’s Peak – it’s the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere so you’re pushing boundaries even on the way to dinner. At the top you’ll find the Skyline Bar. Its 220-degree panorama views are the perfect spot for a sundowner.

Swishing down the slopes

With one of the longest snow seasons in the Southern Hemisphere (early June until early October) and six varied ski areas, Queenstown has a slope for every family member. Zig-zag down the easy tracks at Cardrona or take on the black diamond runs at The Remarkables. Skiing and snowboarding aside, embrace the white stuff with a range of (slightly) less daredevil activities. Cut some shapes on the town’s ice arena with a figure-skating session, explore quiet forests on a snow-shoeing trek, or hop on the back of a snowmobile for a James Bond-style drive through the wintry landscape.

Where to feast: Round off a day on the slopes at Les Alpes (16 Church Street), channelling a European après-ski vibe with freshly baked pastries for breakfast and classic French dishes in the evenings.

Embracing the life aquatic

With a name like Shotover River, it’s fair to assume an afternoon on the water in Queenstown is about as far from a gentle paddle downstream as you can get. Roaring water, dramatic drops and hurtling speed are the order of the day. Tackle grade-five white water rapids with a half day Queenstown Rafting Tour, where you’ll don life vests to paddle through the 170-metre Oxenbridge Tunnel and the Cascade Rapid, or let someone do the hard work for you and jump on Skippers Canyon Jet for 360-degree turns and top speeds of 80km an hour.

Where to feast: A wide-eyed, adrenalin-pumping adventure is always a bonding experience, and if you have made some new friends on Queenstown’s wild and rough waters, enjoy a communal feast at Rata (43 Ballarat Street). This new restaurant from Masterchef judge Josh Emett serves larger cuts for whole tables to share so you can swap stories of your brave adventures over roast crispy skin Canter Valley duck or braised Silere lamb shoulder.

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Helen and Nic

About the Author Helen and Nic

Having eaten their way through Europe, America and Southeast Asia, photographer and writer team Nic and Helen set up Sharking for Chips and Drinks when they moved from London to Melbourne in 2010. Charting Melbourne and regional Victoria’s coffee shops, bars and restaurants openings, they also regularly return to their beloved London and keep a keen eye on the latest foodie trends and openings all over the world.   3 travel must haves? An iPod loaded with great podcasts, a decent camera – we love our compact dSLR – and a good sense of humour.   What's on your travel bucket list? Touring Japan’s hidden izakaya (sit-down sake shops serving yakitori and sashimi) and island-hopping off the coast of Sicily, feasting on arancini and fresh sardines, and drinking plenty of Nero d' Avola.

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