Queenstown is without a doubt New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination. During peak times, this small town becomes one of the most vibrant places on earth. But there’s more to Queenstown than Fergburger, bungy, and hikes. In fact, there are a ton of fun and exciting things to do in Queenstown!
I first visited Queenstown as part of my south island itinerary, and not long after, packed my bags and moved there. I loved Queenstown that much! Part of my passion for this tiny town comes from the huge variety of things to do and see there. Even as a local, I am still discovering new activities and hidden gems in Queenstown to explore daily!
So if you’re lucky enough to visit Queenstown, I want you to know all of your options when it comes to things to do and how to spend your very precious time. For that reason, I’ve compiled this huge comprehensive list of 75 epic things to do in Queenstown. My hopes are, that this blog helps you plan your time in Queenstown in a way that is the absolute best for you!
Here are the 75 best things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand!
- Things to do in Queenstown Center
- 1. Ride the gondola to Bob’s Peak
- 2. Cruise Lake Wakatipu
- 3. Stuff your face at Fergburger
- 4. Watch a sunset over Lake Wakatipu
- 5. Explore the Queenstown Gardens
- 6. Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park
- 7. Attend the Queenstown Arts and Craft Market
- 8. Drink local craft beer
- 9. BBQ at St Omer Park
- 10. Go to Fear Factory
- 11. Party the night away
- 12. Eat Pacific-Islander food at Blue Kanu
- 13. Drink at an Ice Bar
- 14. Go Shopping
- 15. Visit the Remarkable Sweet Shop
- 16. Indulge with ice cream and chocolate at Patagonia
- 17. Eat pizza at Queenstown’s oldest restaurant
- 18. Try a New Zealand meat pie
- 19. Eat vegan at Lord of the Fries food truck
- 20. Enjoy cheap drinks at happy hour
- Adventure Activities in Queenstown
- 21. Ride the Luge
- 22. Go on a quad tour
- 23. Bungy Jumping
- 24. Shotover Canyon Giant Rope Swing
- 25. Skydiving
- 26. Indoor skydiving
- 27. Parasailing
- 28. Paragliding
- 29. Hang gliding
- 30. Via Ferrata and rock climbing
- 31. Canyoning
- 32. Whitewater rafting and Funyaks
- 33. Jet boating
- 34. Jet skiing or Hydro Attack
- 35. Mountain biking
- 36. Skiing or snowboarding
- 37. Kayaking or paddleboarding
- 38. Riverboarding
- 39. Heli-ski or heli-bike
- 40. Ziplining
- Must-Do Hikes and Walks in Queenstown
- Scenic Things to do and Places to Explore in Queenstown
- Things to do Inside in Queenstown
- Day Trips from Queenstown and Things to do Nearby
- Thanks for reading!
Things to do in Queenstown Center
There are a lot of attractions and activities right in the heart of downtown Queenstown (or Queenstown town center.) These are things you can likely do right from your hotel without having to arrange transport at all! These are activities that make Queenstown the lively little bustling town that it is!
1. Ride the gondola to Bob’s Peak
The gondola in Queenstown takes visitors up 450 meters (1,476 feet) to the top of Bob’s Peak in a quick 5-minute ride. It’s from here that you’ll see that famous view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and The Remarkables – it’s stunning!
The gondola leaves from the station at the end of Brecon Street right in Queenstown town center. The ride costs $46 NZD for adults and $32 NZD for children. Package deals are available if you pair the gondola ride with the Luge (more on that below), lunch or dinner buffets, as well as other experiences like stargazing tours.
Other things to do at the top of the gondola at Bob’s Peak include ziplining, paragliding, hiking, and downhill mountain biking. But even if none of that interests you, the gondola ride alone is worthy of your time simply for the view – just be sure to go on a clear day when the clouds won’t block that picture-perfect photo.
The gondola runs every day all year round but times vary depending on the season and day of the week.
2. Cruise Lake Wakatipu
A scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu is another great way to take in Queenstown’s beautiful scenery. Cruises depart from right in town and head along Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy and back.
There are two different scenic cruises you can choose between in Queenstown. The first cruise is on the Spirit of Queenstown vessel operated by Southern Discoveries and involves riding on a catamaran. This cruise goes the furthest along the lake, and it’s also one of the cheapest things to do in Queenstown at about $40 NZD per person. For an extra special experience, you can book their sunset dining cruise and wine and dine with some of the best views around!
The other scenic cruise is onboard the TSS Earnslaw operated by Real Journeys. It’s the last remaining vessel from the gold rush and somewhat of a historic experience. The TSS Earnslaw is a traditional coal-powered ship where you can actually observe workers shoveling coal into the burner as you cruise along the lake. You can combine this scenic cruise with a gourmet BBQ lunch that is super tasty and one of the best meals you can have in Queenstown – trust me on this!
I’ve done both cruises and honestly can say they are both great! The TSS Earnslaw is unique in the fact it is coal-powered, but it is also always a lot busier onboard and almost double the price. The Spirit of Queenstown is a more relaxing journey with a smaller group on board and plenty of space. Ultimately the choice is yours, but just do one or the other, there is no need to do both.
3. Stuff your face at Fergburger
Fergburger is arguably the most popular place to eat in Queenstown. Visitors from all over the world come to try what many claims to be the best burger in New Zealand (and even the world!) Seriously, Fergburger is so popular that you’ll find a line-up out the door even at 10 am!
Before I ate there for myself I was unsure if the hype was warranted, but now I’m totally sold. The bun is fresh, the patty is juicy, and the selection of sauces and cheese make this quick burger meal feel gourmet. They have a selection of different burgers available including a vegetarian option, but my personal favorite is the Classic Ferg with blue cheese – don’t judge me until you try it! Eating at Fergburger is one of those “must-do” things to do in Queenstown as a tourist.
Ferg is open daily from 8 am to 4:30 am (you read that right, that’s 18.5 hours!) If you want to skip the line, phone in your order and pick it up for takeout (that’s what us locals always do!)
4. Watch a sunset over Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is Queenstown’s crown jewel and every afternoon many visitors gather on her shores to watch the last few hours of light. From Lake Wakatipu’s shoreline right in Queenstown, you have one of the best viewpoints as the sun sets behind the Southern Alps.
Some of the best places to watch the sunset in Queenstown include a couple of different restaurant patios on Steamer Warf. Check out Little Blackwood, Public, or Perky’s Floating Bar. All of these places have lake views and extensive food and beverage menus.
Another option is to head to Queenstown Beach where you can watch the sunset for free! A fun insider fact about Queenstown Beach is that you can actually legally drink alcohol until 10 pm, so BYO cheeky sunset drink and enjoy nature’s colorful show!
5. Explore the Queenstown Gardens
Easily one of the best things to do in Queenstown is to wander the botanical gardens. The Queenstown Gardens are located right in town, are free to visit, and are simply stunning – why not go check them out! There is a 2-kilometer (1.2 mi) loop you can walk through the gardens that take you along Lake Wakatipu’s shoreline, through a forest, and of course, among flowers and perfectly manicured garden beds. In the Spring, the Queenstown Gardens are in full bloom making them even more special to visit.
You can also choose to see the same sights via segway! That’s right, this small group tour will take you on the same loop by the lake and through the gardens and you can pick the 1-hour tour which is more condensed or the 2-hour version which allows you to get off and walk around and have enough time for your guide to share information about the different viewpoints.
One of the other interesting features of the gardens is the disc golf course (frisbee golf.) You can bring your own frisbee and test your skills on the free course. This is a favorite pastime of many Queenstown locals, but there’s no reason tourists can’t join in on the fun. You do need to bring your own frisbee, which you can rent from the Ice Arena in Queenstown for only a few dollars.
6. Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park
New Zealand is world-famous for having incredible birdlife. In fact, this island nation was once a sanctuary for many birds and free of predators. Thanks to us humans though, introduced species like stouts, possums, and cats now pose a threat to many unique birds and populations are dwindling as we speak.
Luckily in Queenstown, we have the Kiwi Birdlife Park which is a wildlife refuge for native bird and animal species!
Visitors can explore the park to see some of these birds for themselves including the New Zealand Kiwi bird. There are daily shows where you can watch birds get fed and learn about the park’s conservation efforts. It costs $60 NZD for an adult to visit including watching any shows, and child and family rates are also available.
Keep in mind that while there are captive animals, it is a conservation program. The park helps heal injured birds from the area as well as manages breeding programs for endangered species working closely with the DOC. So, your entrance fee helps support the program!
You can find the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown near the gondola station on Brecon Street. The park is open all year round (except for Christmas Day) from 9 am to 5 pm.
You can easily book your tickets to enjoy the Kiwi Birdlife Park in advance online!
7. Attend the Queenstown Arts and Craft Market
Every Saturday many local artists set up small stalls on the waterfront in town (Earnslaw Park) to sell their handmade goods. Here is where you’ll find that special gift for a loved one back home or a souvenir to remember your trip. Not only will you find unique gifts and items here, but you’ll support local vendors and have fun at the same time interacting with everyone, sampling tasty treats, and listening to talented buskers.
This Arts and Craft market opens at 9 am in summer and 9:30 am in winter and closes at 4:30 pm and 3:30 pm respectively. It’s free to visit, but do bring some cash as I highly doubt you’ll be able to leave empty-handed!
8. Drink local craft beer
New Zealand’s craft beer scene is exploding and many bars in Queenstown have taken advantage of that by stocking a huge variety of local brews. Some of the best bars to visit if you want to try a selection of Queenstown’s local craft beer include Atlas on the waterfront and Smiths on Shotover Street. Here, the taps are constantly changing and the beers are flowing.
You can also skip the bars and just go straight to the source by going to one of Queenstown’s local breweries. Located on the outskirts of Queenstown are a few local breweries you can visit yourself. The two main ones are Altitude and Searchlight. At both places, you can taste some great local beers and meet the two pioneers behind Queenstown’s craft beer scene!
If you’re after a more in-depth insight into Queenstown’s craft breweries then simply touring around yourself just won’t do it. With a craft brewery tour, you’ll get a local guide with local knowledge and hit all of the best breweries while trying the best beers. Most tours visit around 4 breweries and include lunch.
I’ve personally done this wine and beer tour and it is amazing. In a full confession, I’ve actually done it twice (I just had to take my mom on it!) You’ll visit boutique wineries and local breweries getting tipsy along the way. You’ll be driven around in a luxurious Mercedes minivan – a feature that you’ll only find on this one particular tour.
9. BBQ at St Omer Park
St Omer Park right in downtown Queenstown has a ton of free public BBQs available for use. As such, it’s a popular place for people to gather while BBQing right on the lake’s edges. Stop at the grocery store and grab a few items before beading down and having a cook-up. It’s a great place to go especially if your accommodation in Queenstown doesn’t have a BBQ for you to use!
I do need to warn you though, in the summer months this is a popular spot, and grabbing a BBQ can be a little tricky. Get to St Omer Park early to get a BBQ, or, visit during the week when it’s less busy.
10. Go to Fear Factory
Fear Factory in Queenstown claims to be New Zealand’s scariest haunted house. And while I haven’t been to any other haunted house in NZ, I have to admit, it is pretty scary!
As you walk through the haunted house you’ll encounter various actors and characters that make the haunted house come to life. Don’t worry though, if at any point the house becomes too scary you can yell “I chicken out” to be brought directly to the exit. You’ll join over 23,000 other people who also were not able to complete the experience – a testament to how scary Fear Factory in Queenstown really is!
Prices change seasonally, but you can often snag a deal for about $40 NZD per adult. Fear Factory is centrally located on Shotover Street and you can book your visit online in advance.
11. Party the night away
For such a little town, there is a lot of nightlife in Queenstown. Any night of the week you can find a party in central Queenstown by choosing from one of the many bars. Some of the most popular places to visit in Queenstown if you’re looking for a fun night out include 1876, Bunker, Surreal, The Sundeck, Cowboys, and World Bar. All of these bars are located within walking distance of each other so you can easily check a few out in one night.
If you want to head out in a group, you can join one of the organized pub crawls in Queenstown. Most nights of the week, large groups of partiers head out on the town and visit 5 bars and clubs. You can choose between a classic pub crawl or a more unique “ice bar” pub crawl in Queenstown!
Whatever you do, promise me you’ll ride the mechanical bull at Cowboys – no proper night-out in Queenstown is complete until you jump on that mechanical bull!
12. Eat Pacific-Islander food at Blue Kanu
My absolute favorite restaurant in Queenstown is Blue Kanu. Just ask my fiance, for every birthday, anniversary, or whenever somebody comes to visit us in Queenstown we go to Blue Kanu – it’s just that good!
Blue Kanu offers a unique menu that is a fusion of Pacific Island and Asian cuisine. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, yet casual, and they often have live music. Every time I visit I get the Duck Nachos (don’t knock it until you try it!), the Golden Shrimp, and Pork Ribs. They also make the best Pina Colada I’ve ever had. Yeah, I really like this place.
Blue Kanu is located on Church Street and is open daily from 5 pm. It isn’t necessarily a cheap place to eat, but if you’re on the ball enough you can score 50% off if you book using First Table (another local secret…you’re welcome!)
13. Drink at an Ice Bar
One of the most popular things to do for tourists in Queenstown is to have a drink at one of the ice bars in town. At an ice bar, you can have a drink or a shot out of a cup made completely of ice from a bar made of ice. You’ll get all geared up in warm clothing before entering a freezing room where almost everything is made from ice!
There are actually two different ice bars located in central Queenstown, Minus 5° ICE BAR and Below Zero Ice Bar. Both offer more or less the same experience so you really only need to visit one or the other. It usually costs around $32 NZD to visit an ice bar with an included drink. They have different shots, cocktails, or even non-alcoholic drinks available. This is also just a quick activity that can be done in under half an hour.
If you want to get your money’s worth for this outing you can join this bar crawl tour that stops at one of the ice bars and includes your ticket for admission along with a shot at each of the 5 bars for just $30 NZD
14. Go Shopping
You don’t need to visit a big city to do some shopping as Queenstown has some really great stores to check out. Between Rees Street and Camp Street, there are a couple of pedestrian-only streets that are lined with stores. From souvenir shops to high-end international stores like Louis Vuitton, there are lots of options when it comes to shopping in Queenstown.
15. Visit the Remarkable Sweet Shop
Fudge and candy are what the Remarkable Sweet Shop is known for- oh, and free samples! If you’ve got a sweet tooth then this is one place you’ll want to check out in Queenstown! Try some locally made chocolate or fudge, or even get some to go. The selection is huge and it’s a really fun place to visit.
The Remarkable Sweet Shop is so popular that there are actually a couple of locations around Queenstown. There is one on Beach Street right in town, one in the airport, and one in Arrotwton only 20-minutes away. Hours differ based on location, but they are almost always open between 10 am and 7 pm.
Tasting fudge at the Remarkable Sweet Shop is one of the best free things to do in Queenstown!
16. Indulge with ice cream and chocolate at Patagonia
This is another one for those of you with a sweet tooth!
The truth is I probably didn’t need to include Patagonia Chocolates on this list because once you’re in Queenstown, you’ll find the place for yourself. Located right next to Earnslaw Park on the corner of Rees Street, Patagonia Chocolates is a huge two-story shop complete with a chocolate factory on-site (that you can watch) and a cafe. Here, you can order baked goods, chocolate, or ice cream to go. Or, you can choose to sit down and have a famous Patagonia hot chocolate.
I personally recommend grabbing a seat upstairs where you can enjoy your chocolate with an epic view of Lake Wakatipu!
Patagonia Chocolates is open daily from 8:30 am to 9 pm on weekdays and 10 pm on the weekends. If the line-up is too long for you, don’t worry, there are other locations you can visit instead at the Queenstown Airport, in Wanaka, or in Arrowtown.
17. Eat pizza at Queenstown’s oldest restaurant
The Cow is Queenstown’s oldest restaurant that has been around for more than 40 years. Walking into The Cow will make you feel like you stepped back in time. The exposed wooden beams, chandeliers, and fireplace make the place feel historic and cozy. On a cold winter’s night, it’s a really beautiful place to relax in Queenstown with a glass of red wine.
This small rustic Italian restaurant isn’t just old though, they also serve up arguably the best pizza in town!
These guys don’t take reservations (they are that good they don’t need to) so if you want a table get there early or be prepared to wait! I normally show up before 6 pm and have no problem getting a table. If you wait until 6:30 or 7 pm, expect to have to wait for at least an hour.
The Cow restaurant is located on Cow Lane in central Queenstown and is open daily from 12 pm to 12 am.
18. Try a New Zealand meat pie
If you’ve never had a meat pie before then now’s your chance! Similar to Britain and Australia, meat pies are a common food eaten in New Zealand. Being a Canadian myself means the concept of a meat pie was once foreign to me, but it sure isn’t now! I love meat pies – especially the ones I get in Queenstown!
A meat pie is a handheld pastry just like a normal pie filled with a combination of meat and gravy. Common flavors include steak and cheese, butter chicken, lamb, and a whole bunch more! You’ll find meat pies offered at most bakeries and corner stores across New Zealand.
If you want a really tasty meat pie, try one from the Ferg Bakery in Queenstown (yes, the same owners as Fergburger.) They always have fresh meat pies and the steak and mushroom flavor is to die for! Expect to pay around $5 NZD for one which will feed one person as a snack or small lunch.
There are two Ferg Bakeries in Queenstown, but the one with the most selection of meat pies is called Fergbaker which is located on Shotover Street right next door to Fergburger.
19. Eat vegan at Lord of the Fries food truck
Okay, enough talk about meat pies, I didn’t forget about the vegetarians and vegans!
Lord of the Fries is an all-vegan food truck located in Queenstown. The food there is so good that I actually recommend it to anybody looking for a quick takeaway lunch! I’m personally not a vegetarian, but I do like to be conscious of my meat intake and limit it when possible. When I’m out and about in downtown Queenstown, Lord of the Fries is my go-to lunch spot for 100% vegan nuggets with a side of fries.
20. Enjoy cheap drinks at happy hour
Hitting up happy hour deals in Queenstown is the only way to drink for cheap in this moderately overpriced tourist town. Daily happy hour deals often include cheap drinks and snacks. Some places to check out for happy hour in Queenstown include:
- 1876 – 4-6 pm daily with $4 NZD drinks and a discounted food menu
- Morrisons Irish Pub – 5-7 pm on Fridays, Sundays $8 NZD pints, Monday 8-10 pm
- World Bar – 4-5 pm and 9-11 pm daily with $7 NZD tap beers.
- Miss Lucy’s – 4-7 pm daily with differing specials on both food and drinks.
You’d be surprised how cheap you can drink in Queenstown – you just need to know where to look!
Adventure Activities in Queenstown
As the adventure capital of New Zealand, it’s no wonder that some of the best things to do in Queenstown are activities that’ll get your heart racing. The next 16 things to do listed in this blog are all Queenstown adventure-based activities, you know, the crazy ones that get that adrenaline pumping!
21. Ride the Luge
The most family-friendly adventure activity in Queenstown is riding the Luge! This gravity-pulled go-kart will have you racing down a track on the side of a mountain! The best part is that you control the speed, so if you’re nervous about it, just use the break and have a more controlled ride. But if you’re looking for a thrill, then let go of that break and you’ll fly (seriously, over the jumps you’ll get real air!)
Many people think the Luge is a lame adventure activity because, in all honesty, it doesn’t look like much. I once thought this too, and then I rode the thing and had a blast. It really is a thrilling ride if you want it to be!
The Luge is located at the Skyline building up at the top of Bob’s Peak. This means you must either hike the Tiki Trail or ride the gondola to get there. If you choose to ride the gondola, consider buying a package deal with the gondola and luge included as you’ll get a discount this way. Also, you need to buy at least two Luge rides, one is never enough and they make you go down the slow track on your first time. Round two is when you get to have all the fun!
22. 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 on Queenstown Hill on a guided quad biking tour. Your guide will teach you everything you need to know before setting off enjoying 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.
23. Bungy Jumping
Queenstown is the home of bungy jumping! AJ Hackett ran the first-ever commercial bungy jump in the world here in Queenstown in 1987. Since then, bungy jumping has become one of those bucket-list things to do in Queenstown and around the world!
In Queenstown, you have your choice of not one, but three different bungy jumps! Below I’ve compared them all for you:
- Height: 47 meters (154 feet)
- Location: Bob’s Peak near Skyline Queenstown
- Tandem Allowed: No
- Price: $205 NZD
- The best part: Although only a 47-meter jump, the location on the side of a mountain makes it seem higher. Plus, the views are awesome!
- Height: 43 meters (141 feet)
- Location: Kawarau Bridge (about a 20-minute drive from town center)
- Tandem Allowed: YES!
- Price: $205 NZD
- The best part: From Queenstown, you can bungy and be back in under 2 hours at this location. You are also allowed to tandem jump here or even go naked (if you’re into that…)
- Height: 134 meters (440 feet)
- Location: Nevis River 1.5 hours from Queenstown (must take their 4wd bus to get there)
- Tandem Allowed: no
- Price: $275 NZD
- The best part: It’s New Zealand’s highest bungy (3rd biggest in the world with over 8 seconds of free fall!) Once you’re out there, you can pair the bungy with the Nevis Swing and Catapult which are other popular Queenstown adventure experiences.
24. Shotover Canyon Giant Rope Swing
If bungy jumping sounds like fun, but just a little bit too extreme then the Shotover Canyon Swing in Queenstown will be perfect for you! Like bungy, you’ll hurl yourself off a 109-meter high platform (358 feet) directly into the Shotover Canyon. You’ll free fall for 60 meters (197 feet) before swinging out into the canyon on a giant rope swing! It’s both exciting and scenic.
The Shotover Canyon Swing is located at, you guessed it, the stunning Shotover Canyon. So really, it isn’t far from Queenstown. A bonus to this tour is that it also includes transport from Queenstown.
It is a unique adventure activity in Queenstown, and the perfect option for those who just can’t quite get the nerve to do bungy jumping, but still want a similar adrenaline-filled experience.
Like most adventure tours in Queenstown, the Shotover Canyon Swing should be booked in advance to secure your spot.
The only adventure activity that compares in terms of thrill to bungy is, of course, skydiving! I’ve personally skydived twice in my life, once in Canada and once in Australia. Although I haven’t had the chance to skydive in Queenstown (yet) it’s definitely something I’ve heard awesome things about!
In Queenstown, you have the choice between a few different skydiving experiences. You can book right in town and choose between 9000 feet, 12000 feet, and 15000 feet jumps. The difference between these jumps is the amount of freefall time and the price. The 15000-foot jump is the most expensive but offers the longest free fall time.
Alternatively, for a super cool experience, you can also book this full-day tour to Mount Cook that includes a 9,000 ft skydive. That’s right, you’ll experience NZ’s tallest mountain (Mount Cook) from up in the sky! Although a long day, Mount Cook is a must-see destination on the South Island.
26. Indoor skydiving
If real skydiving is too much of a thrill for you, maybe indoor skydiving would be a better option. Queenstown is the only place in New Zealand where you can actually go indoor skydiving. At iFLY Queenstown, you enter a wind tunnel where you fly weightlessly without actually jumping out of a plane. It’s perfect for those who are afraid of heights!
The indoor skydiving center is located right in Queenstown town center on Brecon Street. It is open most days but expect to pay a heft price of about $99 NZD for their beginner package (two flights of 60 seconds each.) This is easily one of the best indoor activities in Queenstown!
Parasailing is another one of those iconic things to do in Queenstown. From out on Lake Wakatipu, you fly high into the air taking in views like no other!
Parasailing in Queenstown departs from the water’s edge near Earnslaw Park at Queenstown Paraflights. You can fly solo, tandem, or in a triple making it a fun family activity. That’s right, kids are allowed to go parasailing too! Parasailing is available all year round and they can guarantee you won’t get wet!
Price per person depends on the number of people flying at once, but expect to pay between $100-$200 NZD per adult with discounted child prices available too.
Similar but different to parasailing is paragliding! Instead of being pulled behind a boat, you’ll fly off the edge of a mountain! To me, paragliding is much more thrilling than parasailing and well worth doing in Queenstown.
It’s an adrenaline rush as you go running off the edge of a mountain (attached to a professional of course.) However, once you’ve been in the air for a few minutes it becomes a lot more relaxing and you can really just enjoy the view.
29. Hang gliding
Hang gliding is similar to paragliding in the fact that you’ll run off a mountain and sore into the air! Instead of being seated beneath a parachute though, you’ll be laying under a pair of hang gliding “wings.”
To be honest, I’ve never been hang-gliding before (yes, another thing to do in Queenstown added to my bucket list.) But from speaking to people who have done both hang gliding and paragliding, it sounds like hang gliding is much more extreme since you’ll move faster through the air. Paragliding is a lot slower and more relaxing, whereas hang gliding will probably get your heart rate up a little more.
Expect to pay around $250 NZD for a hang gliding flight, and you can secure your spot online in advance.
30. Via Ferrata and rock climbing
Rock climbers love Queenstown. With tons of cliff faces to explore, experienced rock climbers from all over the world come to Queenstown to test their skills.
But even if you’ve never rock climbed before you can learn in Queenstown. There are rock climbing tours available for beginners as well as my personal favorite, Via Ferrata. Via Ferrata is a style of rock climbing where you are assisted with iron steps and ladders. I’ve done the Via Ferrata tour in Queenstown and absolutely loved it! Not only was I able to climb very high (higher than even experienced rock climbers could), I felt safe and required no skills or previous experience.
I must caution you though, both rock climbing and Via Ferrata are not activities for those who are afraid of heights. I don’t consider myself to be scared of heights, but when I was climbing the side of a mountain my knees were getting weak and I avoided looking down – you get up really high!
Rock climbing and Via Ferrata are generally summer-only activities in Queenstown and prices depend on the type of tour you choose.
Canyoning in Queenstown is awesome! Seriously though, I’ve been on a couple of different canyoning tours before and the one I did in Queenstown was my favorite. It was thrilling, a little bit scary at times, but also super fun. I jumped off cliffs, repelled down waterfalls, floated in the river, and so much more as I made my way through a canyon.
There are many different canyoning experiences you can choose from in Queenstown including half-day and full-day options. Personally, I think the half-day experience is enough though and the one I did was a ton of fun.
There are a few things to know about canyoning though. First of all, it is primarily a water activity and you should be comfortable swimming and jumping into the water. You should also have a certain level of comfort with heights and be fit enough for a short hike uphill at the beginning. All gear is provided and all you need to bring is a swimsuit and a change of clothes at the end. The wetsuits are thick enough to keep you warm even in freezing water (trust me, I went at the beginning of spring when they first opened.)
Canyoning in Queenstown costs around $219 NZD per person for a half-day tour. You can only go canyoning during the summer months but they normally open in Spring after any floods from snow melting and close in the fall.
32. Whitewater rafting and Funyaks
For something a little less extreme than canyoning, try whitewater rafting or Funyaks in Queenstown! Whitewater rafting experiences from Queenstown are all family-friendly and not too crazy. Expect a scenic float with a few rapids and laughs along the way. But if you do want something a little crazier, this particular tour is the one to go with!
Funyaks are blow-up kayaks great for exploring the rivers around Queenstown. In Queenstown, Funyak tours run on the Dart River through the beautiful canyon areas. These tours are great for the whole family, similar to whitewater rafting.
Plan for half to full-day trips on both of these tours. Prices change seasonally and discounts are available for families and children but expect to pay around $150 NZD per person. There is even a Funyak tour that includes a jet boating ride! This would be the best value for money if you want to try a couple of different water sports while in Queenstown!
33. Jet boating
Jet boating is easily the most popular adventure tour in Queenstown. Fun for the whole family, jet boating is a quick tour that is also affordable. Jet boat tours will have you racing down rivers and around lakes doing 360-degree spins and sudden stops. You will get wet, but don’t worry, splash-proof gear is provided.
One of the best things about jet boating is that for an adventure tour, it’s the most affordable option in Queenstown. In fact, you can often find 30-minute jet boating experiences for as little as $79 NZD. I did the 60-minute KJet ride that departs from the main pier in Queenstown and it cost me $101 NZD. It was a lot of fun and I laughed the entire ride!
Jet boating tours are available all year round and there are several different operators to choose from including:
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 – 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 convenient location, go with K-Jet or Real NZ Jet; and for the most adventurous ride, go with Dart River Adventures!
34. Jet skiing or Hydro Attack
The calm waters of Lake Wakatipu make for the perfect opportunity to go jet skiing! You can choose between going on a guided jet ski tour with a professional driver, or rent a jet ski and drive yourself. From the main pier in Queenstown, you’ll find Water Sport World, which hires our jet skis starting from $120 NZD for 30 minutes, as well as guided tours for $299 NZD for an hour.
An alternative to jet skiing is a unique Queenstown experience called Hydro Attack. Hydro Attack is a cross between a jet ski and a submarine meaning it can both jet across the water and dive down below. They look like sharks and are always out in the water, so even if you don’t want to give it a go, you can see them in action from Steamer Warf.
You cannot rent the Hydro Attack sharks and must ride with a designated driver. This is a super popular activity and should be booked online in advance to secure a time.
35. Mountain biking
Mountain biking is Queenstown’s extreme summer sport. People come from all over to mountain bike Queentown’s trails. The most popular mountain biking trails in Queenstown are the downhill ones from the top of Bob’s Peak. You can purchase daily lift passes that’ll take you and your bike up the mountain as many times as you want. This is perfect for those who don’t want to have to ride uphill to get the thrill of the downhill.
Another option is to visit Cardrona. In the winter, Cardrona is a ski resort, but in the summer it is all about mountain biking. They have full-day lift passes that you can purchase online, as well as beginner packages that include all the gear you’re going to need.
Alternatively, if you have your own wheels and bike you can drive up to trails around town like Coronet Peak. Or, this guided tour will take you up to a private trail on Grant Peak with e-bikes!
36. Skiing or snowboarding
Hitting the slopes is the best activity to do in Queenstown in the winter. With three different ski fields all within an hour’s drive, Queenstown is the perfect place to base yourself for a ski or snowboard holiday. With 3 ski fields all within an hour’s drive, skiing in Queenstown is a must!
My personal favorite ski field near Queenstown is The Remarkables. Not only is the drive up there stunning, but the variety of runs for all levels is great! The Remarkables is only a 45-minute drive from Queenstown and you can either drive yourself or take a shuttle bus from town. Here they also offer guided snowshoeing tours if you’re a bit unsure about skiing or snowboarding!
Coronet Peak is the closest ski field to Queenstown at under a 30-minute drive. Because of its lower elevation, it often has less snow than the other two ski fields and can be a little icy. Coronet Peak offers night skiing a couple of times a week though which is a lot of fun! They have a DJ and big floodlights to allow you to ski or snowboard after the sun goes down – and party too!
The last ski field near Queenstown is Cardrona. Cardrona is actually closest to Wanaka and one of the best things to do there, but it’s still easily accessible from Queenstown with about an hour-long drive. Cardrona is by far the largest ski resort in the area and offers a ton of different lifts, runs, and parks for all abilities. This is where the professionals come to train too. You can buy Cardrona lift passes or the full-day lessons package online in advance.
Ski passes can be bought in Queenstown in the form of day passes, multi-day passes, or season passes. Ski and snowboard rental gear is also available in town or up at the ski hills (with rentals in town being the cheapest.) Shuttles are available to all three ski fields for about $20 NZD for a return ride from downtown Queenstown. Otherwise, you can drive yourself as long as you have snow chains and park for free.
37. Kayaking or paddleboarding
Kayaking or paddleboarding is one of those adventure activities in Queenstown that you can actually do without a tour. Just head to Lake Wakatipu either at Queenstown Beach or One Mile Parking Lot where there are rental shops. Rentals start at around $30 NZD for an hour with discounted daily rates available.
On a beautiful day, paddleboarding is a great way to get some sun and exercise at the same time. The calm waters of Lake Wakatipu are perfect for it and there is a large area that is off-limits to boats. But if you want to explore more of Lake Wakatipu then hiring a kayak is a perfect way. In a kayak, you can head out even further and paddle around with ease. Either way, both are fun activities to do for a couple of hours for cheap!
For something a little different, join this tour that takes you out to Moke Lake for kayaking. Moke Lake is one of those hidden gems in Queenstown, you know, a local hangout that most tourists miss out on. This lake is stunning and from out on the water you’ll have the best views possible.
Have you ever heard of riverboarding before? Well, before coming to Queenstown I hadn’t either!
Riverboarding is essentially whitewater rafting but instead of an inflatable boat, you hold onto a small floating board, kind of like a bodyboard! Although the rapids are smaller than what you typically see whitewater rafting, how close you are to the water makes it all that more extreme.
Riverboarding is offered by only one company in Queenstown, and they offer a few different experiences starting at $235 NZD per person.
39. Heli-ski or heli-bike
If plain old skiing or downhill mountain biking doesn’t sound extreme enough for you, then upgrade to heli-skiing or heli-biking! Although a lot more expensive, this once-in-a-lifetime activity is a combination of backcountry adventure sports and a scenic helicopter flight. The helicopter will take you high over the Southern Alps before dropping you off at a couple of different places where you will ski or snowboard in the winter, and downhill mountain bike in the summer – it sounds incredible!
In all honesty, I haven’t done either simply because you must be at an intermediate to advanced skill level (neither of which I am.) But I have ridden in a helicopter before, and that experience alone is well worth the extra cash! Expect to pay upwards of $1,300 NZD for a heli-ski or heli-bike experience. If you’re savvy though, sometimes you can find special deals on the website Book Me, where discounts are available from time to time.
Of course, this blog of things to do in Queenstown couldn’t be complete without ziplining! Less scary than bungy jumping, ziplining offers panoramic views from high in the air as you speed through the treetops. It’s fun and the views are stunning!
There are a couple of different zipline experiences available in Queenstown. Depending on how many lines you want to do, how much time you have, and you’re budget you can choose from the following zip-lining experiences in Queenstown:
- 3 hour zipline experience – Includes 6 different ziplines, costs $195 NZD, includes the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zipline (21-meter drop!)
- 1 hour zipline experience – Includes 2 different ziplines, costs $99 NZD, includes the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zipline (21-meter drop!)
Please Note: Both ziplining tours mentioned above start at Bob’s Peak, so you’re either going to have to hike the Tiki Trail to get there (next on this blog) or take the Skyline gondola. If you choose the gondola, this price is an additional ($46 NZD) and you need to coordinate your zipline tour start time with the gondola operating times.
I additionally wanted to mention there is a quirky wine and zip lining adventure tour available. In the morning before the wine tour begins you’ll have the ability to opt-in on the zip line!
Must-Do Hikes and Walks in Queenstown
There are some seriously epic hikes to do in Queenstown! In fact, many of the best things to do in and around Queenstown are hikes – which is why this entire section is dedicated to my personal favorite trails! Some of the hikes are more challenging, while some are really easy that anybody can do from Queenstown!
Related Read: The below hikes are all some of the best hiking trails on the South Island of New Zealand – find out what the others are!
41. Tiki Trail
I’ve mentioned the Tiki Trail a few times already in this blog, it is the trail that leads from Queenstown center up to Bob’s Peak (the same place as the gondola!) Seeing the view from Bob’s Peak is a must while visiting Queenstown. So if you’re not riding the gondola, the Tiki Trail is your only option.
Although short, hiking the Tiki Trail isn’t the easiest trail around. It gains about 450 meters (1,476 feet) in elevation over the 2.1 kilometer-long trail (1.3 miles) – so it’s steep! The trail isn’t technical or difficult in that aspect, but it will challenge your fitness and have you huffing and puffing before you know it. It’s a workout, to say the least!
The Tiki Trail starts from the gondola station in Queenstown at the end of Brecon Street. It ends up at the Skyline building at Bob’s Peak and is an out-and-back trail. From the end of the Tiki Trail, you can choose to continue onto Ben Lomond Track…
42. Ben Lomond
Ben Lomond Track is one of my personal favorite trails in Queenstown! It is a challenging hike, but the views are so worth it! The stunning scenery is breathtaking, so much so that it can be almost impossible to describe in words – not even the best mountain quotes can do these views justice. You simply have to see it yourself to believe it.
Ben Lomond Track officially starts at the end of the Tiki Trail at the Skyline building at the top of Bob’s Peak. You can choose to hike the Tiki Trail from Queenstown and then transfer onto Ben Lomond Track, or take skip the Tiki Trail and take the gondola. Riding the gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak takes you directly to the start of Ben Lomond Track and makes the track a lot easier and shorter.
If you hike the entire Ben Lomond Track you will end at the summit of Ben Lomond. The views from here are unrivaled by any hike in the area! However, getting to the summit can be a challenge, and in some cases, dangerous when it’s slippery or icy. For this reason, I only recommend hiking to the saddle when trail conditions aren’t ideal.
From Queenstown, getting to Ben Lomond Summit and back down will have you covering 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) return, and gaining 1483 meters (4846 feet) in elevation. It’s a full-day hike that takes most people around 8 hours.
43. Bob’s Cove Viewpoint Track
Enough with those tough uphill hikes, Bob’s Cove Viewpoint Track is a super quick and easy hike located only 10-minutes from Queenstown! The trail is only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) return and gains about 50 meters (165 feet) in elevation at the halfway point of the loop up to a viewpoint at Picnic Point. The views from the top are of the beautiful Bob’s Cove, Lake Wakatipu, and of course, the surrounding mountains. It’s a unique vantage point unlike anywhere else around Queenstown.
I recommend giving yourself a couple of hours to spend here on a hot summer’s day. There is a beautiful beach area perfect for relaxing and swimming. After you’ve done the hike, cooling off at the beach is exactly what you’ll want to do.
Getting to the Bob’s Cove trailhead is easy with the right directions. The parking lot is located along Queenstown-Glenorchy Road and is marked on Google Maps. You’ll need a car to get there though as there aren’t any buses from Queenstown.
44. Queenstown Hill
Hands down one of the most popular things to do in Queenstown is to hike to the top of Queenstown Hill! Not only are the views from the top fantastic, but this trail also starts from right in Queenstown making it easily accessible. On Belfast Terrace, you’ll find a small parking lot and signs marking the Queenstown Hill trailhead. You can drive here (but might struggle to get parking during the summer months) or walk from downtown Queenstown.
Queenstown Hill Track is an out-and-back trail that takes you high above Queenstown. At the top, you’ll find the Basket of Dreams which is a sculpture meant to inspire dreaming, as well as some seriously impressive viewpoints. The trail is 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) one way and gains about 600 meters (1,969 feet) in elevation from downtown Queenstown.
It is a really well-maintained trail that is easy to follow, and although somewhat steep in areas, not overly challenging. Most people complete the whole thing in under 3 hours.
Quick tip: If you do drive up to the trailhead at Belfast Terrace, you’ll knock a whopping 200 meter (656 feet) elevation gain off this hike!
45. Mt Crichton Loop Track
I’m going to be honest, Mt Crichton Loop Track isn’t my favorite hike in Queenstown, but it’s one of the easiest trails that families typically love. This scenic trail takes you along a creek, to the historic Sam Summers Hut, through an old gold mining tunnel, past a waterfall, and up to a viewpoint. It really does offer a lot considering the entire loop is only 8 kilometers (5 miles) long.
You’ll find Mt Crichton Loop Track trailhead along Queenstown-Glenorchy Road. Along this road, there is a parking lot on your left. If it’s full, you can park at the Twelve Mile Delta parking lot and follow signs from there (you do have to cross the road to get to the beginning of the trail.) Although not the most epic hike, it’s one of the easiest trails near Queenstown and worth doing if you want a quick and diverse trail.
Oh and I almost forgot, the Mt Crichton Loop Track is accessible all year round too!
46. Glenorchy Walkway
Visiting Glenorchy is a must-do day trip from Queenstown (I’ve written about it more further on in this blog.) From this small town, you can access a really quick and interesting hike called the Glenorchy Walkway. This trail starts from the iconic red shed at the lakefront and takes you to the Glenorchy Lagoon. Here, you can explore the lagoon on various boardwalks enjoying the birdlife and mountain reflections.
The Glenorchy Walkway is a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) return hike that is completely flat. It’s a great family-friendly activity in Queenstown that only takes a couple of hours. Although short, it’s one of the top hikes in Glenorchy.
47. Routeburn Track
The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks and it’s easily accessible from Queenstown. From Queenstown, it’s about an hour’s drive to the Routeburn Track trailhead at Routeburn Shelter. The Routeburn Track is 32 kilometers (20 miles) long and ends at The Divide on the other side of the mountains in Fiordland National Park. Most commonly, this hike is done over two or three days where shuttle transport needs to be arranged at one end to bring you back to your vehicle at the start.
However, what many people don’t know is that you can hike parts of the Routeburn Track in one day. The Routeburn Nature Walk is the first portion of the trail that starts at Routeburn Shelter and goes until Routeburn Flats Hut. Hiking this section of the trail is a beautiful walk through the forest with views of the bluest river you’ll ever see!
If you don’t have a car or like having a tour guide there are a few different types of Routeburn guided walks and hikes that you can pick from that depart from Queenstown but the full-day Routeburn Track Hike is the most popular booking choice! You will cover a maximum of 22 kilometers (13 miles) so a moderate fitness level is preferred!
48. Moke Lake Loop
Moke Lake is a beautiful lake located only 20-minutes from Queenstown. Although close to Queenstown, Moke Lake is remote and feels like a truly peaceful escape. While there are a few different things to do at Moke Lake, the most popular is to hike Moke Lake Loop.
This 6.5-kilometer-long (4 miles) loop track takes you around the perimeter of Moke Lake with beautiful mountain views. Moke Lake Loop is a fairly easy track that takes most people around 2 hours to complete. It does have slight inclines and declines, but nothing too difficult. While the trail is open all year round, in the winter months it can be slippery and icy, so do be careful!
Quick tip: You can camp at Moke Lake if you want time to try other activities like kayaking. It is a DOC-operated campground with very few facilities but makes for one of the cheapest places to stay around Queenstown.
49. Moke Lake Viewpoint
If you are up for a little bit more of a challenge, consider skipping Moke Lake Loop Track and hiking to the Moke Lake Viewpoint instead. Moke Lake Viewpoint Trail isn’t an official trail, and as such, is a little challenging to find. With that said, when you do find the trail it is a steep, but short, scramble up to the top of a hill overlooking Moke Lake.
The hike only takes about 30 minutes in total, but it is steep and you really do need to watch your footing. I only recommend hiking this trail in ideal conditions and with sturdy boots.
Hiking to the Moke Lake Viewpoint is one of the more unique things to do in Queenstown, and as such, there’s rarely ever anybody else on the trail and you’ll likely have the view entirely to yourself!
50. Wye Creek Track
Wye Creek Track is a less-known trail only 20 minutes from Queenstown. The trailhead is located along State Highway 6 where you must first walk on a gravel road for a short while before actually jumping on a trail and heading upwards. The trail can be difficult to follow, but if you follow the water pipe then you’re on the right track!
Wye Creek Track is an out-and-back style trail that is 3.5 kilometers long (2.2 miles) one-way. It’s moderately difficult because it is steep in some places. From the top of Wye Creek Track, you’ll have incredible views over Lake Wakatipu from a viewing deck and it all becomes worth the climb.
51. Lake Alta
Lord of the Rings fans, this one is for you! Lake Alta is actually Dimrill Dale in the Lord of the Rings films and you might recognize it from the scene where the fellowship escapes the Mines of Moria.
But even if you’re not a huge LOTR fan (admittedly I am not), Lake Alta is still worth hiking to. The trailhead is actually located up at The Remarkables Ski Field and takes you up to the beautiful alpine lake. It’s an out-and-back trail that is 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles) long in total with an elevation gain of about 200 meters (656 feet.) Most people complete the entire trail in an hour or two. If you want more of a challenge, hike up to the saddle on the north side of the lake for a view from above!
52. Sunshine Bay Track
Sunshine Bay is a small little suburb on the outskirts of Queenstown. It’s home to many Queenstown locals and here you can find a nice beach area and the start of Sunshine Bay Track. This trail takes you up through a forest and then to a viewpoint before heading back down to Sunshine Bay.
53. Big Hill
Big Hill is a hike that starts in Arrowtown, a small town only a 15-minute minute drive from Queenstown. Big Hill is my favorite hike in Arrowtown and one of my favorites around Queenstown.
Big Hill Trail starts at the end of Bush Creek Road and follows the famous Te Araroa Trail until Eichardt’s Flats. Here, you continue on to the Big Hill Saddle. It’s 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) return and takes most people around 5 hours to complete the trail. Big Hill is a moderate difficulty trail.
54. Lake Hayes Walkway
Lake Hayes Walkway is another loop-style track that circles Lake Hayes. It’s an 8-kilometer (5 miles) hike that is fairly flat and easy. When I visit Lake Hayes, I often only walk the track until I find a nice area to relax. To me, there is no need to walk the entire loop and the lake itself as a place to unwind. At sunset, the reflections on the lake are stunning!
Lake Hayes is located about a 15-minute drive from Queenstown and there is public transport options to get there too. Most people visit Lake Hayes in the summer months, however, it is accessible all year round.
55. Roy’s Peak
Roy’s Peak is an iconic hike in New Zealand. Although it’s technically located in Wanaka, I had to include it in this blog because it’s just that amazing of a hike, and let’s face it, Wanaka is only an hour’s drive from Queenstown anyway. I frequently hike Roy’s Peak on a day trip from Queenstown.
Roy’s Peak is not for the faint-hearted though. It’s an 8-kilometer (5 miles) climb to the top, and then you come back down the same trail. You’ll gain over 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) in elevation which makes Roy’s Peak the hardest on this list! With that said, Roys Peak is likely the best free activity you can do in Wanaka!
Scenic Things to do and Places to Explore in Queenstown
I rate Queenstown as one of the most beautiful places in the world, and for that reason, enjoying the scenery is one of the best ways to spend your time!
56. Soak with a view at Onsen Hot Pools
The Onsen Hot Pools are the only place almost as famous as Fergburger in Queenstown and well, it’s for good reason. The Onsen Hot Pools are the only hot pools in Queenstown and they come with one magnificent view!
Located in Arthur’s Point only a 10-minute drive from Queenstown (they also provide transfers or those who need it from Queenstown), Onsen offers private hot pools with their own private view (which is perfect for those looking for a romantic activity in Queenstown!) This luxurious experience does come at a cost though and you can expect to pay $165 NZD for two people in a private pool for one hour – a little pricey for a soak if you ask me!
Nonetheless, people still love Onsen and due to their popularity, you must book this activity well in advance (especially in the winter!) Onsen is often fully booked weeks, if not months in advance.
57. Go Stargazing
Without any equipment, you can enjoy some pretty amazing stars in and around Queenstown. The trick is to get away from the town where you don’t have any lights anywhere near you. My favorite spot is about halfway between Queenstown and Glenorchy on the side of the road. Here, there is next to no light pollution and the stars are insane. Moke Lake is another really great spot for stargazing and you can actually camp there for a small fee.
If you do want to get a closer look then you can join a stargazing tour at the top of the Skyline gondola. With the use of a telescope, you’re able to see the planets and stars much closer! Even if it’s cloudy, Skyline offers an indoor stargazing experience with knowledgeable guides, wine, and snacks!
Or if you don’t want to rent a car while staying in Queenstown you can always check out this 2-day tour that explores tons of incredible views of Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mt. Cook and you will have the option to add in the stargazing option for an additional fee at checkout. While pricey at around $850 NZD per adult (with stargazing) the accommodations for the night in Lake Tekapo are included in the price. Make sure to book in advance to secure the lowest rate possible.
58. Scenic bike ride
In Queenstown, you can rent a bike from one of the rental shops in town and just simply explore its many paths and trails. One of the best in Queenstown is the Frankton Track around to Kelvin Peninsula. It’s a 16.2-kilometer (10 mi) long track that only takes around 2 hours to complete. The trail finishes at Jardine Park, and after, you need to ride or catch the bus back. All the buses in Queenstown have bike racks so it’s no problem at all.
However, if you want a really amazing experience I highly suggest joining this scenic self-guided bicycle tour. It goes through the Gibbston Valley and Arrowtown. It’s 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) long and even includes a stop at a local winery!
59. Scenic flight
Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy the views of Queenstown and the surrounding area is from the sky! Sure, this may not be the cheapest experience, but if you have a few hundred dollars to spare, let me tell you, it’s totally worth it!
When it comes to scenic flights in Queenstown you can choose between either a helicopter or a small fixed-wing plane. You can also choose to just fly around Queenstown and land back in Queenstown, or use the scenic flight as a method of transport to get to a destination such as Milford Sound. Personally, I love helicopter rides, and trust me, from the sky Queenstown is stunning! This helicopter tour is also a great deal and well worth considering for such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you are flying in or out of Queenstown via a large jetplane from the Queenstown International Airport, you’ll also be treated to some pretty special views. Just be sure to book a window seat and cross your fingers that your flight is on a clear day with little to no cloud cover!
60. Lord of the Rings Tour
It’s safe to say that the Lord of the Rings films helped put New Zealand on the tourist map. These movies are so well known that for some, it’s the reason they come here to visit.
Around Queenstown, many of the scenes of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. If you don’t know where they are for yourself then joining a Lord of the Rings tour is the best way to visit them. This particular tour is the one I did and loved! The guide was super knowledgeable and besides telling us about LOTR, he also explained about Queenstown in general.
LOTR tours are also scenic experiences because all of the movie film locations around Queenstown are absolutely breathtaking – Lord of the Rings fan or not, you won’t be able to deny this after visiting!
61. Scenic Farm Tour
Farming has always been New Zealand’s largest industry and around Queenstown, you can visit a few of these working farms and meet the animals while taking in some of the most epic scenery. There are two different farm experiences you can do around Queenstown including the Walter Peak Farm Tour and the Glenorchy Farm Experience, and I’ve done them both!
My personal favorite would be the farm tour to Walter Peak. This tour includes a scenic boat cruise on the TSS Earnslaw as well as a scenic tour once at the farm. The views from this side of the lake are amazing! Plus, tea and snacks are included, the animals are super cute and friendly, and the tour is reasonably priced at about $95 NZD per adult.
But if you’re looking for something cheaper, consider visiting the Glenorchy Animal Farm for only $20 NZD. It’s a self-guided farm experience but still super fun and one of the best things to do in Glenorchy!
Things to do Inside in Queenstown
Queenstown is often famed for being an outdoor adventurers’ paradise, but that’s not to say there aren’t some great things to do inside in Queenstown too. Below are some of the best things to do when it’s raining in Queenstown.
62. Go ice-skating
Many people have no idea that Queenstown actually has its own indoor ice skating rink that is open to the public! If you’ve never been ice skating before then this could be the place to give it a try.
Public ice skating sessions are only $15 NZD per person and include a helmet and skates all day. They also have a new activity I’ve yet to try called Ice Bumper Cars! Imagine your typical bumper car at the fair but on ice. A bumper car ride is also only $15 NZD for 10 minutes.
Queenstown Ice Arena also has a fully stocked bar which might make the bruises from falling down a little less painful – or at least help with your bruised ego. You’ll find the arena right in central Queenstown next to the Queenstown Gardens.
63. Swim at Alpine Aqua Land
Entrance to the pools is only $8.50 NZD for adults and $4 NZD 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 kids 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!
64. Bounce around on a Trampoline
SITE Trampoline is basically just a huge room filled with trampolines and foam pits. It’s seriously a blast 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 NZD for kids under 6. You’ll find SITE Trampoline located in Remarkables Park in Frankton.
65. Explore Odyssey Sensory Maze
This indoor maze enters different rooms all of which stimulate your mind and body in different ways. In some rooms, it’s very visual, and in others, it’s all about sounds and touches. Kids love it and find the maze more exciting rather than scary.
The experience lasts around 25 minutes, but you can stay in the maze as long as you want. Some people even spend an hour inside.
It costs around $33 NZD for adults and $22.50 NZD for children for the standard experience but there are upgrades available.
66. Watch a movie at the cinema
This small boutique cinema only has three screens, but the intimate experience is unique in comparison to the typical cinema most are used to. They have lots of movies on that regularly change including new releases and kids movies.
If you’re looking for an even more unique experience then you need to head to Arrowtown to Dorothy Browns Cinema. This boutique cinema is actually very luxurious. For one, the seats are huge and each seat comes with armrests for cheese boards and wine glasses. They have a fully stocked bar, still do intermissions, and have made it their mission to bring back the event of going to the movies.
Reading Cinemas is great for families, and Dorothy Browns is perfect for couples or friends looking for a luxurious experience with lots of wine!
67. Go crazy 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.
Day Trips from Queenstown and Things to do Nearby
Sure, there are a ton of amazing things to do right in Queenstown, but there are a lot of really incredible places nearby that you can easily visit on a day trip. Base yourself in Queenstown and then visit a few of the nearby attractions! Below are some of the best things to do just outside of Queenstown.
Wanaka is a small town located about an hour away from Queenstown. It’s another lakeside town that offers its own range of activities and attractions. While you can choose to spend a night or two in Wanaka, you can also easily visit for the day from Queenstown. Some of the best activities you can check out in Wanaka include:
- Visit the famous Wanaka tree
- Test your skills at Puzzle World
- Visit the Wanaka Lavender Farm
- Go jet boating
- Hike Roy’s Peak
- Hike Isthmus Peak
- Ski or mountain bike at Cardrona
- Ruby Island Cruise
It is important to note that the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka is fun itself. There are plenty of places to stop and check out along the way including Cromwell, Bradrona, driving the Crown Range Road, and so much. more! Read my blog about the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka for all the info you need to plan this epic road trip.
69. Milford Sound
Visiting Milford Sound while you’re in New Zealand is a must! While I personally recommend staying a couple of nights in Te Anau or Fiordland National Park to give yourself time to explore the area, it’s very possible to visit Milford in one day from Queenstown.
You can either drive yourself or jump on one of the day tours from Queenstown to Milford. There are bus tours that include a cruise once at Milford Sound, and then there are some tours that also include a scenic flight. Tours are typically 12 hours total with the drive time to and from Milford. They start at around $200 NZD per person with regular deals depending on the company you book with.
You can also drive yourself to Milford Sound from Queenstown. It is a long drive at around 3 hours each way. The roads can also be icy in the winter and you must carry snow chains. I also recommend leaving Queenstown at around 6 am to avoid getting stuck behind a bunch of slow tour buses that depart around 7 am.
Related Read: Planning on spending a night or two in Te Anau? Why not take your time on the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau and enjoy all the best things to do on the way! Plus, there are lots of fun things to do and see in Te Anau too!
Glenorchy is a super tiny town located 40 minutes from Queenstown. The drive there is beautiful and you can either drive yourself or jump on a tour! There are some great Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours available from Queenstown.
Glenorchy is peaceful and stunning offering visitors a nice escape from vibrant Queenstown. There are lots of cheap and free things to do in Glenorchy, with my personal favorite being:
- Visit the historic red shed
- Walk the Glenorchy Walkway to the Glenorchy Lagoon
- Go to the Glenorchy Animal Farm
- Visit Mrs. Woolley’s store and café
- Walk the jetty
71. Doubtful Sound
Like Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is a fiord located in Fiordland National Park. However, unlike Milford, Doubtful Sound is much more difficult to access and you must actually take a boat to get there. For this reason, visiting Doubtful Sound can only be done on a guided tour. This tour involves transport on a luxury bus and boat before actually cruising in Doubtful Sound, and this tour involves flying to and from Doubtful Sound with a cruise once you’re there (it’s obviously significantly more expensive.)
Because of its remote location, Doubtful Sound is much quieter than Milford Sound. Many people actually prefer Doubtful for this reason, however, I’m not sure I agree – Milford is just too amazing!
72. Mount Cook
After Queenstown, Mount Cook National Park is my favorite place in New Zealand! The truth is, I personally recommend taking at least two days and staying in Mount Cook in order to properly explore that area. With that said, I know not everybody has time for that, which is where a day trip from Queenstown comes in handy!
I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself to Mount Cook for the day, it’s just too much driving and you’ll be too tired to do anything once there. Instead, book this tour and catch some sleep on the ride there and back. This way, once you arrive at Mount Cook you can hike and explore! Alternatively, save on the driving time and fly to Mount Cook instead – that would be quite the adventure!
73. Gibbston Valley
Wine lovers, this one is for you! The Gibbston Valley is exactly where you should go to check out local Queenstown wineries and drink as much wine as your heart desires! Located only a short 20-30 minute drive from Queenstown, there are a ton of different wineries to visit in the Gibbston Valley. If you want to sample lots of wine and not drive, then you can do a hop-on-hop-off self-guided wine tour, a bike and wine tour, or a luxury guided van tour. In fact, there are lots of different wine tours in Queenstown to choose from.
Alternatively, if you want to just drive yourself, lots of the wineries have tasting rooms that are open to the public where you can purchase wine to take home. Personally, I recommend visiting the Gibbston Valley Winery if you can. They are the oldest winery in the area and you can actually sample wine in the largest wine cave in New Zealand!
One of the best places to visit from Queenstown is definitely Arrowtown. Arrowtown is a historic little town where the buildings make you feel as if you stepped back in time to the gold mining days. The main street (Buckingham Street) is lined with boutique stores, cafes, and pubs making for a fun place to explore for a couple of hours. Be sure to have lunch at The Fork and Tap, they serve incredible burgers and beer!
On a rainy day in Queenstown, you can head to Arrowtown to visit The Dorothy Brown Cinema. It’s a small boutique luxury cinema that showcases many great new and old films and you can enjoy them while sipping a glass of wine accompanied by a few other finer treats.
You can join a tour from Queenstown, however, you don’t need a tour to visit Arrowtown and can simply explore it on your own. Drive there, or if you don’t have wheels, take the public bus from Queenstown! There is plenty to see and do in Arrowtown to keep you busy for a few hours.
75. Franz Josef
I love Franz Josef! Located about a 4.5-hour drive from Queenstown, this is another destination where I recommend you spend a few days as opposed to just a day trip. Grab yourself a rental car to enjoy the incredibly scenic drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef. You’ll pass through Wanaka, Mt Aspiring National Park, the “wild” West Coast, and enjoy attractions including waterfalls and glaciers – it is easily one of the best road trips on the South Island.
Once you arrive in Franz Josef, be sure to book yourself a hotel and spend a few nights. There are tons of things to do in Franz Josef like nature tours, skydiving, and scenic flights with glacier landings that will definitely keep you busy for a day or two before you head back to Queenstown.
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 book 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!
Wow, that ended up being one comprehensive list of different things to do in Queenstown! I bet that now you can see why Queenstown is one of the best places to visit on the South Island. I sure hope it has helped you plan your visit to Queenstown. If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment below so I can get back to you!
In the meantime, be sure to browse my website for all the most updated and detailed information about visiting Queenstown and nearby areas! I have compiled an epic bucket list for travelers full of the best things to do and see in New Zealand! Or you can also check out some of my other New Zealand guides below: