Mention Queenstown to anyone who has been there and see a strange glint come into their eyes, usually followed by a wistful, faraway stare as they watch personal playbacks in their mind.
The famous Queenstown Fergburger
In a land full of adventure, mountain cloaked, lakeside Queenstown deservedly earns itself the title of adventure capital which gives you some idea of what you might find here. Adrenalin junkies flock from all corners of the globe to take their pick of countless scary things to do. Whether you want to throw yourself out of an aeroplane, hang off mountainsides, float over soaring peaks or high speed it along the river, you can find an activity to match your particular desire…and several things you may never have thought of.
The presence of a giant, 360 feet high canyon swing was in fact what brought me here myself (think a cross between bungy jumping, skydiving and human catapult and you’ll be getting the idea). Travelling at great speeds up, down or along (or a combination) seems to be the order of most days and screaming like a girl is almost obligatory in Queenstown although being a girl, I of course have a great excuse.
There’s always a buzz about Queenstown but this year sees it super charged as the region celebrates 150 years of European settlement which means there’s a whole lot of partying going on. People came here originally when gold was discovered and most of the towns in the area, including Queenstown, started out as goldmine camps. The focus of much of the celebrations of heritage and history take place around Labour Day weekend during 19 – 22 October 2012. Period costume parties, gold panning championships, historical exhibitions and beard growing competitions (your guess is as good as mine!) are just the tip of the iceberg.
But there is also another birthday celebration during October which means Queenstown, always a fun place to be, is going to be party central. The 18 October 2012 marks exactly 100 years since the iconic steamship TSS Earnslaw made her maiden voyage and the century since has seen her daily ferrying her way back and forth across beautiful Lake Wakatipu. New Zealand’s oldest working coal-fired steamship has carried Queen Elizabeth across the lake and deserves the week long party being thrown in her honour. Special lake cruises, period costumes, first sailing re-enactment, food, drink and entertainment will all be part of the itinerary. (Check out www.tssearnslaw.co.nz for full details of dates and events.)
All Aboard for a memorable day out aboard the Earnslaw steamship
One of the things I love most about Queenstown is that it gives me choice – the best of both worlds. One minute I am there right amongst it, mixing with the hustle and bustle of down-town cafés and bars (open at virtually any hour of the day or night) but a five minute drive takes me where civilisation feels far, far away and I’m surrounded by some of the most breath taking scenery anywhere on the planet.
Queenstown has that remarkable capacity for being whatever you want it to be. Sure, many people come here for bungy jumping, skydiving, abseiling, paragliding, skiing, white water rafting … but Queenstown has many faces. There are also cultural, art and heritage trails to follow and Queenstown and neighbouring Gibbston Valley are home to 75 wineries – at latitude 45° south, the most southerly grown and produced wine in the world.
If you are in need of pampering you can soak in hot pools, visit day spas or, if you really can’t make up your mind, combine pampering with a wine tour. I’ve not done that one yet but it’s next on the list, it will make a nice change to do something which doesn’t result in terror and screaming like a girl. See you at the party.
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