Queenstown is the action-adventure capital of New Zealand. In winter, it is a haven for skiers, and in summer, the bright sails of paragliders dot the sky above the town. The picturesque resort community lies along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, backdropped by imposing peaks. A wealth of outdoor activities is available, from leisurely lake cruises and thrilling jet boat rides to farm visits, bush walks and backcountry fishing excursions. Queenstown is also a comfortable base for exploring the fjords, including the rugged grandeur of Milford Sound. Day flights can also be made to Mount Cook.
Now just a little over a decade old, The Hills golf course near Queenstown has been the site of multiple New Zealand Opens, and pros rave about the subtle changes in elevation and the downhill tee shots that set up so well.
Jet Boat Rides
One of the most exhilarating and scenic excursions from Queenstown is a jet boat ride down the Matukituki River, winding past glaciers, mountains and waterfalls, some of which you may recognize from the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy. (Helicopter transfers make the excursion especially memorable.)
Central Otago Wine Region
The Central Otago region produces some of New Zealand’s most exciting Pinot Noirs, and numerous wineries cluster between Queenstown and Cromwell. One of my favorites is Mount Edward (34 Coalpit Road, Gibbston Highway RD1; Tel.  3-442-6113), which crafts delicious Pinot Noirs in addition to well-balanced Riesling, Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner. Make an appointment prior to a visit.
The countryside around Queenstown provides excellent horseback riding. Moonlight Country ( 3-442-1240) arranges fine treks with panoramic views of The Remarkables and the Coronet Peak ski area.
A Culinary Delight
Ra¯ta¯ (Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat Street; Tel.  3-442-9393) ranks among Queenstown’s best restaurants. On the seasonal menu, you might encounter wild Otago rabbit terrine with spring vegetables, blue cod with curried Cloudy Bay clams, or venison loin with smoked cauliflower.