The Visitor Information Centre
The place where you can book everything in Queenstown is the Visitor Centre. There are even two offices at the intersection of Shotover Street and Camp Street, located diagonally opposite each other.
Most of the major tourism operators have offices in this area, especially in Shotover Street which is parallel to Beach Street.
Phone +64 (0)3 442 4100
Fax+64 (0)3 442 8907
Address: Clock Tower, Cnr Camp and Shotover Streets
Beside the i-site, in the first floor of an outdoor sportshop, is the office of the Department of Conservation (DoC) where you can get some free and purchase other maps. Although it is a bit of moneymaking to charge NZ$ 5 for a trail map of the walks around Queenstown, you get valuable - and free - info at the desk. It should be your first port of call if you plan day walks or multi-day hikes in the area.
This is Queentown’s main shopping, restaurant and pub street and pedestrian zone.
They have tried to create a relaxing atmosphere with good indoor/outdoor flow, with nice seating areas on decks on the level two of the small two-storey buildings, and little granite and greywacke walls around the bench seats in front of the houses. The street really invites to stroll around and do at least some window shopping, if not the real shop till you drop…
However, it is not spectacular, just nice. But a relief after digesting the disappointing general architecture.
As Queenstown attracts a lot of rich people, it has a great selection of good and luxury shops, not just cheap souvenir stuff, from world-famous fashion brands to jewellery.
Not being one for hard out adventure sports I have to admit that I haven't tried this but I had plenty of fun watching others! Paragliding is a sport whereby you run off a hill/cliff with a parachute on your back and paraglide to the ground.
In Queenstown there is more than one place that offers this however probably the easiest one to access is Queenstown Commercial Parapenters located at the top of the Skyline Gondola. They offer tandem jumps and heli-jumps also. They will supply all the equipment. $185 is the cost and that will get you a tandem jump plus some pictures of the jump.
An Evening Walk on the Shores Lake Wakatipu
In the summer Queenstown does not get completely dark until around 10:00 PM. A fun thing to do in the semi dark early evening was to walk the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It was a pleasant walk and the view of the Queenstown lights reflecting on the water was a beautiful sight!
Skippers Canyon: Not only Scenery is breathtaking
This sensational canyon which is accessed on an even more sensational road (see extra tip under Warnings and Dangers) is a place of outstanding beauty, and the drive more than just exciting. I would say, it is not for the faint-hearted, not for people with fear of heights, or with bad driving skills, and people not used to drive on such steep gravel roads with lots of hairpin bends and without safety barriers. One mistake and you are dead.
When the truck you are in meets an oncoming truck – and I really mean truck! – you will understand what I mean.
As a tourist travelling by rental car you are forced to go on an organised tour as rental cars are not covered by insurance on this particular road. And if you encounter the above mentioned scenario you also understand why.
As already mentioned in my writing about the Shotover River, Skippers Canyon is the steepest and narrowest part of the Shotover River which once was the world’s richest river regarding the relative amount of gold found in the 19th century.
You can book a Skippers Canyon Tour with Nomad Safaris and Skippers Canyon Adventures (http://www.skipperscanyon.co.nz/). They are the experts. However, the drivers can scare the hell out of you LOL I think they enjoy this.
Skippers Canyon Adventures also offer combos with jetboating in this part of the Shotover River. The 4WD tours lead over the historic suspension bridge, opened in 1901, and to the former gold mining town of Skippers which once had a population of 1500 and today of about… nil ;-) Imagine, two months after the bridge was finished the famous Bullendale Mine closed! The gold rush had ended and the miners left.
The LoR tour takes you only part way down the road – but already this gives you a great impression of the canyon.
If you travel in your own car, from what I have seen you are better off in a 4WD but you can also drive on the road in a normal car in good weather conditions and if you drive carefully and slowly. Remember, the slightest mistake can cost your and your passengers’ lives, as there are no safety barriers, and the drop down the cliffs would be uninterrupted. It would be a vertical fall.
The goldfield remains of Bullendale and Skippers are protected. You can see the restored schoolhouse, the Mt. Aurum homestead, a cemetery, old stamping batteries and terrace sluicings.
You will also find a camping area with water and toilets. From there you can do a lot of hiking to former gold mining sites, and along Skippers Creek, one leading to the remains of the Bullendale Mine. There are even huts where you can stay, as Duncan’s Hut and Dynamo Hut. Best you contact DOC if you plan to visit this area, and get detailed maps.
You access Skippers Road by heading out north from Queenstown on SH 6 (Gorge Road) towards Arrowtown. After Arthurs Point and Edith Cavell Bridge (next to the base of the Shotover Jet) you turn left, following the sign to Coronet Peak. Half way up to the skifield, the Skippers Road turns off to the left.