Deer Park Heights, Queenstown
2010 - Update : This venue is now closed to the public permanently. The owners have closed the gates, no longer wanting to run a public facility.
In this town where many activities can be a bit expensive, there is one thing that you can do for just $20. If the weather is nice, you can spend half a day and even take a picnic. Drive towards Kelvin Heights and turn into "Deer Park Heights" where you need cash notes to insert into the entry machine to allow you in. $20 will get a carload in making this a very reasonable "thing to do". There is 5 kms of road easily accessible taking you through enclosures with many different animals including: Llamas, donkeys, pigs, deer, sheep, buffalo and thar. Most of these animals have become accustomed to receiving treats from the visitors, and are quite friendly. For $2 you can buy a container of grain-nuts to feed them. Never, however, feed the animals from your car, and only feed them the supplied grain-nuts. This creates ideal photo opportunities for you. The road is very well maintained and relatively easy to drive, even campervans can cope. You climb quite high giving you the most stunning views in many directions. These views compliment those from the Skyline Gondola, I feel. Up the top of Peninsula Hill you will find two lookout points with carparks. One looks to the West and the other to the East.
WEST VIEW - This is a stunning panoramic view of two arms of Lake Wakatipu with Cecil Peak standing proud in the middle. On a clear day you can see forever, as they say. And on a cloudy day this is still dramatic.
EAST VIEW - Looking back over Queenstown airport and Lake Hayes with Arrowtown with the Crown Range in the distance. You also get a great view and perspective of the Remarkables from here.
I recommend that you not be short of time when you do this trip. However, it can be done in an hour from the ticket gate. But it is far more enjoyable if you can amble along and make a lot of photo stops along the way, taking time to feed the animals.
Depending on what direction the wind is blowing from, you can pick a sheltered side to stop and have a picnic and take in the supremety of the location.
Deer Park Heights is also the location for some movies, "The Rescue"; "Lord of the Rings" and "Wolverine - XMen". Many of the actual locations are marked and the prison from North Korea, in "The Rescue" movie is still standing for you to see. As it is a temporary construction for filming, it is rather unsafe, so is surrounded by a barbed fence. You can get some good photos though.
All in all I had a wonderful time up here, was very fortunate with the weather and truly believe this is one of the star activities of Queenstown. I could easily have spent all day up here!
Between the two lookout points there is a walkway with picnic tables, and more views. I recommend you take the time to do this. You can drive of course, but the walkway takes a slightly different route.
If you don't have a car to use, you can go here with a tour operator, at more expense.