This internationally-famous resort town rests on the shores of Lake Wakatipu at the foot of the majestic Remarkables mountain range. Its picture-perfect landscape has been the backdrop of many movies, most recently “The Hobbit” as well as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Activities are abundant for those who want to do more than just admire Queenstown’s beauty. In fact, Lonely Planet New Zealand (16th Edition) has five pages of activities, ranging in excitement-potential from whitewater rafting and skydiving to guided nature walks, cycling, or Frisbee golf.
Here are a few Queenstown adventures:
In 1988 AJ Hackett had this crazy idea to put on a harness with a stretchy rope attached to it, secure the other end to the historic Kawarau Bridge, and then jump!
Well, okay, maybe that’s not exactly how Hackett and his partner, Henry van Asch, invented bungy jumping. But they did start out in 1988 at Kawarau Bridge, and their success rate is remarkable.
Our group, however, chose to watch rather than participate – and even that was pretty exciting! While a wheelchair user would probably not be able to actually jump, they could watch from the accessible upper observation deck (as seen in the upper right corner of the above photo).
On the other hand, four of my travel companions did take the wild 30-minute Shotover Jet boat ride. Billed as a “thrilling ride through the narrow canyons of the Shotover river … enjoy the adrenaline rush as your driver skillfully whips the boat past rocky outcrops and skims around crags and boulders then hold on as the driver spins the boat in the ‘trademark’ Shotover Jet 360 degree spin.”
One caveat: People with back or neck problems might choose not to take this ride, as the “whipping” maneuvers could aggravate the problem.
When I inquired about accessibility, I received this response from the friendly people at Shotover: “Yes it is most definitely possible for someone in a wheelchair to experience the Shotover Jet. Our staff are happy to provide any help they may need during their time at Shotover Jet. There is also a wheelchair accessible restroom on site.”
Skyline Gondola (Bob’s Peak)
The steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, this gondola takes you to the top of Bob’s Peak where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak, as well as Walter Peak and Cecil Peak.
If you’re in a hurry to get back down the hill, you might choose to ride the luge; if you’d rather linger and enjoy the sunset, the Skyline Bar offers an amazing view.Wheelchair accessibility
Carrieanna, with her foldable wheelchair, would be able to enjoy this adventure. Upon inquiry I was told that the gondola operator (at ground level) would stop the gondola so she could get in the car, and then would load the wheelchair in the following car. And, of course, this process would be repeated at the peak.
For those who prefer a more contemplative activity, a walk through the Queenstown Gardens is a lovely way to spend an hour or two. For the most part the pathways are packed gravel and wheelchair accessible. These are only a few of the fair-weather activities available in Queenstown. During the ski season (June to September) winter sports and festivals take the adventure spotlight.