One of the many reasons that our region is world-famous: adventure! From the lakes to the tops of our mountains, there's a bucket list activity around every corner. So what are you up for? Mark Morrison of Wildwire Wanaka and Trent Yeo of Ziptrek Ecotours have compiled a list of their must-do's.
Alright guys, besides Wildwire and Ziptrek, what are your suggestions for someone who wants an adrenaline rush?
MM: Something that is really amazing is Wanaka Paragliding. Flying over the waterfalls in West Wanaka is just incredible.
TY: Well, here in Queenstown, there’s pretty much everything that you could possibly imagine and more. There is basically a smorgasbord of activities - from mild adventures to wild adventures like your classic swings, jet boat rides and gravity based attractions – there’s even a mechanical shark. Yup, Hydroattack is a jet ski powered underwater shark! In terms of self-guided activities, we have downhill bike parks, single track and mountain bike trails, to rock-climbing, skiing, mountaineering and multi-sport adventure racing. We are known as the home of adventure for a reason.
What if someone is looking for a low-key activity? What would you suggest?
MM: Walking anywhere! We are so blessed with just so many incredible walking options, and it costs nothing! Enjoy nature with the family. There is nothing better.
TY: I love to go for a spin on the Queenstown Trails Trust tracks with my daughter. The views at every corner are amazing - not just your nice view scenario, but unbelievable. We are so lucky to live here. The network is extensive and you can easily ride a full day, visit a café or winery along the way, stop in at your local store or just keep riding into the night (make sure you don’t have your 3 year old with you if you do that).
What kind of activity would you guys recommend for a rainy day?
MM: Probably the hardest question to answer. But we are lucky that there aren’t too many rainy days. My top choice is to head up to Makarora and go for an incredible bush walk (it never rains in the bush, just drips!). There are a number of amazing bushwalk options. Then head to Makarora cafe, sit in front of the fire and enjoy a hot chocolate.
TY: Well, outside the saying is, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ and the fact that this place is epically sunny a lot of the time, even in winter… there are actually lots of things to do whilst a cold front fills the lake. Like grabbing a hot chocolate at Patagaonia and taking in the beauty of Lake Wakatipu.
A rainy day drive to Glenorchy to see the top of the lake is a goodie, and while you’re at it you can visit Camp Glenorchy, recently acknowledged with the Living Building Challenge Petal certification, which is a rare and highly sought after sustainability certification – think best in the world! Venturing out that way, you can also stay in the cutest little EcoScapes cabins in Kinloch and enjoy a rainy day hot tub soak outside…yes please!
What about one that the whole family will enjoy?
MM: I absolutely love paddling out to Ruby Island on Lake Wanaka. It’s a quick, easy high impact adventure. The freedom on the water is lovely. And the walk around the island is stunning. Then, upon finishing, you are right in town - prime for an ice cream at Black Peak Gelato or a beer at Lake Bar!
TY: Kiwi Birdlife Park is a gem. Their story starts as an old cleaned up dump area, turned integral rescue and breeding facility of our native birds. They have one of my favourite fauna, the ancient tuatara. Of course, the new kiwi enclosure is pretty epic and is also a favourite.
What’s an under-the-radar activity you recommend?
MM: In the winter, sampling the fun up at the Snow Farm is certainly under the radar and a really super fun day out. Summertime, I would say renting a bike and exploring the West Wanaka bike track and swimming at the hidden beaches. Afterwards, Rhyme and Reason off Ballatyne Road for the superb craft beer selection.
TY: E-biking never felt as good as when you ate up a mountain trail with Shay at Ride To The Sky. He will take you on an adventure through exclusive locations on purpose built e-bike tracks, plus he’ll match the tour to your needs and I can guarantee you’ll hear a couple of great stories along the way. If you happen to catch him on the right day, you might even see him rocking out at a venue in Queenstown playing in the local band ‘MOJO’!
What’s your one absolutely-cannot-miss must-do in the Queenstown Lakes region?
MM: Wildwire Wanaka, of course!
TY: I think everyone who comes here should take an adventure out on the water and take a look back on our little beauty of a town. The Earnslaw is the obvious and great relaxing choice, but a KJet blast, QT Sea Kayaks adventure or even a coffee on Perky's is a must-do. Get out on the lake people!