As anybody who’s had the pleasure of visiting already knows, Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places one can possibly experience, for myriad reasons. Ice-capped mountain ranges of crumbling greywacke and schist, glacial streams gushing through verdant valleys, and the famous body of water on which it sits–Lake Wakatipu–combine to form one of the most visually alluring towns in the world.
Used in plenty of scenes during the filming of local director Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy, The Lord of The Rings, and again in his prequel trilogy The Hobbit, the breathtaking natural wonders of Queenstown are instantly recognisable to any who have seen the films. The magnitude of the mountains, however, and the juxtaposition of the placid lakes which are scattered across their cliffs and peaks against the turbulent rapids of the Shotover river, is something that needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
And in addition to its status a pretty place to film the hijinks of a few plucky hobbits, Queenstown is also a hotbed of activity for intrepid thrillseekers, who travel from every corner of the globe to jump off anything tall enough to affix a giant rubber band.
The fact that Queenstown is as well suited to adrenaline-fuelled action as it is photogenic makes it the ideal proving ground for a product like GoPro: the little cameras that can, and do, capture fantastic video and still images with a single button-push. With Queenstown providing the backdrop, and GoPro providing the camera, we set off on a secret mission across the southern resort town, with a stack of spare batteries, SD cards and GoPro accessories ready to snap and capture the adventure that was to unfold as it happened.
With no prior knowledge of what was in store over the coming days, but with a fairly well-informed suspicion that we’d be jumping off something thoroughly terrifying, our small media contingent boarded Queenstown’s famous gondola and headed up the steep incline to partake in some light entertainment before we faced the scary stuff, by way of racing each other on the luge.
Some took daring corners to overtake their way to victory. Others learned the hard way that gravity’s a bitch. All up, this is a lot more fun than it initially looks, and Skyline’s luge tracks are some of the best–whether you’re a dab hand or novice.
Back to the beautifully appointed The Rees Hotel for not-quite-enough shut-eye (those mattresses are just the medicine for some quality napping in between fast-paced activities) and then up early for the morning view of sunlight across the lake, a quick coffee, and then another surprise day of beautiful New Zealand.
Day two saw us take a chopper through some of the rarer sights of greater Queenstown, flying over Milford Sound and Mt Christina, before landing on a glacier (as one does). A few more stopovers in the helicopter before lunch under a mountain that was, quite literally, the most impressive natural sight this writer has ever seen, and then it was time for, as we soon learnt, canyoning.
Queenstown’s greatest charm is its ability to lure you in and make you want to be within its hidden treasures. Canyoning, despite its school camp-like format and school camp-like instructors, is a great way to immerse yourself (quite literally) in the glacial ponds, waterfalls and tree canopies that you won’t see from the sky. After two hours of this, however, it’s time for a beer.
There’s a lot to be said for Queenstown’s “extreme adventure fun time” vibe: it’s a tourist town frequented by those who like to grip it and rip it, and a short stroll through the town’s charming centre, which is a cross between a giant Swiss ski chalet and a collection of Canadian dive bars, and you’ll find days’ worth of options to keep entertained, with the blood pumping. And the GoPro Hero 7 Black (we were shooting on the flash new Dusk White edition), like its predecessors, is more than capable of being your trusty sidekick for the adventure you choose.
With hour of continuous filming in 4k on one charge at hand, it helps to carry a couple of spare batteries in a place like Queenstown. Given its size, portability and capability; no other camera makes capturing incredible footage this easy and painless, and you can head into the wilderness without worrying about precious cargo like DSLR lenses.
We shot the video above in 2.7k, and used the much talked about SuperPhoto setting for the stills throughout and below. We’ll let you be the judge of how it turned out, but overall, we’re still impressed with GoPro’s flagship device, and how it fared in Queenstown’s rugged environment.