Do you know that feeling when your mind stops for a short but decisive moment? This happened to us in Queenstown, one of our favourite places in New Zealand. Spontaneously and without thinking about it, we pulled out the credit card and booked a helicopter flight via Queenstown.
Less than three hours later we tightened the seat belt, put on the oversized headphones and took off. We’ve done a lot of crazy things over the last few years of travel, but flying over Queenstown in a helicopter was one of the craziest experiences ever. Ready for a huge dose of endorphins? Then read on. We will also tell you our best travel tips for the beautifully situated Queenstown and the surrounding area.
1. Queenstown: The spectacular adventure capital of New Zealand Honestly: In our opinion, hardly any other city in New Zealand is like beautifully located like Queenstown. We fell head over heels in love with this spot on our very first trip to New Zealand. The combination of the sparkling blue lake and the spectacular mountain ranges – above all the “Remarkables” – lets us marvel at our earth every time .
Unlike most regions on the South Island of New Zealand, Queenstown is a extremely lively town. Here you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants and in the evenings celebrated in the bars of the city. The small beach in the town center is used by locals and tourists in the summer for a quick dip.
We have already been to Queenstown twice during the New Zealand summer. There were five years in between and we can confirm: Queenstown has become more touristy. And by a lot. You can hear someone speaking German on almost every corner and there have also been more Asian tour groups. It does not matter anyway. For us Queenstown is still one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.
What is special about Queenstown apart from the spectacular nature? Nowhere else do New Zealand travelers look for the adrenaline rush as much as in Queenstown. I honestly don’t know why, but whatever type of extreme sport you’re thinking of, you can try it in Queenstown. With everything from paragliding to skydiving, doing something crazy is almost part of a visit to Queenstown.
The best time to travel to Queenstown We have been so far both times in January, i.e. in the New Zealand summer, in Queenstown. January is typically the warmest month with average daily temperatures of 20 Centigrade. During our two visits, however, we sometimes had up to 30 Degree. As always in New Zealand, the weather is difficult to predict and with a bit of bad luck it can rain for days even in summer.
In the winter (i.e. the months of June, July and August), Queenstown is a popular ski destination. There are several ski areas in the region: For example, you can carve your turns on the mountain range “The Remarkables”. Helicopter flights are also possible in winter.
2. Our helicopter flight over Queenstown The thought of a helicopter flight always gave us tingles in our stomachs. Such a helicopter flight has been appealing to us for years, but we had never dared to do it until that day, when we stood unsuspectingly in the tourist information center in Queenstown. 30 degrees, bright sunshine, no wind – and in the next second it was clear: the day was made for the first helicopter flight of our lives.
So what had to happen happened: Less than three hours later we took off and felt an adrenaline rush, like we had never experienced before. Scotty, our pilot, pulled up, then to the left and maneuvered the helicopter first across Queenstown Airport and then up towards the mountains. The first few seconds of our flight felt out of this world. But it got even crazier: We landed on a godforsaken rocky outcrop in the middle of the mountains. And when we got out, Queenstown was at our feet.
What you need to know about a helicopter flight in Queenstown It There are not only several providers of helicopter flights in Queenstown, but also different types of flights are offered. These vary in the length of the flight, in the route, in the number of stopovers and of course in the price.
Selection of flight and provider We ourselves have an approx. 35-minute flight selected. This was not the shortest variant (which would not include a stopover), but we opted for a flight with a landing in the mountains. If your primary concern is the helicopter flight experience, then we can highly recommend a flight like the one we did. Ultimately, you get great value for money here.
We chose the provider “The Helicopter Line” and the scenic flight “The Grand Circle”. The Helicopter Line offers flights throughout the South Island and made a very professional impression on us. Only the briefing was almost a bit too fast for us. It’s easy to see that helicopter flights in Queenstown are extremely scheduled. As soon as we got down, the next group was already waiting for their flight.
Another supplier recommended to us is “Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters”. On Tripadvisor this company enjoys an even better rating. The flights offered are quite similar in their itinerary.
You can book Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters flight here: Helicopter flight with snow landing
Prices for a helicopter flight The good news: A helicopter flight is not a cheap experience, but it is not unaffordable either. We have for our 25-minute flight about 200 Euro per person paid. And quite honestly: The flight was worth every penny.
If you decide to take a longer flight, then a helicopter flight like this quickly becomes a very expensive undertaking: a flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound beats something like 400 Euro to book.
Seat & Helicopter Unfortunately you are not usually allowed to choose your seat, because the helicopter is loaded by weight. That’s why you’ll be weighed right before the flight. Most helicopters seat two people in the front and four people in the back (in a row). Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to be able to sit in the front. But visibility was also good from behind and even the two thankless middle seats offer a good view because the helicopter is glazed in all directions.
Weather & arrival at the airport Whether you can really take off can only be determined about an hour before say start. Unfortunately, you have to reckon with the fact that a helicopter flight can also be canceled at short notice due to the weather conditions. Most providers therefore want you to contact them briefly before the flight to clarify the weather conditions. A rejection is of course very annoying, but safety comes first and at least you get a full refund.
The airfield from which the helicopters depart is on the outskirts of the city. Most providers (including Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters and The Helicopter Line) include free pick-up from your accommodation in Queenstown.
3. More Activities and Adventures in Queenstown Queenstown Hill We can highly recommend a sunset hike up Queenstown Hill. This is a bit of an insider tip, because almost all visitors take the famous gondola to the neighboring mountain.
The hiking trail first takes you through the forest and then over open terrain in about 1, 5 hours up Queenstown Hill. From the top you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges. Our tip: Be sure to go all the way to the top. Some make the mistake of ending the hike at the viewing platform with the sculpture called “Basket of Dreams”.
You have to
to get to the top. Conquer altitude meters , but we can reassure you: It is absolutely doable – even if you are not too fit. By the way, we waited for the sunset upstairs. So we had to cover part of the way downhill in the dark. But don’t worry: the path itself is not difficult and can be easily conquered with a lamp (e.g. a cell phone flashlight) even at dusk.
Getting to Queenstown Hill Track You can basically hike Queenstown Hill in the middle of Start in Queenstown town centre. To get you the first boring 25 to save minutes through the local area, we would recommend you to drive to the small car park in of Belfast Terrace. drive.
You can find more information about this and other hikes in New Zealand in our blog article: The most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand.
Gondola / Skyline Queenstown The 5 minute ride with the gondola up Bob’s Peak is a must-do for anyone visiting Queenstown. And rightly so – in our opinion: From the viewing terrace at the mountain station you have a wonderful view of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. The valley station of the Skyline Gondola is practically in the center of town. You can easily reach them on foot.
You can pre-book your ticket here: Skyline Queenstown Gondola
A little advance warning: This time we found the viewing platform to be quite crowded. You should definitely be prepared that the gondola is perhaps the most touristic attraction in Queenstown. If you have time, it’s definitely worth getting away from the crowds a bit. A highlight for ambitious hikers should be the Ben Lomond Track, which starts from the mountain station.
By the way, on our first trip to Queenstown a few years ago we didn’t use the gondola and are hiked up Bob’s Peak on foot. For the approx. 42 Altitude meters you should plan a good hour. The path (“Tiki Trail”) starts directly behind the valley station of the Skyline Gondola and then zigzags up through the forest.
Excursion to Glenorchy Those Coast Road, those of Queenstown e along the shore from Lake Wakatipus to Glenorchy, is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world. We don’t want to contradict that. The route is fantastically beautiful. About 45 minutes by car from Queenstown to Glenorchy. It may well have taken us longer. The street is just so picturesque that we would have liked to stop every hundred meters for a photo.
Apart from the beautiful journey, the idyllic place Glenorchy really worth seeing. We were here in the afternoon and spent our time right on the lake shore. The weather was really kind to us that day, so we both went swimming several times. And best of all: the water wasn’t as cool as expected.
4. Restaurants & Cafes in Queenstown Fergburger A institution in Queenstown is the burger joint called Fergburger. For years, guests have been queuing here for the much sought-after burgers. Nothing has changed about that today: If you go to Fergburger at peak time (and especially in the high season), then you have to expect to wait half an hour or longer until you finally get your burger.
By the way, seats are rare – you have to be very lucky. Most just pick up their burger here and then eat it at the nearby waterfront, for example. The menu is unfortunately (or as to be expected) very meat-heavy, but the good news: There are also two vegetarian burgers, which are also available vegan on request. Most burgers are priced between 13 and 15 NZD.
Our conclusion: Even if we keep scratching our heads that we and so many people are putting up with the long wait, a visit to Fergburger in Queenstown is a must easy to. The burgers are truly one of the best we have ever eaten.
Address: 42 Shotover St, Queenstown
Fergbaker Right next to Fergburger is the associated bakery: Fergbaker. Here you can get delicious coffee, croissants, cakes and sweets as well as bread and pies. And best of all: no queues at all – at least most of the time. At Fergbaker we were happy to get either a quick breakfast or a flat white.
By the way, the Ferg empire is found here with the neighboring Ice cream parlor “Mrs Ferg” its completion. Unfortunately, we didn’t test the ice cream, but it’s supposed to be very good.
Address: 40 Shotover Street, Queenstown
Vudu Cafe & Larder Our breakfast heaven! At Vudu Cafe & Larder we had a delicious breakfast in a cool atmosphere. The very popular café is a bit hipster, a bit retro and: usually very crowded. Like almost everywhere in New Zealand, you order at the counter. The oat granola was particularly good.
Address: 16 Rees Street, Queenstown
5. Accommodation tip for Queenstown Finding cheap but good accommodation in Queenstown is not that easy. The prices are rather above average. We spent two nights at the Amity Lodge Motel and were very satisfied.
The small apartments are very spacious and comfortable, if not very modern. The owner is incredibly friendly and always gave us great tips. The motel is fairly central. It was just a short walk 10 minutes to the town center. Parking spaces were also available. All in all, very good value for money and highly recommended.
You can book the motel here: Amity Lodge Motel
6. Onward journey north Queenstown is scenically so spectacularly situated that even the arrival and onward journey is a highlight of the journey.
From Wanaka we recommend you drive to Queenstown via the Crown Range Road (Cardrona). . The route is incredibly scenic. Many travelers stop in Arrowtown. The small, former gold mining town is very touristy, but there is nothing wrong with a short walk.
More than just a short stopover is worthwhile in Wanaka. We fell in love with this cozy place on the lake of the same name straight away. The hikes in the region are also worthwhile, above all the well-known Roys Peak Track.
On the way to the glaciers (Fox and Franz Josef) we can recommend a stop at the Blue Pools along the Haast Pass. A approx. 10-minute walk through the forest and over a suspension bridge leads you to the sparkling blue pool.
Incidentally, we had a rental car for our entire trip to New Zealand, which we booked with Sunny Cars. When booking a rental car, make sure that you do not have to pay a deductible in the event of damage. (This is one of the advantages of Sunny Cars, which is why we are happy to choose this company.)
7. Our travel guide for Queenstown and New Zealand Admittedly, we love printed travel guides and already have three for New Zealand Guide tested.
Lonely Planet New Zealand The classic travel guide from Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand (English) covers all of New Zealand. We found Queenstown and the surrounding area relatively well described. So if you are planning a round trip through the whole of New Zealand, the travel guide is definitely a good choice.
By the way, you can also buy the guide in German: Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand
Lonely Planet Best of New Zealand The Lonely Planet Best of New Zealand (English) is – as the name suggests – exclusively about the really big highlights in New Zealand. This means: Some places are not mentioned at all. Queenstown, however, is represented. On some pages you will find helpful tips. If you are only planning a short trip to New Zealand, then the travel guide might be something for you.
Stefan Loose Travel Guide New Zealand On our first trip through New Zealand (2013) we chose the German Stefan Loose Travel Guide New Zealand decided of 2019 has been published in the new edition. The travel guide has been researched in great detail and is therefore – as usual from Stefan Loose – very extensive and relatively difficult. We have a recommendation – we really like the Loose travel guides.
8th. More New Zealand Travel Reports Our route through New Zealand The most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Lake Tekapo: Our Tips Dunedin & Otago Peninsula The Catlins – New Zealand’s rugged south 2019Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? We got a discount from Sunny Cars for our rental car in New Zealand – thank you very much! Nothing changes in our opinion at all. We have booked privately with Sunny Cars several times (i.e. paid the full price) and have always had good experiences.
Have you ever flown over Queenstown in a helicopter? Do you have any other tips for Queenstown or questions? We look forward to your comment!