On our final weekend in New Zealand, we headed south to Queenstown. Our study abroad program was allowed one skip day for the semester, and all of us used it to add onto our last three-day weekend, so we had four days to explore the area. Queenstown is located in the southern region of the South Island, so a flight was required to get there from Wellington (where we were staying). Queenstown is said to be the adventure capital of the world. There are so many activities for adrenaline junkies, from bungee jumping (the first commercial bungee site was here) and paragliding, to white water rafting and mountain biking.
We woke up early that morning, packed, and flew to Queenstown. Everyone was staying in different hostels. Four of us were at the Flaming Kiwi Backpackers’ Hostel. It is in a great location and is only a five-minute walk to town.
After we got settled, we met the rest of our group at Fergburger. The line was ridiculously long, but so worth it! There wasn’t much room to eat inside, so we took our burgers to a nearby park to eat. There were so many people outside hanging out in the grass, picnicking, and enjoying the weather.
We didn’t have plans until later that night, so a group of us walked around town to shop and sightsee for most of the afternoon. The town is so cute and there is a walkway along the wharf where you can watch the boats going in and out.
Dinner was at the Fat Badger, a New York style pizza place. Next was the Kiwi Crawl! The bar crawl included entry to five bars, with a huge group of us making an entrance at each one. The coolest (pun intended) bar was called Minus 5 Ice Bar, where everything is made out of ice, even the cups! They provided big parkas and we enjoyed licking the ice sculptures inside.
Pro tip – If you’re staying in a hostel with strangers in the room, try to not share a bunk with someone you don’t know! As I was getting out of my top bunk, I stepped on the guy’s face that was in the bottom bunk because it was right up against the ladder.
Seven of us met up in town to go canyoning. We went with a company called Canyoning Queenstown. They drove us to the canyon in a shuttle van, and it was a beautiful and scenic drive. They gave us wetsuits and helmets. We hiked to the water and our guide told us to get in. The water was about 45F, so we were not eager to jump in. It was shockingly cold at first, but once the water was able to get into our wetsuits, it created another layer of warmth. After a little while, I was numb but happy.
Throughout our adventure, we did a lot of hiking through the canyon, and then jumping into water. A few of the cliffs were fairly high (6 meters / 20 feet) to be jumping into shallow water. Our day also included abseiling (dropping down using a rope) into the water a few times, and ziplining through the forest. The zipline ended over water, where we unclipped and dropped into the pool.
We got back to town, showered, and headed to lunch at a restaurant called Flame. I had an open steak sandwich, and we sat on the balcony overlooking the harbor.
After lunch, Kaitlyn and I decided to take the Skyline gondola up to the top of a mountain, with absolutely amazing views. From the top, you have the option to either luge down the mountain, mountain bike, or take the gondola back. A few of our friends did the mountain biking (and got hurt because they went on a trail that was very intense), and Kaitlyn and I went luging. It was so fun, and we were able to go a few times. We went back to the hostel afterwards to nap for a bit in the afternoon. We ate dinner at the Heineken Bar. I had a chicken dinner with a Heineken, of course.
On this day, we took the JUCY Coach and Cruise into Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a fjord that is located about four hours from Queenstown. Our coach bus stopped in Te Anu, a beautiful town on the way, and I got an egg and cheese toastie with a milkshake. I was not feeling the best and kept falling asleep on the bus. That was super disappointing because the entire drive was gorgeous.
We stopped at Mirror Lake, which was appropriately named, and the Chasm Walk through the forest. There were gorgeous waterfalls right by the road, that were next to a stream where we filled our water bottles up with glacier water runoff.
Next, we cruised around Milford Sound on a catamaran. We actually went by some of our other friends that were kayaking through the fjord. Milford Sound is gorgeous!! It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We saw a cruise ship going down the Sound and I thought about how cool it would be to do a cruise around here.
We took the boat and bus back to Queenstown. The group ate dinner at Atlas Bar and then went to bed.
We got up early and planned to go paragliding, but the trip got cancelled because of the weather. Instead, some of us went to Devil’s Burger and Cookie Time after. Cookie Time is a huge cookie shop that is a sweets-lover’s dream! They had fresh cookies that I really enjoyed. It was pouring so we took a cab to the airport and hung out there until our flight.
I could’ve spent at least a week in the Queenstown area doing different activities. The entire area is stunning, like the rest of the country. Don’t make a trip to New Zealand without stopping in Queenstown and Milford Sound!