unfortunately, even though in queenstown there is an array of adventurous activities to take part in, they do tend to come at quite a steep cost. not overly expensive compared to what you might expect, but definitely a lot for a working girl on a budget with three days and a long list of things to do. (that would be me in case you didn't pick up on that).
luckily, i had drinks with my old flatmate a few nights before i left town, and she gave me a good recommendation from her own budget-conscious (and probably even a little fear-of-heights conscious) repertoire of activities. "when you're in queenstown, definitely take the gondola up to the top of the mountain and do the luge," she said. "every time i'm in queenstown i do it - it's cheap and it's fun because you get to go fast and it's not too scary." sold.
i arrived in the city at about 11 am to find out that i was getting a room upgrade at my hostel from a dorm to a private room for free (yes!) but that the room wouldn't be ready for a couple hours (no!), so i had to find something to do right away. i have a habit of binge eating at the airport (i can't resist their array of snacks) so i wasn't hungry, and i wasn't exactly feeling like booking a bungee jump right away, so i decided to head up to the gondola/luge to check it out.
skyline gondola - queenstown.
taking pictures to occupy myself from a panic attack.
i took the gondola to the top of the mountain and purchased two trips on the luge, which set me back about $38. if you think that's expensive, come over to NZ for a few weeks and your whole perspective will change.
despite the fact that i had to breathe deeply being alone in a tiny metal box hanging from a string going up a very steep mountain (sense my tension?), the view from the top was amazing! queenstown has beautiful scenery, particularly for a "city," as it surrounded by steep mountains and shimmering lakes. sigh - how poetic.
view from the top - right side (couldn't give you a compass direction)
and the left side.
incase you need to see an example of of cable car, after riding in an actual cable car. it makes sense.
these pretty much have nothing to do with anything else, other than that they were sold in the cafe at the top of the gondola and i found them hilarious.
after spending a little time roaming around the top of the mountain and taking about 400x of the same photos of the scenery, i headed over to the entry to the luge. my best explanation of the luge is a small plastic go-cart type vehicle with bicycle handle bars that you drive down a track around the edges of the mountain very quickly. and for anyone who has been on one - no i didn't lift that from wikipedia, i'm just that good at writing definitions.
of course the scariest part of propelling down a mountain, cutting around steep corners so as not to fly off the edge, and hoping not to hit anyone else on the track in a tiny vehicle with no helmet would be the chairlift ride to the top. perfectly rational fear. in my defense, it was really steep and pretty shakey and i'm pretty sure their safety record isn't 100% clean.
chairlift headed up to the start of the luge rides.
bird's eye view of the start of the chairlift/the end of the luge.
unfortunately for you but fortunately for me, i don't have any photos to share of me on the actual luge. this spares me not only the $12 per photo it cost, but also the humiliation of posting photos of me on tiny hills, gritting my teeth, and breaking as hard as i possibly can to avoid getting any air whatsoever. made it down both the "scenic" route as well as the "advanced" route keeping my purse successfully in my lap and my life intact, so seems to me like i did a pretty alright job on the luge.