photo of Queenstown

A panoramic view of Queenstown, New Zealand. (ThinkStock)

What to do in Queenstown

New Zealand is known for beautiful scenery and world-class adventure sports. Queenstown, a relaxed resort town set in one of the country's finest mountain landscapes, has enough of both to keep adventurous families busy for months.

The most famous activity here is bungee jumping, but there is also river surfing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and hiking. Jet boating was born here, and pioneering outfitter Shotover Jet still offers white-knuckle speedboat trips on the river. Children will whoop with joy, and a little fear, as the jet boat zooms in waist-deep water right up to a rock wall before pulling away in a spectacular turn at the last second.

Most of these adventure sports are more suitable for older children. More-relaxed family experiences are plentiful, too, with the TSS Earnslaw giving vintage steamship cruises across the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. The Skyline Gondola eases above Queenstown to reach the dizzy heights of Bob's Peak, from which you can see Cecil and Walters peaks and the Remarkables in the distance. A slightly less smooth ride is available on the horses of Shotover Stables, which offers a range of trips into the mountains.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park offers young visitors an engaging nature experience and insights into traditional Maori culture and is the perfect place to wind down after all those high-energy thrills. You'll discover that it's the combination of buzz and beauty that makes Queenstown such an appealing destination and a popular family vacation spot.

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