Queenstown novice Dan Ahwa experiences the resort town's extreme, adrenaline-fuelled activities for the first time.

Queenstown's reputation as an active relaxer's paradise is well-documented and if you're up for stepping out of your comfort zone, this is the place to do it.

The surrounding vistas are enough inspiration to spur you on, whether you're a seasoned adrenalin junkie or just plain curious.

Take for example, a bright-orange shark-shaped water vessel with tiger stripes, zooming around Lake Wakatipu. It might sound loathsome to some, but it's a novelty worth exploring.

Described as the ultimate thrill, the Hydro Attack, launched three years ago, has become a fun, if obscure, addition to Queenstown's myriad outdoor activities. The "shark" can dive two metres under water and jump six metres high, and you're sitting behind a driver with an optional Go-Pro documenting your every reaction; the best of these are shot as you're diving underwater, where you realise just how vivid and turquoise blue the lake really is.


You have 20 minutes on the water, and because of the rapid movement, you'll want make sure you've got a steady stomach. Speed demons in particular will find Hydro Attack appealing, and it offers a unique underwater view of one of the purest lakes in the world.

The FlyBoard experience is another key activity that has become part of Queenstown's more vigorous offerings recently.

Run by accomplished stunt performer Beau Weston (Beau's sister Gemma is current world number one FlyBoard champ), the operation is the first in New Zealand.

During my many attempts to stay upright, I realised Lake Wakatipu's sparking, calm water is the perfect elixir for tired eyes.

It's difficult to drive past the lake and not have a sudden urge to dive in, and the FlyBoard — as well as the Jet Pack experience, which Beau also runs — is a great excuse to spend time in the water (there are plenty of belly-flops and nose dives for the unco-ordinated — you've been warned).

For those wanting to maintain some kind of workout routine, it's a fresh way to do something different that actually makes you work your core and legs, and I highly recommend it to travellers wanting to shake off long-haul jet lag.

In full wetsuit and helmet, I had 15 minutes on the water to pirouette and fly like a bird to my heart's content, though none of this actually applied to my futile attempts.

For something truly extreme, I couldn't leave without jumping out of a plane. It really is the antidote to beating stress.

As one of the traditional Queenstown activities, sky diving is pricey, but worth it for the memorable experience. Set aside a good three to four hours, as you'll be transported from the town centre across farmland to a private airstrip where your adventure will start and finish.

Thankfully, my skilful tandem master Greg Simpson from NZone Skydive was already on his 15th drop that day, so I knew I was in good hands.

For the full package, you'll be joined by your personal photographer/videographer who, along with your tandem master, will be high-fiving and doing hang-loose gestures all the way down with you. There are several choices of heights to fall from (surprisingly, when you're free-falling thousands of feet above the sky for 60 seconds, it doesn't make much of a difference) but you can choose between 9000, 12,000 and 15,000 feet.

Unwittingly, I talked myself into doing 15,000 feet and witnessed the most spectacular 360-degree views Queenstown has; parachuting down to earth with absolutely no regrets.

Getting there: Jetstar flies from Auckland to Queenstown with an average of 14 flights per week.