24 Hours in: Queenstown
A Local’s Guide to Queenstown
Jodi Narbey tells us how she gets the most out of living in the “Adventure Capital of the World”.
I love that there’s so much more to Queenstown than just bungy jumping. In fact, there’s no shortage of outdoorsy things to do around here or ways to appreciate the incredible views we’re so lucky to witness, even when you’ve lived here for as many seasons as I have.
Jodi says: Little Blackwood, sharing one of their tapas platters on the waterfront.
Challenging hike with great views that doesn’t require a car?
Jodi says: When I have friends visiting from out of town, I usually send them up the Ben Lomond Track – you really get the best lake and mountain views up there! You can start right in town from the bottom of the gondola and just follow the signs for the Tiki Trail. It’s about 3-4 hours up to the Ben Lomond Saddle or 6-8 hours if you want to go all the way to Ben Lomond Summit and back. Don’t underestimate it though. It looks shorter than it is!
Skip the first 45-minutes of the climb through Douglas Fir forest by riding the gondola up (be sure to grab a trail map when you buy your ticket). I can’t wait for you to see the views from the top of the gondola! Keep in mind the weather can change pretty quickly up here though so remember to go prepared with the right gear, stick to the trail and give yourself plenty of daylight hours to finish, so you don’t become one of the tourists that have to be choppered out by Search and Rescue every year… An equally dramatic (but less embarrassing) way down is to arrange a tandem paraglide.
You’re often spotted out and about on your bike. What’s a good local ride with a bit of everything?
Jodi says: I live near the historic Lower Shotover Bridge in Frankton so one of my favourites is to ride from the bridge to Arrowtown and back on the Queenstown Trail. It’s about a 45km loop, so when I’ve got my head down and music on, it takes me around 2 hours 20 minutes without really stopping.
Of course, you’re on holiday so I recommend bringing your camera to take photos of the stunning views along the way. Plan to hang out in Arrowtown and make a day of it – it’s gorgeous and steeped in gold-mining history.
There are several shops in town where you can rent a mountain bike for the day and they will have maps and can point you in the right direction, or there’s an app you can download. It’s not a very difficult ride, but there are a few wee hills so if you’re not that bike fit or just want to cruise along, rent yourself a Charge About E-mountain bike from Alta on Duke St in town, or from the Hilton if you’re staying out there.
From town, you’ll need another hour or so of riding time to pedal along the lake on the Frankton Track, which connects to the beginning of the Twin Rivers Ride. Follow that 7km to the historic Lower Shotover Bridge. Ride across the bridge and continue for another 6km to Billie’s Bridge over the Kawarau. Keep cycling; it’s another 6km to the end of the Twin Rivers Ride and hang a left where it joins up to the Arrow River Bridges Ride. This part of the trail will take you over several more bridges until you arrive in Arrowtown, a charming historic gold-mining town.
Lock up the bike and go for a wander through town or check out the museum before you jump back into the saddle for the ride back. This time take the Countryside Ride back and if it’s a hot day, go for a refreshing dip in Lake Hayes. Another 12km and you’re back at the Lower Shotover Bridge, then follow your nose back the same way you came from Queenstown.
Favourite summer spot in Arrowtown?
Jodi says: The Fork and Tap at the end of the main street. Wash down a venison pie with one of their craft beers outside in the beer garden. You’ve earned it after all that cycling.
Jodi is a 20-year tourism veteran with a mine of information on everything fun there is to do in New Zealand. Aside from working for a stint in London and as a guide on overland safaris in Africa, this Kiwi gal from Timaru with a History degree has hiked, biked, paddled and explored almost every corner of this country. These days, she’s based in Queenstown, where she can regularly get out to hike, ride her bike or snowboard and bring her dog Pipi into the office.
You’re always welcome to call Jodi for help sorting out your New Zealand adventure, or just to hear her friendly Kiwi voice on the end of the line.