The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand
Otago, New Zealand

Nature and Activities in Otago, New Zealand

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Altitude Adventures

Alexandra

Adventure activities

Alexandra is the unofficial capital of South Island mountain biking and if you’re looking for a guide Altitude Adventures take groups along the track and trails etched into the hills by the hardy 1860 pioneers. Unfortunately, the temperature was below zero when I visited so no bicycle clips for me. But from spring onwards this really is the best way to see the wild, mountainous landscape of Central Otago.

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Dart Wilderness Jet

Glenorchy

Adventure activities

Tucker up with a complimentary Kiwi BBQ lunch, in the company of your very own Southern Man, before being taken on your way to the original back-country jet boating adventure that’s made the Dart Valley world-famous. You’ll weave leisurely through the magnificent alpine valley along the braided course of the river at the foot of the Mt Aspiring National Park. On the way you'll hear tales of Maori legends and yarns of early pioneers before halting at a secluded beach to walk through an enchanted beech forest.

Dart Wilderness Jet
  • Prices: Ex Queenstown: adults $209, children $105. Ex Glenorchy: adults $188, children $94. Family pack: 2 adults, 2 children, 2nd child goes free. Child rate 5 to 15 yrs old, under 5's go free.
  • Contact: Glenorchy Information Centre, Oban Street, Glenorchy
  • Tel: 03-441-0303
  • Fax: 03-442-9940
  • Cel: 027-442-7123
  • Email: info@glenorchyinfocentre.co.nz
  • Web: www.glenorchyinfocentre.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Adventure Junkies

Queenstown

Adventure activities

Adventure Junkies is for people who want, yes you guessed it, adventure, and lots of it. A variety of ways to achieve this are on offer: jet-boating, rafting, heli-biking, bungy-jumping, canyon swinging... the list, my friends, is endless. The difference here is that unlike your average gap-year student, with too much time and too little cash, Adrenalin Junkies is designed for those of us who can't go gallivanting off for months at a time, and who might appreciate decent accommodation of an evening. Under the watchful eye of Russ, a Brit and long-term NZ resident, you will travel with a small, like-minded group of people. Trips last for ten days picking up in Christchurch and dropping off in Queenstown.

Adventure Junkies
  • Prices: From $3795.
  • Contact: PO Box 1858, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-442-5325
  • Email: info@adventure-junkies.com
  • Web: www.adventurejunkies.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Info & Track

Queenstown

Adventure activities

Slap-bang in the middle of Queenstown, this is a booking office/tourism info/ski-hire shop all rolled into one. They have a huge selection of equipment including gloves and goggles, they don’t charge a booking fee and they do offer a wealth of information on anything and everything from local walking tracks to snow reports. I went on a day’s snowboarding package – all my equipment, lessons, ski-pass and transport to and from Coronet Peak for $145.

  • Prices: $145 for a day's snowboarding package.
  • Contact: 37 Shotover Street, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-442-9708
  • Email: adventure@infotrack.co.nz
  • Web: www.infotrack.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Frogz

Wanaka

Adventure activities

“Like a giant hydro slide through the mountains” this is the biggest day out on white water, on sledges! Invented by some crazy French men in the '70s this has become a recognized sport and is great, great fun. Spend the day careering down 15km of the spectacular Kawarau River from the infamous 'Chinese Dogleg' rapid right through to the final portage at the cavernous 'Natural Bridge'. This trip has it all with big grade 4 rapids, big grade 6 portages, big gourmet lunch and small group sizes – you’ll leave as a fully-qualified frog with a big, wide grin.

Frogz
  • Prices: Roaring Meg trip: half day, grade 3+, 4.5 - 5 hrs, $135 pp, minimum age 12. The Gorge trip: full day, grade 4, 9 - 10 hrs, $285 pp, minimum age 16.
  • Contact: Pick up from Queenstown, Wanaka or Cromwell
  • Tel: 0800-443-8244
  • Fax: 03-443-8244
  • Email: reservations@frogz.co.nz
  • Web: www.frogz.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Puzzling World

Wanaka

Arts & crafts

Specializing in puzzling eccentricity, a visit to Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World should only be attempted before wine tasting in the nearby vineyards. Offering the world's first ‘modern-style’ Great Maze, incredible illusion rooms, tumbling towers and a puzzle centre and café, this remarkable business has entertained and amazed visitors of all ages for over 30 years. I particularly enjoyed the tilted house where the displays are normal but your mind is tricked and straightens up the room at the expense of the displays that seem to hang at impossible angles... weird stuff, I left utterly confused.

Puzzling World
  • Prices: The leaning towers, puzzle centre/café and Roman toilets are free to enter. The Great Maze OR the Illusion Rooms are $9 per adult, $7 per child; combination of The Great Maze AND the Illusion Rooms are $12.50 per adult, $9 per child.
  • Contact: Main Highway, 2km north of Wanaka
  • Tel: 03-443-7489
  • Fax: 03-443-7486
  • Email: info@puzzlingworld.co.nz
  • Web: www.puzzlingworld.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Queenstown Garden Tours

Queenstown

Botany & gardens

Vibrant spring, long hot summer or golden autumn – whatever the prefix, all these days provide a perfect backdrop to showcase the gardens on Heather’s tours. Enjoy a restful respite from a hectic holiday schedule to meet, chat and swap green-fingerly tips with some great personalities and their stunning rural gardens, all in the surrounding beauty of Queenstown. If you get the chance, don’t miss spring’s blaze of colour where blossoms, peonies, natives and perennials combine in a riot of flowery hues.

Queenstown Garden Tours
  • Prices: Adults: $115 (2010/2011) pp incl GST. Tours run daily from 10th October to 31st March. Morning tea is included in the price.
  • Contact: 160 George Rd, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-441-3990
  • Fax: 03-441-3191
  • Email: info@queenstowngardentours.co.nz
  • Web: www.queenstowngardentours.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Kelvin Heights Golf Course

Queenstown

Golf

This has to be one of the most picturesque and highly photographed courses in the world. Surrounded by Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu on three sides, its backdrop is the craggy, towering and magnificent Remarkables. The course is not long, but the undulating, tree-lined fairways are tight with greens of a good size and speed.

  • Prices: Non-affiliated players $60. Cart hire $35.
  • Contact: Queenstown Golf Club, Kelvin Heights, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-442-9169
  • Fax: 03-442-8061
  • Email: info@queenstowngolf.co.nz
  • Web: www.queenstowngolf.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Mountainland Rovers

Glenorchy

Guided Tours

‘Must be the most intrepid and magical off-road adventure in NZ’… recommendations don’t come better than this. A fifth generation descendent of the founder of Queenstown, Dick has this whole area not only in his blood but also under the wheels of his landy. Traverse open plains, glaciers, mountain ranges and sheep stations on one of his hugely entertaining trips. Comfort is supreme through wind, rain or shine and there’s a billy in the back for cuppas and (famous mountain) cake.

Mountainland Rovers
  • Prices: Rees Valley tour: ex Queenstown, adult $159, child $80, allow 5 hrs; ex Glenorchy, adult $139, child $65, allow 3 hrs. Film location tour: ex Queenstown, adult $139, child $69, allow 4 hrs; ex Glenorchy, adult $109, child $59, allow 3 hrs.
  • Tel: 03-441-1323
  • Fax: 03-441-1321
  • Cel: 027-441-1618
  • Email: info@mountainlandrovers.co.nz
  • Web: www.mountainlandrovers.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Dart Stables

Glenorchy

Horse riding

The Glenorchy Valley really feels like Lord of the Rings country (and indeed is), and to gallop through it on horseback is to steal onto its set and experience it for yourself without all those funny costumes and pointy ears. With over 50 happy horses, all levels of experience from complete beginner to lifelong rider can find a steed to suit. Beginners are tutored and encouraged whilst old hands are offered the opportunity to ride to their experience with at least one knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide for every five riders.

Dart Stables
  • Prices: River Wild: 2 hrs riding from $115 pp; Ride of the Rings: 5-hr trip (1.5 hrs riding) from $155 pp; River & Rings: (combo of both) from $245 pp; Day in Paradise: (5-6 hrs riding) from $245pp; Overnight in Paradise: 2-day ride (5-6 hrs riding/day) from $525. pp.
  • Tel: 03-442-5688
  • Fax: 03-442-6045
  • Email: dartstables@glenorchy.co.nz
  • Web: www.dartstables.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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St Clair Beach

Dunedin

Nature & wildlife

Yes, yes, we know… Dunedin is the Edinburgh of the south, and so on and so forth. But the beaches really are quite pleasant during summer or so I’ve heard, St Clair especially. Apparently a lot of people don’t realise there’s a beach there, which is good for those of us who do! And to make matters even better, there’s a saltwater pool which is heated throughout summer. And, when you get peckish, there’s a café with the most munchable pizzas in Dunedin.

  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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College of Natural Therapies

Dunedin

Retreats

I like to think of myself as a well-maintained woman. But why is it that every time I walk into my local beautician's I feel like the progeny of an unfortunate liaison between Cruella De Ville and Worzel Gummidge? Well ladies, help is at hand with The College of Natural Therapies. The antithesis of a clinical therapist’s over-chromed shop, this happy, friendly company set in a rustic cottage easily fits into that overused marketing term: 'off the beaten track'. But more importantly, anyone and everyone will feel at home.

  • Prices: From $30.
  • Contact: 40 Clyde St, Roseneath, Dunedin
  • Tel: 03-472-7347
  • Email: lotuscollege@paradise.net
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Air Milford

Queenstown

Scenic flights

The strange thing about flying in a tiny Cessna 185 ‘Sportscar’ is that, although you’re speeding along at around 200kph, it feels like floating. We crossed the Southern Alps from Queenstown to Milford Sound over rocky pinnacles and freshly fallen gullies of snow flecked with blue glacier ice. The vista was massive, and breathtaking, and very Peter Jackson. I half-expected to see Gimli wheezing away on the mountainside. In true Kiwi style, Air Milford is a friendly and relaxed company and this trip comes highly recommended. Weather permitting of course.

Air Milford
  • Prices: From $405.
  • Contact: 1 Tex Smith Lane, Queenstown Airport, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-442-2351
  • Fax: 03-442-3249
  • Email: info@airmilford.co.nz
  • Web: www.airmilford.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Siberia Experience

Wanaka

Scenic flights

Fly, walk and jet-boat your way through Mt Aspiring National Park. Oggle-friendly window seats are guaranteed on stage one as you fly over miles and miles of mountain. 25 minutes later you’ll be on a nature walk through the Siberia Valley reaching the Wilkin River in time to catch your (jet boat) ride back to where you started. This is one of those ‘best-kept secrets’ that people rave about - a real extravaganza of a trip, great value for money and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Not to be missed. (P)There is also a helicopter option which is far less weather dependent.(I)

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Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights Wanaka

Wanaka

Scenic flights

Skip the traffic and visit Milford Sound by air. On the way there, it’s a wild wilderness of glaciers, snow, rugged mountain, acres of rain forest, an undiscovered wonder-world that can only be appreciated from above. Take in vast chunks of Mt Aspiring and Fiordland World Heritage Parks and the 3030m-high Mt Aspiring en route to the Sound. Here, you can catch a cruise or just soak up the grandeur before heading back via a different route past the Sutherland Falls. First-class in every way, the scenic route is the only route worth taking. Window seats for all passengers.

Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights Wanaka
  • Prices: Milford Sound: adults $380 - $420, children $230 - $270. Mt Cook and glaciers: adults $370, children $145. Mt Aspiring and glaciers: adults $210, children $92.
  • Contact: 48 Helwick Street, Wanaka
  • Tel: 03-443-4385
  • Email: flights@lakewanaka.co.nz
  • Web: www.southernalpsair.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Otago Central Rail Trail

Clyde

Walks

Tie up your boats, saddle up your horse or pump up those bicycle tyres to retrace the route of the former Otago Central Branch railway line from Middlemarch to historic Clyde. Fairly new to the tramping ‘scene’, those in the know rave about this 3-7 (depending on speed and mode) day journey that’s steeped in a sense of history and remoteness allowing you to gaze at scenery the highways never reach. To top this, it has also preserved, largely intact, the railway line - an important part of the area’s heritage.

  • Prices: For information on accommodation, facilities and services contact an i-site branch in the area.
  • Contact: Alexandra Visitor Centre, Centennial Avenue, Otago
  • Tel: 03-448-9515
  • Fax: 03-440-2061
  • Email: alexandra@centralotagonz.com
  • Web: www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Walk to the Skyline Gondola and Restaurant

Queenstown

Walks

This is a steep but hassle-free walk that's guaranteed to turn your cheeks rosy red – just don’t get lost like yours truly! From Shotover St, turn right onto Brecon St and you will come to the gondola station. There is a walking track on the left-hand side which takes you on a steep incline through pine forest. The views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu are pretty special and I’m told the gondola ride down is fun, though unfortunately I never made it! The restaurant was closed when I visited as well, but I’m inclined to believe the website’s boast that this is 'the best spot in Queenstown to watch the sun go down!'

  • Prices: Gondola Price: $20.
  • Contact: Brecon St, PO Box 17, Queenstown
  • Tel: 03-441-0101
  • Fax: 03-442-6391
  • Email: gondola@skyline.co.nz
  • Web: www.skyline.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Otago Highlights

  • Spend an afternoon on the Otago Penisula outside Dunedin where you'll come across impressive royal albatrosses, rare yellow-eyed penguins and noisy (and rather stinky) sea lions.
  • Wander through the streets of architecturally rich Dunedin and, after noting its uncanny resemblance to parts of Edinburgh, grab a great cup of coffee in one of the many cafés for which it is now famed.
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