Although New Zealand is my next door neighbour, it has taken me 29 years to make it there. My destination of choice was Queenstown - after seeing photo upon photo of this magical place, where everyone says it looks photoshopped in real life, I had to go.
Over the next few days, I will be going over my time at The Remarkables, Wanaka and my food recommendations, but for this post, I'll be talking about the Skyline and Ben Lomond Track.
If you're staying in Queenstown, it is so easy to get to the base of the Skyline Gondola. It's on Brecon Street which is just outside of the town centre - you could walk there and it would only take 15 minutes max. I decided to get the premium Gondola and lunch combo which was $95 per person. The premium ticket guarantees you a window seat in the restaurant and a free drink (more about the food in an upcoming post).
After taking the Gondola up, you can start the
you can go up to the viewing deck to take some snaps. There's also a Jelly Belly store, souvenirs and a cafe if you haven't opted for the lunch at the restaurant. If you're game, there's also bungee jumping (New Zealand is the home of this!) and a giant swing. I did only watch from afar, but it looked like a ton of fun.
You could also walk a bit further and do some paragliding if that's what you're after but for me, I went straight for the Ben Lomond track.
You can also start this hike from town without taking the Gondola if you want even more of an adventure. From the point I started from, though, it takes approximately 5 hours return however, due to the weather conditions (snow and ice), I couldn't do the full trail.
It starts off under the trees and then opens up completely to the full view of Queenstown. Just when you thought you saw it all at the Skyline, you get to this point and every point after that is just as breathtaking as the last.
If you decide to go in the winter, make sure you wear hiking boots - and if you plan on going the full distance, bring some spikes too. I didn't have the latter and the return trip took about 3 hours. It was the first time I had ever hiked in snow/ice and it was exhilarating - challenging, fun and beautiful.
For a little extra adventure, head back to the start of the Skyline Loop track and then follow the signs for paragliders. This will take you up to another point where you can get 360 degrees from way up high. Once you see the runway, walk about 100 metres further and you will reach the destination. It's well worth the view!