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17 Completely FREE Things to do in Queenstown that You’ll Love (2024 Guide!)

17 Completely FREE Things to do in Queenstown that You’ll Love (2024 Guide!)

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Who said you have to break the bank traveling Queenstown? In fact, many of the best activities in town are free!

As a local, I’ve definitely come to know which activities are just plain overpriced, and which are worth what you pay. But with that said, I was surprised with just how many free things there are to do here, and how many were actually so much fun.

I was really inspired to write down all of these amazing free activities into a blog of their own. So, without further ado, let me introduce the 17 best free things to do in Queenstown!

Free Things to do in Queenstown

1. Hike Ben Lomond Track

Bailey stands at the summit of Ben Lomond and overlooks Queenstown, New Zealand
Ben Lomond Summit!

I had to start this list with one of the best hikes in New Zealand. The Ben Lomond Track is arguably Queenstown’s hardest day hike but the views both at the summit and along the way, are out of this world, seriously! Along the way, you’ll pass through pine forests, beautiful tussock grass, and panoramic views if you choose to summit New Zealand’s alpine terrain.

To hike the entire Ben Lomond Track you’ll need a full day as this trail takes between 6 to 8 hours (it takes me 8!). At 14 kilometers (9 miles) long with an elevation gain of over 1,400 meters (4,593 feet), it’s no walk in the park.

The most common place to start the trail is at the Queenstown Gondola where you can either take the gondola up to the trailhead or walk up the Tiki Trail (more on that below). I personally like to hike the entire way, but if you think it’s too far, taking the gondola is a great shortcut although not entirely free.

All this can sound confusing so I recommend reading my guide to hiking Ben Lomond Track. It’s got all the info you need!

2. Drive the scenic road from Queenstown to Glenorchy

Windy road with mountain and lake views on the way to Glenorchy from Queenstown
The road to Glenorchy!

Few free activities in Queenstown are as enjoyable as driving the scenic Glenorchy-Queenstown Road to Glenorchy. The 46-kilometer (28.5 miles) journey is all about amazing views, hiking trails, and just feeling free on the windy highway.

Driving straight will take you only 45 minutes to reach Glenorchy, but I don’t recommend rushing through! For this activity, you’ll need at least half of a day when you combine it with a visit to Glenorchy, but it’s so much fun and will leave you with so many amazing memories.

Of course, for this to be an entirely free activity, you will need to rent a car in Queenstown. Most people come to Queenstown with a plan to rent a car or already have their campervan rental for their upcoming road trips.

Although not entirely free (but still cheaper than renting a car for a whole week) you can take a tour to Glenorchy from Queenstown if you don’t have your own wheels. You’ll get to enjoy the stops along the scenic route, such as Bennett’s Bluff and Glenorchy Wharf, then explore Glenorchy and Paradise in a 4-hour tour. Besides transportation, you’ll also get expert insight and history from a local guide and get to see iconic Lord of the Rings film locations. You can reserve this tour in advance for $179 NZD.

Related Read: If you’re looking for a variety of tour options, be sure to read my guide to the best tours to Glenorchy from Queenstown!

3. Explore Glenorchy

A tent set up below Earnslaw Burn Glacier on the Earnslaw Burn Track
Earnslaw Burn Track
Bailey at the river at the end of the Earnslaw Burn Track in Queenstown
Earnslaw Burn is the best free overnight hike in Glenorchy!

After enjoying that scenic drive you’ll arrive in one of the smallest, but most beautiful, towns in New Zealand. Glenorchy is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand and everyone who comes to Queenstown needs to check it out. There are a ton of things to do in Glenorchy including skydiving, jetboating, horse riding, and even the Glenorchy Animal Experience.

Those activities all cost money, but luckily, I have a guide to the best free things to do in Glenorchy that includes amazing hikes in Glenorchy, like the Glenorchy Walkway and day hikes on the Routeburn Track, as well as activities such as visiting the Glenorchy Jetty. That’s one thing I also love about Glenorchy, I rarely spend a dime – except at Mrs. Wooley’s General Store on those delicious pies!

Regardless of what you do in Glenorchy, just exploring the town is well worth the scenic drive to get there!

4. Walk around Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes Foreshore with reflections of the mountains
Like I said, mirror-like reflections

Queenstown is located in the Lakes District so it’s no wonder so many of the best free things to do involve visiting lakes. One of my favorites, especially in the fall, is Lake Hayes. Although not the greatest lake for swimming, the Lake Hayes Loop Track follows the lake’s perimeter and is one of the best easy hikes in Queenstown.

The trail is almost completely flat (I was going to say completely flat but I might get a couple of angry messages later) and is 8 kilometers (5 miles) long in total. It takes just over 2 hours to walk the entire trail and the views are gorgeous along the way. If you get a calm day, you’ll enjoy mirror-like reflections, and if you’re visiting in the fall, the colors are amazing!

Lake Hayes is super close to Queenstown, so you can access it by a 10-minute drive or by the public bus!

5. Enjoy the sunrise from Queenstown Hill

Basket of Dreams at the top of Queenstown Hill, New Zealand
Basket of Dreams at the top of Queenstown Hill, New Zealand

The Queenstown Hill Track is likely the most hiked trail in Queenstown. For one, it’s rather short at only 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) return, and two, it starts from right in town on Belfast Terrace. Despite this, the trail still isn’t as easy as you think. If you walk from town, it’s a 600-meter (1,969 feet) gain in elevation. However, if you have a car then you can shorten that a lot by driving up to the trailhead.

Once on the trail, the views are pretty average until you reach the Basket of Dreams sculpture. But once at the sculpture, the views over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown are unreal! You can even continue on further to the Queenstown Hill summit. From the summit, you can see The Remarkables sitting over Frankton and even the Crown Range Road towards Wanaka.

My favorite time to hike Queenstown Hill Track is at sunrise, not only is the trail almost empty, but golden hour provides the most beautiful light! Since it’s only 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) to the top, you don’t have to wake up crazy early to catch the sunrise.

Related Read: One of the best ways to save money while exploring New Zealand is to rent a campervan in Queenstown and road trip! You can stay at campgrounds, cook your own food, and see some iconic sights along the way.

6. Wander the Queenstown Gardens

Bailey walks along the edge of the Queenstown Gardens at sunset
I love walking here at sunset!

Only a short walk from Queenstown’s downtown area is the Queenstown Gardens. These beautifully manicured gardens are completely free to visit and within them, you can walk a few different footpaths to ponds, flower gardens, and of course the edge of Lake Wakatipu. I love coming down with a packed lunch and enjoying a picnic by the lake.

Another cool attraction in the Queenstown Gardens is the Frisbee golf under the huge pine trees. It costs absolutely nothing to play, but if you don’t have your own Frisbee you’ll need to rent one from the Queenstown Ice Arena for $6 NZD. Still, for $6 it’s a great way to spend a few hours, and Frisbee golf is actually so much fun!

7. Visit Arrowtown

Buckingham Street in Arrowtown during summer in New Zealand
Buckingham Street in Arrowtown during summer in New Zealand
Bailey stands in the doorway of one of the Chinese Settlement houses in Arrowtown, NZ
The houses are tiny!

Arrowtown is a small gold mining town located only 20 minutes from Queenstown. Although gold mining has finished in the area, the town has kept the old architecture and today it’s as cute as ever. There are a few cool things to do in Arrowtown including hiking the Big Hill Track. This half-day trail is one of the best in the area and is completely free to do.

Other than that, I just love wandering the main street, checking out the many boutique shops, and heading to Slow Cuts to try some local craft beer! Be sure to head down to the river that runs through the town and take a stroll, it’s wonderful, and in fall, Arrowtown is the most beautiful place in New Zealand.

You can reach Arrowtown by public bus if you don’t have a car. To do so, simply head to the Stanley Street Bus Hub B and catch bus 2 towards Arrowtown. The bus takes around 30 minutes to reach Arrowtown from Queenstown and after you can catch the same bus back.

If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to explore Arrowtown from Queenstown, then this bike tour provides a mountain or e-bike and a shuttle service to Arrowtown. They will drive you to Arrowtown, where you can hang out for a while and explore the cute shops and historic buildings. Then, take off on your bike along the scenic 18-kilometer (30-mile) route and you can make more stops along the way, such as Altitude Brewing! This route is incredibly scenic, and seeing it by bicycling is so much fun that I’ve done it a few times.

The tour company provides transportation to Arrowtown, the bike, helmet, and a map so you don’t get lost! You can easily spend a full day on this activity, so it makes the price of the bike rental stretch a bit. You can book a mountain bike for $90 NZD per person.

8. Take a trip to Moke Lake

Bailey stops for a break on the Moke Lake Walkway
It’s an easy walk!

The most peaceful place to visit only a short drive from Queenstown is Moke Lake. Despite the many things to do at Moke Lake it’s never overly busy, and at sunset, it’s dead quiet. On calm days the reflections on the lake of the surrounding mountains will take your breath away. I often come here to escape the craziness and sometimes even spend the night at the campsite under the stars.

If you’re feeling more adventurous then consider going on a hike. The Moke Lake Viewpoint is my favorite hike. This trail is rather steep and takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the top. Although not an official trail, locals love going to the viewpoint to watch the sunset or photograph the stars. It’s considered a “secret” viewpoint, so it’s rare to see other people there!

For an easier trail, hike the Moke Lake Loop. The 6-kilometer (3.7 miles) hike is almost completely flat and only takes two hours. It is a very popular trail at Moke Lake, so it’s easy to find and a great way to spend an afternoon. The best part about Moke Lake is that all these hikes and viewpoints are completely free!

Okay, I know this is a free things-to-do guide, but I couldn’t mention Moke Lake without also mentioning kayaking! Kayaking on Moke Lake is by far the best way to explore it, imagine those reflections from the middle of the lake. This is another great option if you don’t have transportation, as they will drive you from Queenstown and provide all kayak gear, as well as coffee! You’ll have about 3 hours to paddle around the lake and can learn all about the area from your local guide.

I love kayaking on Moke Lake, so if you have room in your budget for a gorgeous afternoon on the water, this is perfect! You can book this tour in advance for $169 NZD.

Why I Book Tours on Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book all of my tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here

9. Taste fudge at The Remarkables Sweet Shop

sweets at Remarkable Sweet Shop
There is so much to try!
Remarkable Sweet Shop
It’s hard to know where to look!

Hungry? But don’t want to spend a dime? Head to The Remarkables Sweet Shop to try some free fudge! That’s right, this small sweet shop offers free tastings to visitors without the pressure to buy anything. Of course, I never leave without buying something, but if you just want to try some then go for it, the fudge is delicious.

What started out as a humble shop in Arrowtown has now expanded to three locations in the area due to its high demand! I love seeing local businesses thrive and grow, and they are loved by the Queenstown community. This is a great place to grab a souvenir if you have enough willpower not to eat all the sweet treats by yourself!

The Remarkables Sweet Shop is located on Beach Street in Queenstown town center but there’s also one in Arrowtown and Frankton.

10. Watch the sunset over Lake Wakatipu

Southern Discoveries cruise on Lake Wakatipu during sunset in Queenstown
The sunsets in summer as the best!
Bailey with two of her friends at Perky's - Floating Bar Queenstown at sunset
Fall in love with Queenstown just like we all did!

The sunsets in Queenstown are beautiful! I’m a sucker for heading down to the lake to catch the last few hours of the day with a drink in hand. My favorite place to go is along the edge of the lake near Queenstown Beach or along the foreshore of St Omar Park.

The best part is you can actually legally drink at St Omar Park and Queenstown Beach. I know, crazy right?! Just be sure to stop after 10 pm and don’t start before 11 am as outside those times it’s illegal. And remember to have fun but be responsible, there have been lots of talks on banning alcohol.

If you want an even better place to go, then head up to Lake Wakatipu Lookout. At the lookout, you get even better views and you can sometimes spot the TSS Earnslaw cruise in Queenstown sailing home. From Queenstown, you can either drive up to the viewpoint or walk.

If you want to get on the lake to explore, check out my guide to the best cruises in Queenstown! You can also take the Million Dollar Cruise for a 1.5-hour scenic boat ride around Lake Wakatipu. If you take this cruise in the winter, you can catch a beautiful sunset from the boat (the sun sets too late in the summer!). Although it’s cold outside, you can enjoy the heated cabin with a drink in hand as you see the sunset over Lake Wakatipu. The best part is that this cruise is only $59 NZD- which is actually a very good price for a scenic cruise.

banner asking people to click to join the Queenstown Diary Facebook Group

11. Browse the Saturday Markets

Queenstown Arts and Craft Market
Queenstown Arts and Craft Market

Every Saturday in Queenstown, rain, hail, or shine, the Queenstown Market comes to life. You’ll find lots of hard-working small businesses trying to get their unique products out to the public, and vendors come from all over Otago to be there. This is the place to pick up the perfect souvenir or gift for friends and family back home (you know, instead of those cheap gifts at those souvenir shops that all sell the same stuff!).

You can find handcrafted jewelry, New Zealand jade carvings, pottery, clothes, and other incredible artwork! It is impressive to see how crafty these vendors are! I love grabbing a cup of coffee and roaming through the stalls.

The markets run every Saturday in Earnslaw Park from 9 am to 4 pm. You can’t miss out on this iconic Queenstown activity!

12. Enjoy Queenstown’s shortest hike on Bob’s Cove Track

Bailey at Bob's Peak near Queenstown, New Zealand
On a clear day, this is a must do!
The jetty at Bob;s Cove along the Bob's Peak Track near Queenstown
The jetty at Bob;s Cove along the Bob’s Peak Track near Queenstown

Perhaps the shortest hike you can do in Queenstown is Bob’s Cove Track. Although short, the views from Picnic Point on the trail are absolutely stunning! Just check out the photo above and tell me you aren’t already excited.

The track is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) return and departs from the parking lot right off the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. It only takes 30 minutes to hike the trail, however, you’ll want to allow more time to spend at the viewpoint because it’s so beautiful! The lush foliage and extensive coastline make it feel like a tropical beach, not just the lake shore!

Since it’s a viewpoint trail it isn’t flat, but still rather easy, and even kids can do it. Once done, you can even go to the beach for a swim and sunbathe. It’s a beautiful beach that doesn’t attract large crowds.

To reach Bob’s Cove you will need a car as no buses go that far (it’s about 15 minutes outside of Queenstown). Once again, if you don’t have one you will need to rent one in Queenstown. Although a little costly at first, it’ll save you money with all the free activities you can do in Queenstown.

13. Go stargazing

The milky way near Queenstown New Zealand
The Milky Way on the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy

Because Queenstown is so remote, there is very little light pollution especially just outside of town. With the naked eye, you can see the stars and the Milky Way clear as day. And with a camera, you can capture amazing images!

My favorite place to go is on the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy. At Bennetts Bluff Lookout, you can capture amazing pictures over the Humboldt Mountains. Just check out the photo above! Moke Lake is also an incredible stargazing spot.

This is a completely free activity in Queenstown that’s best done in winter when the core of the Milky Way is visible. Also, during winter, you can see the Southern Lights if you’re lucky. Of course, you have to be in the right place at the right time, but if you do get to see them, you’ll be blown away!

14. Hike up to Bob’s Peak via the Tiki Trail

Bailey poses for a photo with views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu on the Tiki Trail
The views get good towards the top!

The most iconic photo of Queenstown is taken from up at Bob’s Peak (where to gondola leads). I personally love the view and head up a lot to catch the sunrise, sunset, or just to admire the view with friends. Of course, I can’t be paying $52 NZD for the gondola every time. So instead, I hike the Tiki Trail to the top.

The Tiki Trail is only a short hike but it does climb 450 meters (1,476 feet) in elevation. It usually takes me 1.5 hours to hike up on a good day even though the trail is only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long – it’s actually that steep! However, once at the top, you’ll get to enjoy that iconic view completely free!

The Tiki Trail is the start of the Ben Lomond Track as mentioned earlier. If you don’t want to ride the gondola to the top, you’ll start on the Tiki Trail and connect to the Ben Lomond Track once you summit Bob’s Peak.

Even if you don’t want to hike the entire Ben Lomond Track, you can still enjoy the short but sweet Tiki Trail and get to the top of Bob’s Peak. From there, you can enjoy all the activities at Skyline and if you do have some money to spend, I recommend giving the Luge a go. The gravity-fed go-kart track is so much fun!

15. Visit Sunshine Bay for some sunshine

Sunshine Bay, Queenstown
If you want to get a beach to yourself, Sunshine Bay is a local secret!

Queenstown Beach often gets extremely busy. For those looking for a free but relaxing activity, you may not want to head there. Instead, either drive or walk to Sunshine Bay.

Sunshine Bay is a small, local beach only a few kilometers from Queenstown. The beach rarely attracts a large crowd and it gets lots of sunshine. There are two ways to get to Sunshine Beach. The first is to drive to the parking lot at the beach. This is super convenient if you have a car.

Even if you don’t have wheels, you can still easily get there by hiking the Sunshine Bay Track. The trail is only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and starts just past the traffic circle on the Esplanade towards Fernhill. It follows Lake Wakatipu and along the way, you’ll pass by an 8-meter (26-foot) waterfall that just adds to the gorgeous scenery! Allow 30 minutes each way and once you get there you’ll be able to cool off in the lake!

16. Take a self-driven Lord of the Rings tour     

bailey dresses up on a Lord of the Rings Tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy
I loved the tour even though I’m not the biggest LOTR fan!

The Lord of the Rings movies have some iconic film locations around Queenstown and Glenorchy. Many people visit to go on a Lord of the Rings tour, however, they are a bit expensive! You can save a few bucks by creating your own self-guided LOTR tour and still get to experience the magic of the area.

With a little preparation, you can see a few of the most famous ones on your own. I recommend using the DOC website, as it makes finding these locations simple!

Here are a few (some with pins to their locations) around Queenstown and Glenorchy:

Mine of Moria/ Dimrill Dale–Dimrill Dail where Aragon leads the Fellowship away from the Mine of Moria is actually located at Lake Alta. Below I talk about hiking the trail to this famous Lord of the Rings film location.

Ithilien Camp – Next is Ithilien Camp. This one is marked on Google Maps and there is a small fire pit where Frodo and Sam sat with Gollum and ate the rabbit.

River Anduin – Kawarau Gorge (near where the Kawarau Gorge Bungy is located) was used to film the scene where the Fellowship canoe up to The Pillars of the Kings. You won’t find The Pillars of the Kings here though so you’ll have to use your imagination.

IsengardFrom the Isengard lookout in Glenorchy you can stare out, and with a lot of imagination, picture Isengard in the valley. It’s a hard one to see because of all the animation used in the movie.

Forest of Fangorn – While looking at Isengard, look to your right into the forest. Here sits the Forest of Fangorn!

These are just a few, and there are a lot of smaller scenes filmed in the area too!

However, if you’re a die-hard LOTR fan, you’ll really benefit from a guided tour. I was amazed at all the things I learned and experienced on my tour, and I’m not even a huge fan of the movies! I took this half-day tour and went all around Queenstown/Glenorchy, thankfully my local guide was a fountain of information so I learned a lot about the films and the history of the area. They provided costumes so we could dress up and re-enact scenes, as well as transportation from Queenstown and afternoon tea!

I truly enjoyed this experience, so I can only imagine how fun it would be for a superfan. You can book this LOTR tour for $189 NZD.

17. Hike Lake Alta Track

Two people swim in Lake Alta in New Zealand near Queenstown
Of course, the boys went in!
Bailey on the edge of Lake Alta, Queenstown
Not me though, the lake was freezing!

Lake Alta is an alpine lake located high up in The Remarkables Mountain Range. Although remote, it’s easy to get to! The Lake Alta Trail is only 1.75 kilometers (1 mile) each way but after you’ll get to enjoy one of the least visited lakes in Queenstown.

From the parking lot of the ski field, the trail involves a short hike before a scramble up the hillside to Lake Alta. After, you can relax by the lake or continue hiking up to the saddle for an epic birds-eye view.

This trail is short but steep and for some strange reason, not many people hike it. This surprises me, not only because it’s such a cool hike, but because it’s another Lord of the Rings film location. The scene where the fellowship escapes the Mines of Moria was filmed here!

Related Read: For more budget-saving activities in the area, check out my blog about the best free and cheap things to do in Wanaka (a cute town only an hour’s drive from Queenstown!) Otherwise, if you have a few dollars to spend, there are lots of cheap things to do in Queenstown too (less than $40 NZD!)

Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown

Stirling Falls in Milford Sound, New Zealand
Stirling Falls!
Bailey on the TSS Earnslaw
Jugging along on the TSS Earnslaw!

While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… Honestly, there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.

  • Central Otago Wine Tour and Tasting – This is my personal favorite wine tour in Queenstown! It is one of the best value for money, for $239 NZD your tour bus will stop at 4 different boutique wineries in the Otago region that include a wide range of wine samples and a provided gourmet lunch platter. As you hop between wineries you’ll gaze out the window at spectacular views.
  • TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
  • Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
  • Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a cruise in Milford Sound included. This small-group tour goes for $289 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
  • Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!

Where to Stay in Queenstown

Hot Tub over looking the river and mountains at Kamana Soak in Queenstown, New Zealand
Photo credit: Kamana Lakehouse

Finding the right place to stay in Queenstown can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of awesome choices, but things book up fast! For that reason, I highly suggest booking your accommodation well in advance.

Honestly, during peak times, any of the best hotels in Queenstown will be fully booked several weeks in advance…you have been warned! To help you plan ahead, here are a few places I personally love and that would make an awesome place to stay in Queenstown.

Kamana Lakehouse – $$$

For a luxurious stay, I highly recommend Kamana Lakehouse. This hotel is located just on the outskirts of town. Although it’s super peaceful, it’s just a 5-minute drive into the center of town. The place overlooks both the lake and the mountains, and the onsite restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients to create the freshest meals. To top it off, many of the rooms boast lake views, and some even have outdoor baths!

The trick will be snagging this for your dates (it’s a popular place!). Rooms start around the $400 NZD mark, and you can check availability and book online here.

La Quinta Queenstown – $$

If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel, then you should seriously consider La Quinta Queenstown. This beautiful hotel is right by the airport but still very quiet. Plus, the views are amazing (although you won’t find me recommending a place without great views!). The rooms are all studio or one-bedroom apartments, which is really handy if you want to cook or even just have breakfast in your room.

Prices start at $200 NZD and you can book online here.

Absoloot Hostel Queenstown – $

My top choice for budget travelers is the Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This small hostel has dorm rooms and budget private rooms, and it’s really clean and comfortable. The location is in the heart of Queenstown – the window from the kitchen looks out over Lake Wakatipu!

Dorms are around $55 NZD, and private rooms begin around $210 NZD. The Absoloot Hostel is easily one of the top cheap hostels in Queenstown and can be booked on or

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo the the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall in New Zealand
Thanks for reading!

Queenstown can be a really cheap place to visit if you want it to be. The 17 free activities above are some of my favorites in Queenstown and should keep any visitor busy for a while. Of course, if you want more ideas, check out my huge guide to the best things to do in Queenstown. Not everything to do is free in it, but there’s a huge variety.

Thanks so much for reading! I really hope this blog has helped you plan your upcoming trip. If you loved it then be sure to browse around, this blog has lost more detailed guides on Queenstown and New Zealand. Below I’ve listed a few popular reads for you to check out.

10 BEST Stops on the Drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

25 BEST Places to Visit on New Zealand’s South Island

27 Free and Cheap Things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

5 Reasons to Avoid Queenstown in Summer (And a Better Alternative!)

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    Sunday 1st of January 2023

    Hi Bailey, Thanks so much for sharing your experience it was so informative and l learned alot.



    Monday 2nd of January 2023

    Hey Sara, so glad you liked the blog!


    Wednesday 21st of July 2021

    Thank you so much for writing about your wonderful experience in Queenstown. I have learnt a lot and looking forward to explore more :)


    Thursday 22nd of July 2021

    Hey Nur,

    I am so glad to hear that. Enjoy Queenstown!

    Thanks Bailey