This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
The Queenstown Gardens is one of the best places to visit if you’re in Queenstown for a few days. Home to manicured gardens, an array of flowers, and even its own pond complete with ducks, the Queenstown Gardens are simply stunning!
Not only is visiting the Queenstown Gardens completely free but there are actually a ton of awesome activities to do there too. From having a picnic by the lake to letting the kids play in the playground, you can’t beat this free activity in Queenstown.
To help plan your visit, I’ll show you the best things to do in the Queenstown Gardens as well as other tips and info you need to know before you go.
Queenstown Gardens FAQs
Things to do in the Queenstown Gardens
1. Walk the Queenstown Gardens Trail
Without a doubt, the number one thing to do in the Queenstown Gardens is to walk the short and beautiful trail that loops around the entire garden. On the trail, you pass by beautifully manicured flowerbeds as well as enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.
It’s considered one of the best easy hikes in Queenstown and accessible to almost everyone. Be sure to walk all the way to the end and check out the lakeshore. From here you can even spot the TSS Earnslaw – one of the best lake cruises in Queenstown!
The entire trail only takes around 30 minutes to walk at a slow pace but there is also another trail through the huge pine trees you can walk as well. Just be careful here as it’s also the disc golf (frisbee golf) course!
2. Have a picnic
In the summer months in Queenstown grab some takeaway food from one of the delicious local restaurants or a packed lunch and head down to the Queenstown Gardens to enjoy the beautiful weather. Sit back, enjoy the views, and refuel with some delicious food.
My favorite takeaway food in Queenstown is Fergburger. With almost no restaurant seating you’ll almost certainly have to take your burger to go. Grab it and head to the Queenstown Gardens. It’s only a 5 to 10-minute walk and you’ll get to cross off two of the best things to do in Queenstown at once.
Some other great options include heading to the Four Square Supermarket to get some cheese and cold meats, or Erik’s Fish and Chips for takeaway seafood!
3. Play frisbee (disc) golf
Under the tall pine trees in the Queenstown Gardens, you’ll find a frisbee golf course that’s completely free to use. With your friends, you can test your skills and play the entire course to see who’s the true frisbee golf champion. Have more time? Play again!
For those who don’t know, frisbee golf is essentially golf but instead of hitting a ball, you throw a frisbee. It is sometimes called “disc golf.” Also, there aren’t any holes, just a metal basket to throw your frisbee at. The sport is straightforward to play, and anyone can do it.
Although the course is free to play, the frisbees are not. If you don’t have your own, you’ll need to rent them from the Queenstown Ice Arena in the gardens. They only cost $5 though so it’s a really cheap activity in Queenstown.
4. Go ice skating
The Queenstown Ice Arena is located within the Queenstown Gardens. It’s Queenstown’s only ice skating rink and for those who either love to skate or want to give it a try, this is a perfect time!
I personally love ice skating and in Canada, it was something I did every year on the frozen lakes and ponds. Ice rinks aren’t as fun as frozen lakes but that’s simply not an option as winter in Queenstown simply doesn’t get cold enough.
Entry to the Queenstown Ice Arena is only $19 NZD for adults and $15 for children and that includes skate rental and multiple entries all day. That means you can have a skate, go for a walk in the gardens, and return again for a skate. They also have family passes for $55 which makes it even cheaper!
5. Join a segway tour
Segways provide the perfect vehicle to explore Queenstown. Despite being motorized, you can still travel along Queenstown’s walking paths exploring the best spots including the Queenstown Gardens. Segways can’t be rented but there are organized tours that include a guide. These tours last for either 1 or 2 hours. Both segway tours available in Queenstown explore the Queenstown Gardens.
On a segway tour your guide will take you around Queenstown foreshore to explore places like St Omar Park, Earnslaw Park, Marine Parade, and the Queenstown Gardens. You’ll cover a lot more ground than you would on foot and with a local guide, you’ll learn all about the area too.
Segway tours start at $90 NZD per person for 1 hour and $140 for 2 hours. The tour includes training on how to use the segway but trust me; it’s really easy! You should book your segway tour in advance in the summer as it’s a very popular activity and there are only a few time slots per day.
6. Play at the playground
One of the best activities for kids in Queenstown is the Queenstown Gardens public playground. It’s a huge playground and comes with all sorts of obstacles for kids to try. There are also games that are sure to tire the kids out, and the best part is that you can sit back and relax with a coffee in hand!
The playground is located right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu at the entrance to the Queenstown Gardens. One of the best cafes in Queenstown, The Bathhouse, is located right next door and you could actually get a table and watch the kids from there. Afterward, you could go for a swim or relax at Queenstown Beach.
7. Attend an event
The Queenstown Gardens are one of the most popular places to hold events in Queenstown. During your stay, you could be lucky enough to be in Queenstown during one of them and if you are, you should definitely go!
The most famous event held in the Queenstown Gardens is the Queenstown Winter Festival. This annual event is held in the middle of June for 4 days. During the festival, there are lots of things going on including live music, fireworks, games, shows, and more. The festival isn’t just held in the gardens though, in fact, some of the events are at Coronet Peak Resort and around town.
Another festival held in the gardens is the LUMA Lights Festival. This sensory experience has you wandering the Queenstown Gardens looking at cool light displays all while enjoying a hot mulled wine. It’s held annually over the King’s birthday weekend, which is typically in late May or early June.
In the summertime, one of the most popular events is the New Year’s Eve fireworks that happen on the lake. From the Queenstown Gardens, you get epic views of the fireworks.
There are lots of smaller events every year, so be sure to do a quick search before you go!
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
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 values for money, for $215 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 $249 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
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!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
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.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. My top choice for a motorhome company is Star RV because they have beautiful motorhomes at affordable prices. You can check prices and availability for Star RV motorhomes online here. Alternatively, you can use Motorhome Republic to search all motorhomes in NZ. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! 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! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
The Queenstown Gardens are a beautiful place to explore in Queenstown. It’s a place I love to spend time during the summer months to enjoy the warm weather, beautiful flowers, and magnificent views. During winter in New Zealand, it’s about the festivals and beautiful scenery here when it snows. The best part is that there are lots of amazing things to do in the Queenstown Gardens that are sure to keep you busy.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you’re excited to explore the Queenstown Gardens and found this guide helpful! If you did then be sure to browse around, this blog is filled with great articles on Queenstown, New Zealand, and other surrounding citites! Or check out the few articles I’ve dropped below that I think you might find interesting!