- New zealand
3 Days in Queenstown, New Zealand
Following up from a few laid-back days in Wanaka, it is time to head to Queenstown for a dose of adventure. Queenstown is considered the adventure capital of the world and I could see why. Any extreme sports or activities humanity could endure, it is invented and made available here. From going down a track with a luge to plunging from a moving plane from 15,000 ft above the town, you can do all that in Queenstown. I had 3 days in Queenstown and these were what I did:
New Zealand Travel Video
It only took me 2 hours to hop on a bus from Wanaka to Queenstown and there it was, the Remarkables.
This guy knows how to chill! It was a little windy that day and I ended up just walking around Queenstown and getting ready for a big day the next day.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
That night I stayed at the Adventure Queenstown Hostel, the best hostel I stayed in New Zealand by far. They provided me with free towels, GoPro and iPad rental, unlimited free wifi, quiz and movie nights, very well located and best of all, they have plugs with USB sockets for every single bed in their dorm rooms. Something so simple yet not many hostels in New Zealand managed to provide you with such a convinience. Staying in the AQ hostel will cost you 28 NZD per night. This was the view from their kitchen.
Hiking Ben Lomond
The next morning, I woke up early and walked to the start of the trail to the summit of Ben Lomond up north. I had the option to either take the gondola up half way or walk 45 minutes in a forest to the gondola and continue on. Of course, I went for the walk. It was beautiful with lush green forest and no one to bother me.
After I approached the Gondola, I walked through a small valley passed another forest and arrived in the open area with a view of the mountain range. The weather did not look promising but I continued anyway.
After walking for 2 hours, I was at the ridge overlooking Queenstown. Many people turned back since they believed it would be too windy at the summit. Me and another Danish guy decided to go on hoping the weather would be nicer as the day progressed.
The weather did not improved but I had come to expect the weather in New Zealand to be unpredictable anyway.
I stopped on the ridge for a lunch break. I prepared myself a few sandwiches for my hike that morning and I devoured all of them in seconds.
The journey continued.
It was a long, cold, wet climb. The rain started to pour down lightly. The rocks were slippery and I did not have my trekking shoes on as I thought it would be a piece of cake to climb Ben Lomond with my normal shoes.
After 2 hours of climbing I finally reached the summit safely. The Danish guy was waiting for me in the cold.
It was a full blown shower when I was up there but it was worth it. The scenery was stunningly beautiful especially with the rain turning the whole mountain range dreamy and atmospheric.
The rain was starting to slow down but we were too cold to wait for it to clear up.
After a few minutes at the summit, we met a group of Germans ascending the summit in the rain as well. The thing about mountaineers is the ability to smile and laugh in all situation, easy or hard. I remember, we were laughing because I claimed the first Asian to arrive that day, since the summit was dominated by Germans.
It doestn't matter if it was raining or not. The experience of overcoming the challenge is what kept me smiling.
And as you guessed it, the weather started to clear as I was getting down.
The weather changes so fast in New Zealand, the weather forecast has no power there.
The clouds were clearing at the summit. It turned out to be a much better day than I thought.
Since the sun came out, I decided to rest on the ridge for an hour just to appreciate the view more. It is easy to forget to appreciate the view when you are busy climbing.
Can you believe that this photo was taken on the same day as the previous ones? Nuts!
Here was a group of humans for scale. This is the reason why I love mountains so much.
Going down always seem to be faster than going up. I guess it is because we now know where to go and what to expect.
After conquering Ben Lomond, I decided to grab myself a southern swine burger from the famous Fergburger place in Queenstown. Highly recommended especially after a long hike like that. They also have a bakery where you can get a nice warm croissant and a flat white to go as well.
Attempted to Skydive (Failed)
Before I went to bed the previous day, I decided to book a Skydive ticket from the hostel for the next day. I thought it would be fitting since it would be my birthday and no celebration fit me more than jumping off a moving plane at 15,000 ft high.
I was so excited but I also knew that it is very weather dependent and you know New Zealand, the weather is just unpredictable especially in the South Island. And as you guessed it, it was way too cloudy the next day, and I ended up doing absolutely nothing. I did have a great time watching a movie at the hostel though so there was that.
Since I had to go to Te Anau the next day and meet up with my friend Ashley (whom I met in Rotorua) to do the Routeburn track together, I was left a little heart broken.. but I did not sweat. After the Routeburn track, I would be back in Queenstown again and that would be my last chance to accomplish my life-long goal.
And that ended the first part of my experience in Queenstown. Next up, we will see what it is like cruising through the Milford Sound on a clear day (for once!) and why it is worth all the hype. Stay tuned and look out for the second part of my time in Queenstown where I finally did jump off the plane!
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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