If outdoor adventure is your travel goal, Queenstown, New Zealand, 300 mi/480 km southwest of Christchurch on the South Island, is the place to go. Scores of well-equipped and experienced adventure-tour operators there do a good job of organizing activities for you, and the scenic beauty of the surroundings will satisfy even idle vacationers. But before strapping on your bungee cord, take the Skyline Gondola above Queenstown for a wonderful view of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range. (The Remarkables are particularly beautiful at sunset.) Before heading back down, try the luge track a couple of times.
For even bigger thrills, try bungee jumping off a bridge over the Kawarau River on the road toward Lake Wanaka. Once you've done that, you'll be ready for other aerial adventures, such as hang gliding or parapenting (a maneuverable parachute). Choices when it comes to jet boating or white-water rafting are available on the Shotover, Kawarau and Dart rivers. The Shotover River has narrow canyons, so it probably offers the greatest thrill value. Opportunities abound for canoeing and kayaking, as well.
For less of a white-knuckle experience, take a walk through Queenstown Gardens or a cruise on the lake on the old steamboat Earnslaw (it's been operating since 1912). Other options include fishing, horseback riding, four-wheel-drive safaris, an excellent golf course and, in winter, excellent snow skiing at nearby Coronet Peak or the Remarkables, as well as at Cardrona and Treble Cone—one or two hours away, respectively.
For a day trip, drive to Arrowtown (an old gold-mining camp with an excellent museum and several greenstone factories) and then over to Lake Wanaka for some fishing. Macetown (a mining ghost town, accessible only by foot, bike or horse) is another option, or closer to town, Glenorchy (at the head of Lake Wakatipu).
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