Whenever we were walking or driving around Queenstown, the twins loved to spot the stretch of mountain cleared for the Skyline gondolas heading up to Bob’s Peak, and on a clear sunny day, I decided to treat them to a ride. We parked in town and then it’s a five minute walk up to the complex. When we got to the ticket office I was a bit taken aback by what a big operation it is (I think I was expecting an old man in a rickety old cabin!), and there was a dizzying array of ticket options to choose from. We went for the most basic – you don’t have to pay for kids if they’re under 5 – and so we bought one adult ticket for NZ$27, about £14 (a return gondola trip).
The gondola travels 450m up the mountain (apparently it’s the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere), with fantastic views as you travel up. The twins weren’t phased at all by the steep drop beneath them (my stomach flipped), and enjoyed pointing out spots they recognised in Queenstown below.
Once at the top, there’s a restaurant, cafe and viewing platform. We grabbed some lunch (not bad value, actually), and took a seat on one of the outdoor terraces to take in the view, which really was completely breathtaking. We knew there was a luge at the top, but I hadn’t quite clocked how you got on it, so we traipsed our way up the steep pathways to the start of the luge run. The sight of people whizzing by on their luge carts upped the excitement levels. Once at the top, we discovered that you had to buy your tickets back down at the viewing platform, and then take the chair lift up to the luge run start so back down we went.
Then we hit two problems. The first was that the luge is for ages 5 and up (at least 110cm high – actually I wouldn’t have been happy for the kids to ride by themselves even if they were old/tall enough). Smaller children can ride tandem with an adult (you pay NZ$2, about £1, for a ‘future luge rider’ ticket plus an adult fare of NZ$11, about £5,70), but one adult can’t take two children, so I was stuck – unable to leave one child while I took the other child down the track. Luckily after a bit of begging, I managed to bag us a ride on the chair lift up to the luge run, even if we couldn’t actually go on the luge itself. Normally it’s only two people per chair, but they bent the rules for me so all three of us could go up.
At the top we found a lovely spot to watch the paragliders fly down from Bob’s Peak to central Queenstown below (the actual launch site was too far to walk with the twins, but we could see them mid-flight). There’s an almost constant stream of paragliders, and paraglider-spotting was a favourite game we played throughout our Queenstown stay whenever we were in sight of Bob’s Peak.
The promise of an ice-cream was all the incentive the kids needed to tramp back to the cafe, and we ate our ice-creams on the gondola back down to the bottom. Once at the bottom we wandered along to the landing point for the paragliders (a school playing field), and the twins were fascinated watching paraglider after paraglider gently come in to land.
All in all, I would say the Skyline gondola offers good value for money, although I can see how the cost could easily mount up if you have older children who are keen to do lots of luge rides. When the twins are asked about their favourite thing from our New Zealand trip, the gondola is often their answer, so it definitely gets the thumbs up from them.
Click here for more things to do in Queenstown when you’re four.