For the nature lovers, thrill-seekers and those in between (like myself), Queenstown, New Zealand is the ultimate playground. In the four days that we were in town, we would collapse into our hostel bunks, our bodies achy and tender from the most physical activity we’ve demanded of ourselves since our college volleyball years. There was so much to do and, as the cliché goes, so little time.

If you could think of anything you had ever wanted to do outside, Queenstown, or the South Island, probably has you covered. Canyon Swinging? Bungee Jumping? Sky diving? Jet boating? Landing in the Frankton valley of the Queenstown Airport, we knew we would spend most of our time outside, however we didn’t anticipate how paralyzed with indecision we’d be when it was time to shell out the cash for activities. With only four days to experience everything we could, here’s how we did it:

  • Day 1: Canyoning — Also known as Canyoneering, this activity crammed every verb imaginable into a four hour trek. We hiked up hills, repelled (or ab seil as they called it)  down mountains, jumped off boulders into fresh-water pools, shuffled around cliff’s edges, ziplined through trees and floated downstream. To call the initial jump into the icy waters invigorating is polite at best. Although the canyoning site was only a 15-minute drive from town, we felt isolated amongst the outdoors, with only the sounds of the water raining into its river pools below and the continuous splashes as each of us (we were a group of 10) leapt off ledges, following suit.
Queenstown Canyoning

Canyoning in Queenstown with, well, Canyoning Queenstown.


  • Day 2: Hiking Mt. Iron, Wanaka — From the base of Mt. Iron in the town of Wanaka, the summit looked measley. Ayanna, my travel companion even mentioned as we began the upward trek, “I thought we’d be doing more actual hiking, not…the paved stuff.” Let’s just say that there were parts of the climb where I felt like my knees were going to scrape the earth beneath us. Yes, I’m short, but my knees don’t scrape the ground meandering the switchbacks in Southern California. At the top, we were rewarded by a watercolored view of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding hills; serene shades of blue and violet.

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  • Day 3: Hiking up Skyline — If we thought Mt. Iron’s incline was intimidating, we were in for one final surprise on our last morning. As two gals who work out regularly and have been subjected to rigorous training as former teammates, it took us nearly 1.5 hours to reach the top. Clearing the wall of trees at the top of the climb made our perseverance worthwhile. I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

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