07 – 13 JULY 2015:
Queenstown airport has topped the list of the world’s most stunning airport approaches, and it’s not hard to see why. As the plane approaches Queenstown you can see the most amazing views of mountains, lakes and wild rivers.
Overall first impressions; stunning scenery, friendly people, extremely cold! It was winter in NZ so the cold was expected, but I’m afraid it was not appreciated.
I decided to indulge in a little bit of luxury whilst in Queenstown so I booked myself into the famous 5 star Millbrook resort in Arrowtown village. I had a one bedroom suite in their Village Inn which was really spacious but also very cosy. The bed was huge and so comfortable that I didn’t want to get out of it most days! (It had nothing to do with the cold, I swear!) The resort has a spa with hot pools, golf course, health club and three restaurants. The resort is so large that the staff will happily transport you around in a golf buggy.
The resort is a little out of the way, however they provide a free on demand transport service to Arrowtown and a regular shuttle bus to Queenstown. It was very convenient and meant I hardly spent any money on taxis which is normally my biggest expense.
The staff at Millbrook really go the extra mile for the guests, helping in any way possible and greeting you by first name, which I always like as it makes you feel like more than just another guest.
Their casual dining restaurant (The Hole in One) is very cosy, although the menu wasn’t as extensive as I would have hoped. Despite its limitations, the food was great! I had the nicest salad there, called the Nicoise Salad. This wasn’t the French style I was expecting; instead it was loaded with chicken, bacon, potatoes, green beans and leaves, and smothered in dressing. So not exactly what you might call “low calories” but it was extremely tasty. I didn’t try the other two restaurants in Millbrook, but one is Japanese and the other is fine dining.
‘Cross between a fighter jet and a torpedo – Adrenaline-packed tour of stunning Lake Wakatipu. Sit back in the state-of-the-art cockpit of our semi-submersible shark and get ready to feel the g-forces as one of our expert pilots gives you an experience you’ll never forget. Looking through the F-16 fighter-grade glass you will see the sky disappear as your pilot descends into a dive underwater for 5-15 seconds and then launches the entire 18ft of the shark into the air. We can roll on a 90′ angle, do tight doughnut turns and so much more.
With top speeds of 80 kph on water and 40 kph underwater this ride is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Trips are one-on-one so you can push your own limits flying above or below the crystal clear waters.’
Apparently Queenstown is the only place you can find this particular activity, so how could I not try it?
The experience lasted around 15 minutes and cost 149 NZD for an adult (approx £65), plus the option to purchase photos and a DVD at an additional cost.
It’s like nothing I have ever experienced! Participants are taken out one at a time, and squashed into the back of this crazy machine (for lack of a better way to describe it!) Diving underwater and then shooting up in the air was really fun but I confess to feeling a tad sick at the end from all the motion. It was still a complete thrill that I would wholeheartedly recommend! The only downside is that it was very expensive for such a short ride. In my case, since I was only paying for yours truly, it was a manageable cost; but if I was paying for a family to do it then it would cost a bomb as you pay per person and do it one at a time and I couldn’t see any menton of children’s rates. I think most kids would love the experience though! I know my younger self would have been stoked to go on this!
‘Take a unique breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons, and hold on tight for Queenstown’s only exhilarating full 360° spins and beyond. ‘Can you handle the canyons?’ with award winning Shotover Jet, ‘The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride’ and the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons’
The experience lasted around 20 minutes and cost 129 NZD for an adult (approx £55), plus the option to purchase photos and a DVD at an additional cost.
Another top Queenstown attraction! There are a few Jetboat operators in Queenstown but I was told by many people that Shotover Jet are the company to do it with as they have exclusive use of the best canyons in the area.
Was it scary? Yes! The driver goes so close to the canyon walls that you almost can’t believe they don’t collide. It’s fast paced, terrifying, but mainly just quite fun. I didn’t get any motion sickness during this experience, although as I went on a day that was -4 degrees celsius, my face felt paralysed by the end of the ride, and all movement in my fingers were gone. The only thing that prevented me from becoming a complete Sam-sickle was the adrenaline!
‘New Zealand’s scariest haunted house’
I saw this attraction in the hotel’s magazine and looked it up online. The reviews were excellent and it was rated as one of the top things to do in Queenstown. Even full grown men found it scary and were willing to admit to it! I desperately wanted to check it out, but wasn’t 100% sure it was something I wanted to check out alone. I think this type of thing is much more enjoyable with friends (and it’s definitely not because I was a little bit terrified).
I had made a few friends within the staff at Millbrook resort who offered to go with me, but unfortunately I didn’t have quite enough time to fit it in at that point.
However, it’s most definitely on my list of things to do when I return to Queenstown one day.
I loved Queenstown and I am glad I went there as opposed to Auckland. I definitely plan to return in the next few years, but I will go during their summer time and I will make sure I go with someone! The activities they have there are much more enjoyable when experienced with others. Next time I will also try a trip to the Milford Sounds (often called the 8th wonder of the word) and take the skyline Gondola as that is supposed to also be an incredble experience! Until next time….