Queenstown doesn’t always enjoy bluebird days. Any time of the year you can be forced to head indoors because of the rain, even in the middle of summer… trust me! In fact, it actually rains a lot in Queenstown during the spring and early summer months.
Luckily though, there are a ton of awesome things to do in Queenstown when it’s raining. That’s right, despite being an outdoor lover’s paradise, Queenstown is home to lots of activities that are either indoors or just as good when it’s raining.
From visiting Fiordland National Park, to getting tipsy on a wine tour, here are the 24 best things to do in Queenstown when it’s raining!
1. iFLY Queenstown Indoor Skydiving
Skydiving when it’s raining in Queenstown not only isn’t ideal but most of the time it can’t be done. Instead, head over to iFLY Queenstown to check out their state-of-the-art indoor skydiving tunnel.
Indoor skydiving is new to Queenstown and in 2018, construction on the state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel was completed. iFLY Queenstown which owns and operates the tunnel is a leading indoor skydiving company with wind tunnels all over the world.
Indoor skydiving in Queenstown gives visitors the thrill of skydiving without actually jumping out of a plane (great if you’re afraid of heights.) Professional skydivers actually use the tunnels to train, but for the average person, it’s all about the fun!
If you’ve never been indoor skydiving before then it may take a little getting used to, however, every session includes a personal instructor to help you out and show you the basics.
Indoor skydiving is a great activity to do when it’s raining in Queenstown because it’s completely indoors. The price for two 1 minute flights starts at $99 NZD and although expensive, it’s a unique experience!
2. Onsen Hot Pools
There isn’t another hot pool in New Zealand as famous as Onsen Hot Pools. Located just outside of Queenstown in Arthurs Point overlooking the Shotover River, Onsen Hot Pools are easily one of the best things to do in Queenstown.
A huge advantage of these hot pools near Queenstown is that every pool at Onsen Hot Pools is private – which I love! You can sit back and enjoy one of the most romantic activities in Queenstown (perfect for anybody visiting Queenstown on a honeymoon) or share your pool with up to 3 friends. The best part is that they have both semi-indoor pools and outdoor pools so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining in Queenstown. Unfortunately, you do have to book Onsen Hot Pools in advance which makes it hard to time with the rain.
A 1-hour time slot in a private pool starts at $165 NZD for two people and they also offer spa treatments and other packages.
Related Read: Other beautiful hot pools nearby are the Omarama Hot Tubs – one of the best stops on the drive between Queenstown and Mount Cook.
3. Swim at Alpine Aqua Land
Alpine Aqua Land is the name of Queenstown’s indoor pool. Located out in Frankton, the pool is open to the public and is a great activity to do when it’s raining, especially if you’re visiting Queenstown with kids.
Entrance to the pools is only $8 NZD for adults and $4 for children so it’s a really cheap thing to do in Queenstown. Within Alpine Aqua Land you’ll find a lap pool, a large kid’s pool with slides and games, and for the adults, there’s a hot tub and sauna. The hot tub even has views of the mountains!
Alpine Aqua Land is completely indoors so it’s perfect on a rainy day and will keep the kids and yourself entertained for a while!
4. Milford Sound
Visiting Milford Sound is one of the best things to do in New Zealand. This stunning fiord is Fiordland National Park’s most famous attraction, and it’s just as beautiful to visit when it’s raining. This may come as a surprise, but it’s true! I’ve personally visited Milford Sound in all conditions and love it when it’s raining.
Milford is famous for its hundreds of beautiful waterfalls that form when it’s raining and quickly disappear when it’s not. When it does rain in Milford Sound, the fiord feels so alive and the mood is airy, taking you back to the time when only the Maori people inhabited this remote and rugged region.
Visiting Milford Sound from Queenstown is most commonly done on a Milford Sound day tour that includes your transport to and from the fiord in a large coach before you board a cruise to explore. Of course, you can choose from a range of Milford tours from Queenstown including scenic flights with a cruise to and from Milford Sound as well.
If you can, however, I recommend doing your own road trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown and staying the night in either Te Anau or Milford Sound itself. That way, you can enjoy all the beautiful places to stop along the way and maybe even do one of the best hikes on the South Island such as the Key Summit or Lake Marian Track.
It rains over 250 days a year in Milford Sound (it’s also the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand), so don’t let a little water stop you from enjoying this breathtaking place!
Related Read: Before heading to Te Anau and Milford, be sure to read my blogs about the must-see stops on the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau as well as Te Anau to Milford Sound!
5. Go on a pub crawl
You can party in Queenstown in the rain, hail, or shine. However, it can be hard to know exactly where to go and to meet other people. Luckily, you can actually join a pub crawl in Queenstown so you don’t have to worry about any of that.
There are two companies that do pub crawls in Queenstown, Big Night Out and Kiwi Crawl. Big Night Out has pub crawls from Tuesday to Saturday all year. Each night there is a different theme and you’ll visit 4 bars, get discounted drinks, free pizza, and photos of the night (although, do you really want to see them?!) They also do special event pub crawls for New Years’, Australia Day, and St Patricks Day. For their standard pub crawl, it costs $30 NZD per person.
Kiwi Crawl offers much the same and operates the same nights of the week. With that said, Kiwi Crawl also does ice bar crawls on Tuesdays and Saturdays that visit one of the ice bars in town (for an extra $10) and custom parties that can include party cruises on Lake Wakatipu! Their standard pub crawl is also only $30!
6. Visit Game Over Queenstown
Game Over Queenstown is the perfect activity to do when it’s raining especially for those who love to challenge their friends. Game Over has three activities you can do including indoor go-karting, laser tag, and an arcade.
My personal favorite is go-karting. Game Over Queenstown has an indoor track that, although small, has really tight corners which makes racing fun and challenging! The go-karts are electric and they do limit the speeds on the karts for safety reasons. I personally find it lots of fun, but people who are used to racing fast go-karts might not.
Game Over Queenstown also has the largest selection of arcade games in Queenstown. You can play most games for only $1 each so it’s pretty cheap and there are lots of prizes to win. Personally, this isn’t my thing but some people love it.
The last thing to do at Game Over is Jurassic Battle Laser Tag. I’ve never played laser tag in Queenstown, but I have done it elsewhere. I’m not sure if I love it or not as my partner is a little too competitive!
7. Lake Wakatipu Cruise
A cruise on Lake Wakatipu can be done in any weather, even in the rain or during the winter in Queenstown! Cruises depart multiple times a day pretty much every day of the year from the Steamer Wharf in Queenstown. Although more beautiful on a nice day, you can still get great views during light rain.
There are two main cruises in Queenstown with one called the TSS Earnslaw and the other the Spirit of Queenstown. Both cruises do the same route on the lake with the Spirit of Queenstown being the cheaper option starting at $39 NZD per person (when you find it on sale.) However, the TSS Earnslaw is an old 1900s coal-powered steamship and you can actually see the workers shoveling coal in the boiler rooms! But that’ll set you back $70 NZD.
For a really special experience, be sure to book the TSS Earnslaw with BBQ lunch buffet. Seriously, this lunch is amazing and you’ll enjoy it with views from the spectacular Walk Peak High Country Farm.
If you can’t decide which one to do, then check out my guide to choosing the best cruise in Queenstown. It’s a detailed comparison of both cruises in Queenstown.
8. Shop ’til you drop
If it’s raining in Queenstown then why not lighten the mood with a little bit of retail therapy. Although Queenstown isn’t home to lots of huge name-brand stores, there are still a few including Just Jeans, Louis Vuitton, Sunglass Hut, UGG, Ice Breaker, and Katmandu.
What I love most though are the cute boutique stores such as SLOW, STORM Women’s clothing, and Wild South Adventure Clothing. All of these stores can be found around Queenstown town center but there’s lots more to see. My recommendation is to take a wander around. Most of the sidewalks have some shelter from the rain so, with an umbrella, this is a great activity when it’s raining in Queenstown.
9. Hydro Attack Queenstown
Have you heard of the Hydro Attack Shark in Queenstown? Not likely, but it’s actually one outdoor activity in Queenstown that is unaffected by the rain! The Hydro Shark is like a jet ski but it also goes underwater like a shark.
Basically, you sit in a seat behind the driver, and then like a fighter jet they close the windscreen over you. Then, you’ll fly across the water before the shark makes fast dives below the water and then pops up out of the water. I’ve never done it before but it’s always zooming around on Lake Wakatipu and I’ve often wondered what it’s like.
The Hydro Shark isn’t a cheap activity and for a 15-minute ride, it’ll cost you upwards of $155 NZD. With that said, it’s unique to Queenstown.
Note: The Hydro Shark is often fully booked during weekends or peak seasons, be sure to book your experience in advance to avoid missing out!
10. Go on a quad tour
Quad bikes, also known as ATVs, are a fun way to drive yourself around rough terrain. Climb up mountains, cross rivers, and speed through the mud! You name it, the quad will (try) to tackle it!
One of the most popular adventure tours in Queenstown involves driving your own quad around and on Queenstown Hill on a guided quad biking tour. Your guide will teach you everything you need to know before setting off to enjoy some of the most incredible views from up above Queenstown. With weather-proof gear provided, quad biking is one of the adventure tours you can do in Queenstown even when it’s raining.
This quad biking tour is suitable for anyone 16 years or older and is suitable even for people who’ve never driven a quad before. The tour departs from central Queenstown and lasts for 3.5 hours. Expect to pay around $303 NZD per person.
11. Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound is New Zealand’s second most popular fiord (after Milford of course,) but first, let me clear something up. You might be wondering why they’re called “sounds” but are actually fiords. It was a mistake! But, by the time they realized the error, the names were already too well-known so they left them! True story!
Anyway, back to Doubtful Sound. This beautiful fiord is like Milford’s Sound little brother (although it’s actually larger) and can be visited on a day trip from Queenstown. Just like Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is just as impressive in the rain.
Although closer to Queenstown, Doubtful Sound requires you to take a coach trip to Manapouri, then take a cruise across Lake Manapouri, and finally a bus ride to Doubtful Sound. It’s quite the journey and the reason Doubtful Sound tours are usually more expensive than a Milford Sound tour. With that said, you get to cruise Lake Manapouri which usually costs $75 NZD on its own!
Although I prefer Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is perfect for anyone who wants to get off the beaten path. It’s much less busy and very few people actually get to see Doubtful Sound, so it’s a more unique thing to do in Queenstown!
Fun Fact: “Fiords” are carved by glaciers whereas “sounds” are carved by rivers!
12. Visit Arrowtown
Arrowtown is a small town only 15 minutes from Queenstown. Famous for its old gold mining architecture and cute streets it’s a must-visit on any trip to Queenstown.
On a rainy day, you can head to Arrowtown to explore the Lake District Museum and Gallery, the historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, enjoy amazing food and craft beer at Slow Cuts, or just shop for souvenirs at a few of the boutique shops. There are also plenty of quaint cafes to enjoy in Arrowtown if you need to escape the rain. These are just a few of the many things you can do and see in Arrowtown.
Taking a trip to Arrowtown is relaxing, and on a rainy day, you’ll still get to enjoy many of the best things to do!
13. Go on a wine tour
Nothing lightens the mood on a rainy day like wine! So, why not go on a wine tour of the Gibbston Valley near Queenstown! Wines tours are honestly one of my favorite past times and in Queenstown, you can choose from a huge range of guided tours and also plan your own self-guided tour.
If it’s your first time in Queenstown and you don’t have a car, then an organized tour is the best option. There are a few in Queenstown including a hop-on hop-off tour for budget travelers and guided tours with lunch at a winery included.
If you don’t want to join a guided tour, then check out the best wineries in Queenstown, add them to Google Maps, and go on your own! Just be sure to have a designated driver!
14. Test your skills at Escape Quest
Escape rooms have become really popular in recent years. If you haven’t done one yet, then this is one activity you need to try. In a race against time, your team will need to finish a range of challenges to escape each room until you finally get out!
Queenstown’s Escape Quest follows the theme of the Otago region’s (where Queenstown is located) gold rush in the 1800s. They have four different challenges or quests you can try that all range in difficulty. The challenge lasts for an hour and in that time, you need to complete all of the puzzles to succeed. Many don’t finish it in time, but could you?
Escape Quest Queenstown also has virtual reality escape rooms which are rather new and something I haven’t tried (yet!) On top of that, you can join their outdoor escape (if it’s not raining of course!). The VR escape and outdoor escape sound fun, but personally, you can’t beat the classic indoor escape room!
15. Test your nerves at Fear Factory
Do you scare easily like me? Well, if you do then Fear Factory Queenstown will get your heart racing! I’ve only been to Fear Factory Queenstown once and that’s enough for me! The experience was so scary that at one point I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the maze!
Some people love getting scared or they just want to challenge themselves, and if that sounds like you, then you’ll love Fear Factory. The indoor maze (perfect for when it’s raining) is almost pitch black and along the way, actors will scare the lights out of you! It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to walk the maze, that is, if you can finish it!
Fear Factory costs $40 NZD for adults and $20 for children. Although there is no age limit on this activity, young kids do struggle and often don’t finish the maze.
16. Bounce around at SITE Trampoline
SITE Trampoline is the best place to go when it’s raining in Queenstown if you love to keep active like me! Honestly, why sit around while it’s raining, get moving and have some fun!
SITE Trampoline is basically just a huge room filled with trampolines and foam pits. It’s seriously so much fun and the best part is, it gets the heart rate up! During a typical session, you can jump around with friends, practice tricks, or just have fun by yourself.
A one-hour freestyle jump costs $26.50 NZD for adults and $16.50 for kids under 6. This is easily the best thing to do indoors to burn off some energy while it’s raining in Queenstown!
17. Visit a brewery
Queenstown is home to four breweries that you can visit to try their beer right from the tap. With four to choose from, it can be hard to know exactly where to go but my personal favorites are Altitude Brewing and Searchlight Brewery!
Both breweries are located a little out of town with Searchlight just off Gorge Road towards Arthurs Point and Altitude down in Frankton along the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Both breweries serve a large selection of craft beers at affordable prices. They’re small, locally owned, and they brew delicious beer.
If you want to visit them all, then you can always join the craft beer tour. I’ve done one before and loved it. I actually got quite drunk!
Cold craft beer in Queenstown while the weather passes? Yes, please!
18. White water rafting
Let’s face it, if you go white water rafting in Queenstown you’re going to get wet regardless if it’s raining or not. In fact, the water in the rivers around Queenstown is much colder than the rain. This makes white water rafting the perfect activity to do in Queenstown when it’s raining.
There are a few different rivers to go white water rafting down near Queenstown and choosing which one depends on the experience you’re after. For the most extreme tour tackling class 4 to 5 rapids, this Shotover River rafting trip from Queenstown is the best choice. You must be over the age of 13 and it’s sure to get your heart racing!
If you’re traveling with family then the Family Adventures Rafting Tour is the best option. Although also on the Shotover River, the tour only tackles class 1 and 2 rapids. It’s more of a sightseeing tour and water confidence is not required.
Right smack bang in the middle is another rafting experience that includes a jet boat ride too. Kawarau River Jet-Raft is both a jet boating tour and white water rafting tour and on the tour, you’ll tackle class 2 to 3 rapids and also enjoy a thrilling ride down the Kawarau River on a jet boat.
All of the tours run for 5 hours so my personal recommendation is to choose based on the rapids you want to raft.
19. Jet boating
Like white water rafting, you’re going to get wet while jet boating in Queenstown. In fact, jet boating tours in Queenstown come with wet weather gear to not only keep you warm but dry underneath. I actually went jet boating in early spring and it was still really cold outside. But with the gear they provided and the adrenaline rush from the ride, I was warm and dry (underneath) the entire time!
There are 5 different jet boat operators in Queenstown so there are plenty to choose from. They are:
K-Jet – This is who I did my jet boating ride with. They leave from the wharf in Queenstown and the tour lasts for 1 hour. It was really fun and I can personally recommend this tour.
Shotover Jet – These guys operate in the Shotover Canyon on the Shotover River and they are the most famous company in Queenstown.
Real NZ Jet – This is the other company that operates from the Queenstown Wharf. They are the cheapest company in Queenstown and offer a 25-minute and 1-hour ride.
Skippers Canyon Jet – This is another company operating in the Shotover River, however, their tour is in Skipper Canyon. This canyon is said to be narrower so the ride is supposed to be really scary!
Dart River Adventures – This is easily the most unique jet boating tour. It’s actually in Glenorchy and goes down the Dart River to an area literally called Paradise. The tour is the most expensive but it includes the scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, jet boating, a nature walk, and then a bus tour back. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Glenorchy!
With so many options it can be hard to choose a tour operator. With that said, each company has its own advantages. For the most thrilling experience go with Skippers Canyon Jet or Shotover Jet, for the most convenience, go with K-Jet or Go orange Jet, and for the most adventurous go with Dart River Adventures!
20. Visit one of Queenstown’s many cafés
Few things are as relaxing on a rainy day as enjoying a coffee in one of Queenstown’s many cute cafés. In Queenstown, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes, but there are a few that I personally visit on a regular basis and love.
My top choice is VuDu Café. This small, but bustling café, is located in the heart of Queenstown and they serve not only an amazing hot brew but also great food. They have two small tables out the front, and you’ll often find me here with my partner working on the blog or planning adventures.
Another great option if you want to enjoy your coffee with a breathtaking view is Patagonia Chocolates. From the second floor of the café, you can sip your coffee in style. They also sell amazing chocolate (duh it’s in the name) and ice cream!
21. Wine and dine in Queenstown
Last but certainly not least is an obvious one, but without the right recommendations, you won’t know the best places to go. Once again you’re spoilt for choice, but don’t stress, there are a few stand-out restaurants in Queenstown to wine and dine at.
Where do I start? Oh that’s right, Italian! Farelli’s Totaria is my favorite place to go for fresh, homemade pasta. Seriously it’s so good!
For something different, try Blue Kanu. They serve Polynesian food with an Asian twist and every dish is amazing (especially the duck nachos and golden shrimp!)
If you’re a steak lover and don’t mind spending a bit more then Jervois Steak House is the best place to go in Queenstown. Every steak is cooked to perfection and they only use the best quality meat! Be sure to reserve a table here in advance as they are often full.
You can also go on a guided dinner tour with wine pairings. This is a dinner experience in Queenstown that’s highly raved about!
If it’s raining in Queenstown, go out for a delicious meal, you’ll feel better!
22. Let out your frustrations out at SMASHIT
Need to let out some anger? Well, luckily for you Queenstown’s newest attraction SMASHIT will help you do just that.
For only $35 NZD you’ll get geared up with your friends before entering a room full of breakable items. Then, with your weapon of choice in hand, you’re free to break as much as you possibly can! You literally will become a ‘bull in a China shop.’ This is even a great activity in Queenstown for those traveling with teenagers since those as young as 12 can give it go.
SMAHIT Queenstown is located right in central Queenstown on Shotover Street.
23. Choose a thrill at a 12-D Motion Theatre
A 12-D Motion Theatre experience is an immersive version of traditional movie theatres. You will get to choose between 80 different simulations where you can do an escape mission, ride a rollercoaster, take out a pack of zombies, and more! It’s a thrill that is fun for both adults and kids. For $35 NZD per adult and you will get a 15-minute time slot that allows you time for 3 different VR experiences.
24. Take a wellness day
If the weather is not in your favor you can take a few hours (or a whole day!) to focus on your body. In Queenstown, there are lots of choices to pick from.
A massage is always a staple idea when you want to fully relax or improve areas of soreness (maybe from all that hiking, am I right?). At Body Sanctum Day Spa, right in the town center, you can choose from deep tissue, maternity, hot stone, and reflexology massages that last 1 or 1.5 hours long.
Willing to brave an intense blast of cold with a Cryotherapy session? While sitting in an extra cold room for a few minutes isn’t a relaxing experience the after-effects will prove otherwise.
Cryotherapy has lots of great benefits! During this time, the blood near the skin reroutes to your main arteries to keep you warm. That blood fills with oxygen and takes all of the nutrients back to your skin and muscle tissues. It helps with inflation, helps relieve pain, soothes swollen joints, and accelerates healing. Not to mention you’ll also feel rejuvenated from the release of endorphins!
Completely shut out reality and take a venture into utter relaxation with a 60-minute float tank session with complete darkness. The warm tank is filled with epsom salt-filled that will help sore muscles recover. Once inside, you will experience an hour without gravity, sight, sound, or touch. After, you will come out feeling relaxed and hopefully ready for more exploring!
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. It’s not that you won’t find something later on, but that all the really good places go first!
To get you started, here are a few places I personally love and that would make an awesome place to stay in Queenstown.
The first is for budget travelers and that’s Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This small hostel has dorm rooms and budget privates 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! It is easily one of the top cheap hostels in Queenstown.
If you have a little more money to spend then you should seriously consider Chalet Queenstown. I’m a supporter of smaller hotels because I feel you get better service. Based on recommendations, I stayed at Chalet Queenstown when I first arrived. It’s a beautiful hotel in a quiet but close location and the views are amazing (although you won’t find me recommending a place without great views!)
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know the luxury travelers, then you’re going to be spoiled for choice in Queenstown. I’ve personally stayed at the Hilton Resort and Spa on my anniversary and loved it. If you want an even more luxurious stay, look at Kamana Lakehouse. This hotel has the most beautiful spa overlooking the lake and is definitely one of the best hotels in Queenstown.
There are also lots of amazing Airbnbs in Queenstown as well as bach/holiday homes to rent! You can choose between modern homes, central apartments, cozy cabins, and so much more when staying in an Airbnb.
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 is what most budget backpackers get 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! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- 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. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Thanks for reading!
Although many of the best things to do in Queenstown are better on days when it’s not raining, this list gives visitors some other options. Because let’s face it, not every day during your visit to Queenstown will the weather be amazing (unless you’re extremely lucky.) So it’s best to plan a few other activities just in case!
I hope this list has helped you plan your upcoming trip. If it did, then be sure to browse around. I have so many blogs about Queenstown and New Zealand that will make your holiday much easier to plan and also show you lots of hidden gems! I’ve also laid out a few of my favorite blogs below that I really think you might like.
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