Global Traveler

Queen of Adventure

By Kristy Alpert

I forced myself to look down as I shuffled my way to the edge of Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, the same spot A.J. Hackett launched the first-ever commercial bungee operation in 1988. The couple in front of me clung together for moral support while the singlet-clad stag party behind me bantered about who among them would be brave enough to touch the river on their jump. I, on the other hand, was alone, determined to overcome my nerves and take part in the 34-year-old Queenstown tradition.

A Foo Fighters’ song blared from the speakers behind me as I took my turn on the platform, until the band suddenly went quiet. A power outage on a bungee platform doesn’t do anything but suck adrenaline from the jumper, exactly what it did to me as I was encouraged to jump in silence. With no one to cheer me on, I turned to the boys behind me and begged for support. Mustering up courage, I spread my arms wide and leaned forward off the bridge as a group of soon-to-be wedded Kiwis sang the only song they could collectively come up with, “Happy birthday to you …”.

Adrenaline is woven deeply into the Queenstown experi- ence — dubbed New Zealand’s adventure capital — where immersing yourself in the stunning natural landscape lies just one tour away. Simple forest bathing involves soaring down the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zipline with Ziptrek Ecotours (Queenstown’s first carbon-neutral tourism activity), while exploring Queenstown Canyons takes place on a thrilling (90 kmh) jetboat tour with Shotover Jet. You can walk Queen- stown Gardens, where an 18-basket disc golf course awaits, although you’ll go deeper into the region on half- or full-day hiking trips with the guides at Alpine Luxury Tours. Aerial views are popular in Queenstown, where you can get a view and a sandwich atop Bob’s Peak, accessible via Queenstown Gondola, but booking a heli-tour through Over the Top will have you soaring above the most breathtaking scenic vistas, including Central Otago Wine Region, where you’ll land for some necessary wine tasting.

Alpine Luxury Tours runs private tours throughout the region that let you customize your experience. You’ll travel in comfort as you traverse the land, sky and lakes that make this slice of New Zealand so mesmerizing.

Just like the wines of the region, Queenstown’s beauty pairs best with any tour that gets you out amid nature … whether you choose to plunge, soar, stroll, drive or dive into it is up to you.