The quiet little city of Queenstown, New Zealand, turns into an adrenaline-pumping, snow-coated adventure land during the Southern Hemishphere’s winter. It wasn't labeled the "Adventure Capital of the World" for nothing. Whether it’s snowboarding, jet boating, sky diving, testing your maniac driving skills, swinging off the edge of a canyon or bungee jumping in the birthplace of this world-famous activity, you’re bound to leave this place with a few extra grey hairs that own a great story.
If a wild adrenaline rush isn’t your cup of tea, that’s not a problem. The town is laced with pubs and restaurants fitted out with the coziest log fires, bars offering world-famous local wines, river cruises along the stunning Shotover River and day spas set within the mountains offering the most amazing views available in the world. Next week, you can add the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour to that full itinerary of activities available in Queenstown.
- Language: English, but that accent will occasionally make you wonder
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($1USD = $1.2NZD)
- Weather: Snow, that’s all you need to know
- Time zone: GMT +12
- Electricity: 240 volts so beware of your American appliances
- Taxi: +64 3 442 7788 – it gets cold waiting on the street in the snow!
The airport is only six miles from the city center, so your Queenstown adventure will begin in no time. The Super Shuttle can drop you directly at your hotel for $15, or for roughly $25 you can catch a taxi.
Once you’re nestled into the city, you’ll notice it’s really not that big, so bring warm clothes and walking shoes and that’s the bulk of the transport you’ll need to explore the bars and restaurants around town. That is, until it comes time to whip out the snowboard or swing off the edge of a cliff. Many of the major activities in Queenstown provide their own transport, otherwise Connectabus is a brilliant service, connecting all major hotels to places such as Frankton, Arthurs Point, Arrowtown, Remarkables Park and the airport.
With so many options, I would usually say that simply choosing which adventures to partake in is the hard part, but being the “never-jumping-out-of-a-plane-type” that I am, I would say there are many more difficult moments involved in your decision-making while in Queenstown. The most important point is, no matter what level of thrill-seeker you are, Queenstown is the place to visit for a great time. Take a look at the following activities for just a small sample of what's available.
AJ Hackett Bungy
The first jump was initiated over 20 years ago with AJ Hackett Bungy in the little Kiwi city of Queenstown. This is not just your basic jump with a rope. They have all sorts of options including swings if you can’t bring yourself to make the dive. Check out the following video for a sample of the jumps you could be doing.
Shotover Canyon Swing
How about jumping off the edge of a cliff that’s over 100 meters high? Swinging out 200 meters and free-falling for 60 of them? As it says on the website, additional underpants are recommended.
Jet boating is said to be one of the most exciting experiences — blasting through the Shotover River Canyons in high-speed just narrowly missing the cliff's edges. This is a great option for those thrill-seekers that aren't quite comfortable with heights!
Break One Clay Target Shooting
This is currently ranked the No. 1 activity in all of Queenstown on Trip Advisor, which seems to have a lot to do with the impeccable service. Head out to the countryside and try the thrill of shooting a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun. They personally guarantee that you will hit a target during your session with full guidance, so it’s perfect for first timers.
Take a 4WD or Quad Bike around the Queenstown Lakes area for a half or full day to discover the stunning scenery. You can even visit the filming location of Lord of the Rings! The Safari of the Scenes is the perfect option for any Lord of the Rings lovers. It's complete with experts guiding you around the spectacular locations throughout your driving adventure.
Onsen Hot Pools
The perfect way to defrost from a hard day of work on the slopes is to unwind in a private indoor-outdoor hot spa that overlooks the stunning views of the Shotover River with retractable windows that can convert your spa from indoor to outdoor. You can watch the sun set behind the mountains with your partner over a bottle of wine, or on the flipside, send a losing prop-better to plunge in the cold pool – not quite a pleasurable activity for the average person, especially when surrounded by snow!
New Zealand is famous for producing some of the best wines in the world, so it would only be natural to dedicate an afternoon or evening to wine-tasting. Right? The beauty is that if you’re pressed for time and can’t head out to the vineyards to sample direct from the cellar doors, then Wine Tastes is the perfect, city-center alternative with over 80 wines on tap. Literally – on tap. Ordering a Deluxe Cheeseboard for $34 to compliment your samples while curling up on one of their oversized couches in front of a fire is the perfect winter escape. Don’t forget the Pinot Noir Chocolate Truffles to top off your visit! Once you leave, you can head back to the SKYCITY Queenstown just next door.
The place to be for New Zealand’s best burgers is Fergburger and luckily for you, it’s right across the street from the SKYCITY Casino, the host of this stop on the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour. It’s open for almost 24 hours a day and is rarely seen without a queue out in front. With an impressive 23,000 fans on Facebook, I’m sure my premonition of a poker room full of $10 “Fergburgers” will stand correct next week!
Voted the No. 1 restaurant with the most amazing views in the world by Trip Advisor, Skyline Restaurant overlooks the Remarkables Ranges, over Queenstown and across Lake Wakatipu to Cecil and Walter Peaks. This restaurant may have a pricey $57 buffet, but there’s just nothing like the scenery to go with your three-or-more plates of random assortments. It’s a must-see while in Queenstown. To access the restaurant, you have to ride a gondola to the top of the mountain. Even if you’re not going to the restaurant, riding the gondola should definitely be on your checklist. For $18, and a little guts, you can effortlessly climb the steepest hills in the Southern Hemisphere, offering just as an amazing view as the restaurant.
If you love finding hidden gems that aren't too far away, then tucked behind the casino is The Bunker, hidden down a back alley. Enter through the rustic old wooden door and take your seat among the crackling log fires to dine on some of the finest, local delicacies complimented with an impressive wine and cocktail list.
For those attending Queenstown for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour, then two party nights have been scheduled thanks to PokerStars. Wild Thyme, inside SKYCITY Queenstown, is the place to be on Tuesday, Aug. 23, for the welcome party, complete with a live band. Barmuda, located between the casino and Novotel, is where we’ll finish it all off in front of a huge outdoor fireplace after the final table is dusted off with a new champion. I guarantee to be holding a Passiontiki or two, the signature cocktail of Barmuda. The Boiler Room is another hotspot in town with music from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and of course, more fireplaces. It's definitely one cozy city!
The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Queenstown Snowfest will be held at the following casino. If you haven't already noticed from the various hotspots mentioned above, the casino is perfectly located in the heart of all of them.
16-24 Beach Street
Ph: +64 03 441 0400
If you won a package on PokerStars, you will have access to book a room in the following hotel, which you should arrange through APPTHotels.com:
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa
8 Duke Street
Ph: +64 3 4500045
After days on end of research, I couldn't be more on edge to get on my flight to Queenstown! I hope you're lucky enough to join us. The PokerNews team will be on the tournament floor each day of the Main Event, so check back to PokerNews.com for those updates or follow @PokerNews_Live on Twitter.