As our lockdown levels went down, we were finally able to explore a lot more in Queenstown (as well as day trips we’ve already covered). We even ended up staying about a week longer than we “needed” to in Queenstown as we had so many activities that we wanted to do. In the end we stayed in our Queenstown apartment for 74 nights!!
It was interesting to see *how* things opened up too. During level 3 (which still was quite strict) a cycling company managed to do contactless rentals. We ordered online (including providing our sizing information, etc) and they locked the bikes + helmets to a railing near their office, where we picked them up. We kept them 24 hours and got new views of the walking/biking path we’d been using daily.
Level 3 also meant we could drive within our local area for exercise. We went back to Bob’s Cove and also walked around part of Lake Hayes. Both were lovely autumn days with pretty foliage and nice temperatures.
Level 2 meant even more things were able to open including the local gondola to the top of a mountain, and a “mountain luge” up top. The kids loved the luge and we went back 3 different days. The third time it was “busy” meaning sometimes there were 1-2 families in front of us. We learned that during normal times the line to go down is so long people give up, something like an hour wait!
A local mini golf was open as well as the bird park, where we got see real kiwis! Unfortunately no pictures are allowed, nor would they really turn out. Since kiwis are nocturnal the park keeps them in large indoor habitats where the keepers control the light. They adjust it so the birds think day is night and thus they are active for the tourists. Most of these kiwis are returned to wild successfully so apparently no harm done.
Jetboats are a New Zealand invention, designed to navigate shallow rivers where a conventional propellor-driven boat can’t work. A jetboat can run full speed in less than 4 inches of water! They make excellent tourist experiences, and the Queenstown region is home to several jet boat companies. Sadly several of them are still closed due to the pandemic. Steve found one operator running in Level 2, and took Nate out for a ride. The boats are engineered for excitement. The boat had a 450hp Chevrolet engine that could get the boat up to 60mph. They also handle very well. The driver used these capabilities to great effect, getting within inches of the riverbank and performing 360° spins. Later in the week Steve took Jack out for a ride as well. Pictures don’t really tell the story – hopefully the videos below work for you!
We also got to walk more around downtown and saw some of the few older buildings.