Skyline Queenstown- Gondola and Luge

It’s my last day in Queenstown and while I’m having breakfast at the nearby Starbuck’s I’m thinking about hiking to the Skyline via the Tiki Trail to have a view and checkout the luge which sounds like a fun ride. I already had a day of rest after the Routeburn track and the legs are ready for more. I walk towards the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown which is also the start of the Tiki Trail via the Hammy Track.

On the way I encounter iFly an indoor skydiving place. There’s a woman offering a free indoor skydive if you can toss a tennis ball into the helmet she has laid out. You get 3 tries and I only hit the helmet on the third try. However they did have free viewing so I checked it out.

I was happy just to watch for a little bit for free but not so interested in actually participating, I had decided to spend some money on the Gondola ride up then take the Tiki Trail back down.

Just prior to reaching the Gondola ride I spot a Kiwi park. There’s a path down to a shop where you can by tickets. I hadn’t actually seen a live Kiwi bird yet. I thought the tickets where a little pricey so I continue with my the plan for the Gondola ride. Sometimes you just need to be selective.

There are several Gondola ride combo options but I chose the Gondola with 2 Luge ride options for $61 NZ (about $40 USD).

gondola ride, view from the bar, world map made of jelly beans

At the top there is the Stratosphere restaurant which stops serving lunch at 1:30pm and it’s now 2pm. But there is a bar and cafeteria both with great views that are open. As I head up to the cafeteria I see this map of the world made entirely from jelly beans with the caption ‘Bean around the world’. I’m thinking I would love to re-create this someday when I’m settled.

I slowly make my way up to the luge area after scouting the gift shop and thinking I should do this first then have some lunch. I took a look at the track from the viewing point and get myself excited to do this.

You need to read the signs for instructions and safety. There’s no one guiding you on what to do. I look around and see a helmet bin, grab a medium blue helmet and head to the lift entrance. Once there someone watches and makes sure you get in the chair lift properly. After exiting chairlift to the top of the Luge start you wait in line, when you’re next to go there’s someone who gives you a luge and some brief instructions on how to handle the luge, then you’re off.

It was a fun ride down, there are two paths a blue and a red. You do the blue one first, then your ready for the red one. I thought it was fun but 2 rides was plenty, I’m glad I chose the 2 ride only option.

I’m ready for some lunch and head to the cafeteria. I get a slice of pizza, a lemony soda called Frank and a slice of cherry vanilla pistachio cake which was absolutely scrumptious and moist. I enjoy this with a nice view of paragliders passing close by. I also get a call from an old friend in New York who was wondering where I was and what I was doing. We had about a 30min conversation after my call intro was “I’m on top of a mountain in Queenstown New Zealand” and it’s 3:30pm tomorrow. It was 9:30pm yesterday for him.

I spend a little more time simply enjoying the view from the top and watching paragliders go by. I’m tempted to do this on such a clear day but I’m over budget for this month and still would like to take the Tiki Trail down.

I begin to look for the Tiki trailhead about 5pm and find it near the Zipline zone. It’s says 1-hour to the bottom of the Tiki Trail.

I take this trail quite leisurely because it’s has such great views and flora.

Foxtail flowers and red toadstools

With many stops for pics and some chit-chat with people ascending it took me about 1.5hrs to reach the Gondola station at the bottom. The Hammy track portion of this trail is quite rocky and with uneven footing. You really need to watch your footing here.

It’s only a few blocks from my hostel but I’m feeling hungry again and start to look for a place to eat. I stop at Searle lane for some pizza e vino to relax and reflect over today’s experiences. After 11 days in Queenstown I thought there was still more to do but it’s time to leave. If anyone says 11 days is too much in Queenstown they’re really not seeing enough. There was still plenty more local hikes to do for free and eateries to check out.

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