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75 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown, NZ (2024 Guide!)

75 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown, NZ (2024 Guide!)

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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 jumping, 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, I 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, sightseeing, 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 hope is 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!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Check out my five favorite things to do in Queenstown:

  1. TSS Earnslaw Lunch or dinner cruise for the best views (and food!)
  2. Stuff your face with Fergburger
  3. Enjoy this pilot’s choice of scenic flight around Queenstown
  4. Hike Queenstown Hill for spectacular views on an easy trail
  5. This day trip to Milford Sound to see the 8th (unofficial) wonder of the world.
Table Of Contents
  1. Things to do in Queenstown Center
  2. Scenic Things to Do and Places to Explore in Queenstown
  3. Day Trips from Queenstown and Things to do Nearby
  4. Adventure Activities in Queenstown
  5. Things to do Indoors in Queenstown
  6. Must-Do Hikes and Walks in Queenstown
  7. Thanks for reading!
  8. Why I Book Tours on Viator
  9. Where to Stay in Queenstown
  10. Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
  11. Get 10% OFF tours in New Zealand!

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

View of Queenstown from the top of the Gondola on Bob's Peak in Queenstown
The view is epic!

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 $52 NZD for adults and $36 NZD for children. Package deals are available if you pair the gondola ride with the Luge or lunch or dinner buffets, as well as other experiences like stargazing tours.

There are quite a few other cool things to do at Bob’s Peak, and one of my favorites is the ziplining tour through the pine trees! It’s such a fun tour with amazing views and my favorite ziplining tour in New Zealand! The tour costs $119 NZD and is a favorite among families. It’s worth noting it does not include your gondola ticket.

Another activity that I love and gives you even better views is this paragliding tour. Soar above Queenstown with one of the local paragliding professionals and get the thrill of a lifetime. You’ll take off from the top of Bob’s Peak and land on the oval in Queenstown. The paragliding costs $320 NZD (but it’s worth it) and does not include your gondola ticket.

If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, you can also go hiking on the Ben Lomond Trail or 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

bailey stands at the front of the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown
It’s an iconic activity in Queenstown!
Bailey on the TSS Earnslaw
Jugging along on the TSS Earnslaw!

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. It’s a stunning journey!

The most iconic scenic cruise is the TSS Earnslaw Steamship. 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 Lake Wakatipu. You can enjoy the outside deck to take the views, and inside you’ll find a beautiful bar and lots of seating.

If you really want to spoil yourself, you can also do this TSS Earnslaw cruise with a gourmet BBQ lunch or (my favorite) this sunset cruise with a buffet dinner with both meals at Walter Peak High Country Farm. Both tours are great value for money because they include your cruise, a farm tour, and lunch/dinner. The food on both the lunch and dinner cruise is one of the best meals you can have in Queenstown – trust me on this!

I’ve done both the sightseeing cruise and the dinner options, and honestly can say they are all great! The TSS Earnslaw is unique in the fact it is coal-powered, and people love this historic piece of Queenstown. You can book the 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise for $99 NZD.

3. Stuff your face at Fergburger

A burger from Fergburger

Fergburger is arguably the most popular place to eat in Queenstown. Visitors from all over the world come to try what many claim 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 2 am but open later on Friday and Saturday until 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

Southern Discoveries cruise on Lake Wakatipu during sunset in Queenstown
The sunsets in summer as the best!
Bailey with two of her friends at Perky's - Floating Bar Queenstown at sunset
What a place to call home!

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, or Perky’s Floating Bar. Both of these bars have lake views, and Little Blackwood also has an extensive food and beverage menu (Perky’s is BYO food.)

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!

If you don’t need to be on the water, I love The Sundeck. You basically get the most epic view from the rooftop bar and the atmosphere is really fun. You may even see me up there!

5. Explore the Queenstown Gardens

Bailey walks the Queenstown Gardens
It’s the place I come to clear my head and relax!
Disc golf basket in the Queenstown Gardens in Queenstown New Zealand
Disc golf is fun, but I’m not very good, so watch out!

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.

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.

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.

Plus, how fun is a segway tour!? I’ve seen this tour roll through the gardens numerous times and it always looks like a great time. Prices start at $91 NZD per person.

6. Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park

A kea at the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown
A kea at the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown

New Zealand is world-famous for its 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 $55 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 5:30 pm.

7. Attend the Queenstown Arts and Craft Market

Queenstown Arts and Craft Market
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 also 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 pm. It’s free to visit, but do bring some cash as I highly doubt you’ll be able to leave empty-handed!

They also host a special Christmas market which this year (2023) is on the 22nd of December.

8. Drink local craft beer

Bailey drinks craft beer at Search Light Brewery in Queenstown
Bailey has a beer at Atlas in Queenstown

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 Craft Beer House 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!

One of my favorite ways to visit Altitude Brewing is on a bike ride. In fact, you can book this Queenstown to Arrowtown mountain biking tour, which includes bike hire as well as a drop-off in Arrowtown so you can ride back. The best part is that the trail back travels right past Altitude Brewing, so after a 30-kilometer (18-mile) scenic ride, you can cool down with a beer – my favorite way to end a day of adventure! This bike tour is $145 NZD for an e-bike and $95 NZD for a mountain bike.

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. This is perfect if your group is a mix of wine and beer lovers, try it all for $209 NZD.

If you’d prefer to focus on beer (I get it), then this Queenstown beer tour is the best option. On the tour, you’ll taste a whopping 13 craft beers, a visit to 4 breweries (all my favorites, too), and lunch! The tour costs $185 NZD and includes transport with pickup in Queenstown. This is my top pick for true beer lovers out there, you’ll be blown away by Queenstowns top-tier beer scene.

9. BBQ at St Omer Park

BBQ at St Omer Park
It’s one of the best free things to do in Queenstown!

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 Four Square grocery store in downtown Queenstown 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

An actor at fear Factory, Queenstown
One of the actors at Fear Factory! Photo credit – Fear Factory Queenstown

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. I recommend booking tickets in advance so FOMO (fear of missing out) isn’t the only fear you’re facing!

11. Party the night away

Two cocktails at a bar in Queenstown
You can get amazing cocktails in Queenstown.
Bailey drinks a cocktail at Ferg Bar in Queenstown, New Zealand
Cocktails at Ferg Bar!

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.

I personally love Ferg’s Bar when I’m planning a night out. They serve fantastic cocktails and delicious food. The best part is, once I’m ready to go, I can grab Ferg Burger next door on the way home (it helps with the hangover!)

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! They are really fun and I did them both when I first arrived to meet new people.

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

Bailey with a cocktail at Blue Kanu in Queenstown
Blue Kanu has always been my favorite restaurant in Queenstown!
A meal at Blue Kanu in Queenstown, New Zealand
The food is full of flavor!

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. The menu is always changing, so I can’t give you specific meals to try…sorry! However, 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

Bailey enjoys a drink at minus 5 Ice Bar in Queenstown, New Zealand
You have to do it at least once!

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 but my favorite is the Minus 5 Ice Bar. It costs $35 NZD to visit an ice bar with an included drink, and you can pre-purchase your ticket here. 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 $40 NZD

14. Go Shopping

Bailey poses for a photo in Queenstown
For a small town, there is so much to check out!

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 (not that I’ve ever been in the store), there are lots of options when it comes to shopping in Queenstown.

15. Visit the Remarkable Sweet Shop

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

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

Bailey enjoys a Patagonia Ice Cream in Queenstown, New Zealand
My favorite late-night snack!
Patagonia Ice Cream in Queenstown
Enjoyed right on the water!

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

Pizza at The Cow in Queenstown
Yes, I like pineapple on pizza!

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 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!

The Cow doesn’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

Two Pies in New Zealand
New Zealand pies are the best, sorry Aussies!

If you’ve never had a meat pie before, 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 $7 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. Enjoy cheap drinks at happy hour

Bailey enjoys a drink at The Sundeck in Queenstown
The Sundeck!

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.
  • The Sundeck – They have Malfy Gin and tonics on for $12 all day, every day!

You’d be surprised how cheap you can drink in Queenstown – you just need to know where to look!

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!

20. Soak with a view at Onsen Hot Pools

View from the Onsen Hot Pools hot tubs
Can you imagine anything more relaxing?

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 best hot pools in Queenstown and they come with one magnificent view!

Located in Arthurs Point, only a 10-minute drive from Queenstown (they also provide transfers for 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. So if you’re planning a 5-day trip to Queenstown, make sure to dedicate some time to pop in here!

21. Go Stargazing

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

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.

There is no light pollution here and the stars are insane. Moke Lake is another great spot for stargazing; you can camp there for a small fee.

If you do want an expert to guide you, then you can join this stargazing photography tour in Queenstown. The tour includes an expert guide, professionally taken photos, and tea and coffee. You’ll also learn a ton if you wish, or just enjoy the stars and be a model for the night! Having taken up astrophotography for myself, I can tell you that it’s harder than it looks -having someone to teach you the basics is a huge help!

Plus, what a cool way to remember Queenstown’s remarkable night sky! This tour is $775 per group of four, so while it’s a bit pricey, it’s a great activity to do with some friends.

22. Scenic bike ride

Bike riding on the Mt Nicholas Farm near Queenstown
Can you imagine anything more New Zealand than this?

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.

Another fantastic trail is between Queenstown and Arrowtown. Although it’s a little long to ride there and back, you can book this self-guided tour that includes transport to Arrowtown, so you only have to ride back. It’s a 30-kilometer (18-mile) scenic trip with lots of stops, including cafes and even a brewery. I personally love this route, and the convenience of this tour makes the day incredibly easy, it’s well worth the $95 NZD price tag if you ask me!

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! Of course, I have wine tasting later on this list but dive into it while riding your bike, no designated driver is needed.

This tour is a great option if you’ve already done the first two, or prefer the scenic wine country views. The company will provide the bike and route with recommended stops, then you are free to explore on your own. It also provides a shuttle service, just as the other tour for $110 NZD.

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

23. Scenic flight

View out the side window as we fly over Queenstown
Queenstown is so beautiful!
Bailey sits in a helicopter and looks out the front in Queenstown
They are the best way to see the area!

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, a helicopter ride while you’re in NZ is totally worth it!

When it comes to scenic flights in Queenstown, you can choose between either a helicopter or a small fixed-wing plane.

I recently did this pilot’s choice helicopter tour in Queenstown. It was fantastic and included a landing in the mountains around Lake Wakatipu. I got the most amazing views and some pretty spectacular photos (pictured above.) It’s only short at 20 minutes of actual flying but that also makes it affordable at $338 NZD.

For a longer flight, this epic 50-minute southern glacier helicopter tour is one of the most popular in Queenstown. It includes a landing on Jura glacier in Mt Aspiring National Park, where you’ll get a rare view of the Southern Alps. This tour is more expensive at $744 NZD, but if you have the budget for it, it’s well worth it!

You can also take this fixed-wing scenic flight to see views of Milford Sound and the five major glaciers of the area, including Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. I gotta say, as thrilling as a helicopter ride is, seeing Milford Sound from above is unmatched! This 1-hour fixed-wing plane flight is $481 NZD.

If you are flying in or out of Queenstown via a passenger plane 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!

24. Lord of the Rings Tour

bailey dresses up on a Lord of the Rings Tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy
I loved the tour even though I’m not the biggest LOTR fan! (And no, those are not my real ears!)

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!

This half-day tour shows the best scenery of Queenstown and even gets you off the main tourist track. You can book this experience for $277 NZD.

25. Scenic Farm Tour

Bailey sticks her head over the side of the TSS Earnslaw and enjoys the view as she travels to Walter Peak Station for dinner
Cruising to the farm
A sheep demonstration at Walter Peak farm
A sheep demonstration at Walter Peak farm

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 this 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 $145 NZD per adult.

This is a quintessential Queenstown experience, the historic steamship, an afternoon on the farm, and incredible views the whole time! If you just book a few tours in Queenstown, this should be towards the top of your list.

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!

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.

26. Wanaka

Bailey poses for a photo with the Wanaka Tree
The Wanaka Tree is iconic!

Wanaka is a small town located about an hour away from Queenstown. It’s another lakeside mountain town that offers its own range of tours 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:

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.

Of course, if you don’t have a car, you can either rent one or, do a tour from Queenstown! This Arrowtown and Wanaka Highlights Tour from Queenstown is my personal recommendation as it combines a visit to Wanaka with the gold mining town of Arrowtown. It also visits the historic Cardrona Hotel where you can enjoy a drink on the house! You also get a free hour to explore Wanaka.

Wanaka is one of my favorite little towns on the South Island, and a must-visit from Queenstown! I think a guided tour is the best way to visit, especially if this is your first time here. There is a lot of unique history to learn and even more hidden gems you might miss on your own.

27. Milford Sound

Scenic flight into Milford Sound, New Zealand
What a view!
A boat travels right up to Stirling Falls in Milford Sound
Oh, the waterfalls!

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 easy to visit Milford in one day from Queenstown. But there are a few options…

You can either drive yourself (which in one day on your own involves a ton of driving) or jump on one of the day tours from Queenstown to Milford. They still are a long day (12 to 13 hours) but at least someone does the driving for you!

If you were to ask for my top choice, it’s this small-group full-day tour to Milford Sound. Why? It’s not only a small group tour, but you also board the smallest boat in Milford Sound for a boutique experience that gets you as close as possible to the action. The best part is, it’s only about $30 NZD more than the big bus, big boat tours.

If you’re short on time, consider this Fly, Cruise, Fly Milford Sound scenic flight. Unlike the bus tours, you can fly to Milford Sound, enjoy a cruise, and fly back in less than 5 hours. The best part is you get the most amazing views from the air! It’s one of the best things I have ever done – the picture above proves it!

Bailey sits on the bed in her cabin on a Milford Sound overnight cruise
I recently did the overnight cruise!
Bailey leans on the railing of a Milford Sound overnight cruise at sunrise
The morning of the overnight cruise!

If you want to combine the stops along the road to Milford Sound (a highlight) and a scenic flight, there is this option to take a bus to Milford Sound, do a cruise, and then fly back – the best of both worlds!

You can also drive yourself to Milford Sound from Queenstown. It is a long drive at around 3.5 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.

If you do, consider doing this overnight cruise in Milford Sound. I did it last summer and loved it! Although expensive, you get way more time in Milford Sound, two meals, and get to soak in a hot tub! It’s honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in New Zealand, you won’t be disappointed (that is, as long as you can get a booking…it’s super popular!)

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!

28. Glenorchy

The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy
This is one road trip you’ll want to do!

Glenorchy is a cute town located 40 minutes from Queenstown, surrounded by natural beauty. It’s my favorite place to go when I want to get away from the crowds.

The drive there is beautiful, and you can either drive yourself or jump on a tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy. I went on this half-day tour once so I could see how it was, and I still rave about the epic scenery, Lord of the Rings filming locations I learned about, and a super scenic picnic beside a lake! Of course, I go on my own all the time but finding the LOTR locations is hard and a guide is best for that.

If you are a big LOTR fan, there are some great dedicated (the tour above only visits a couple of locations) Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours available from Queenstown. This area was one of the prominent filming locations and once you arrive, you’ll see why!

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:

If you decide to visit on your own, please drive carefully on the roads. There are very narrow, windy sections where there is barely enough room for two cars. If you’re uncomfortable with driving, this half-day tour is a great alternative. Plus, it’s easy to fit into your schedule and leave time for all these other epic things to do in Queenstown.

29. Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound cruise
What a magnificent place!

That’s right, there is more than one famous fiord (yes, they are fiords, not “sounds”, but that’s a story for another day) in New Zealand. In fact, Fiordland National Park is home to 14 fiords and Doubtful Sound is the only one besides Milford Sound that offers guided tours.

Like Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is located in Fiordland National Park. However, unlike Milford, Doubtful Sound is much more difficult to access and you must actually take a cruise to get there. For this reason, visiting Doubtful Sound from Queenstown can only be done on a guided tour.

This tour involves transport on a luxury bus and boat before actually cruising in Doubtful Sound. It’s a fantastic option from Queenstown and includes transportation, a ferry ride, and a catamaran sightseeing cruise on Doubtful Sound. Since you can only get to the fiord with a tour, this one from Queenstown makes the whole day seamless.

Like Milford, you can also do this overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. It’s perfect for those who like to get off the beaten path and do something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I know I won’t forget spending a magical night in Doubtful Sound! It departs from Manapouri and includes transport to the sound, all meals, and the cruise itself for $829 NZD.

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!

30. Mount Cook

Bailey on Lake Pukaki Lookout on Mount Cook road with the famous view of the winding road with Mount Cook in the background
Mount Cook is NZ’s best National Park!
Bailey in the Muller Hut area stands on a rock with Mount Cook in the background
At the Mueller Hut!

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 a tour!

This small group guided tour by bus is a top choice. It visits a ton of places, including Lindis Pass and the blue Lake Pukaki on the way. Once there, you get 4 hours of free time! You can head to the Hooker Valley Track or take a scenic flight (at an extra cost). I love the convenience of this tour, and having the guides to show you around Mount Cook will maximize your time – it’s well wroth $250 NZD in my book.

Alternatively, save on the driving time and fly to Mount Cook instead on this tour – that would be quite the adventure! The tour is much shorter but you actually get 5 hours in Mount Cook. You’ll hike the Hooker Valley Track, enjoy lunch with a view at the Hermitage Hotel and more. Plus, the chance to see Mount Cook (NZ’s tallest peak) from an aerial view is incredible – trust me, I’ve done it!

I love that this tour offers reserve now, pay later options so you can fit it into your travel budget. It’s $769 NZD per person after all!

31. Gibbston Valley

Bailey enjoys wine at Gibbston Valley Winery near Queenstown
The wine is so good!
Bailey walks the vines in the Gibbston Valley wine region
Just checking on the baby wine!

Wine lovers, this one is for you! The Gibbston Valley wine region 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 the best thing to do is a Gibbston Valley wine tour!

My top choice for my readers is always this Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown which includes a visit to 4 wineries, a light lunch, all your wine tastings, and transport. It’s a fantastic tour that’s not a half-day or full-day but right in the middle at 5.5 hours!

There are also a lot of other options, such as this budget-friendly hop-on-hop-off self-guided wine tour, which has you exploring the region at your own pace. The best part is you can still enjoy a few too many wines! This tour is only $80 NZD and while it doesn’t include your tasting fees, it does offer discounts at certain wineries.

If you’re the active type or just want to work on the wine you’ll be tasting, this bike and wine tour is very popular. It’s definitely not my first choice because I’m not a keen bike rider while I’m dressed for a winery visit. There are lots of other 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 this self-drive Gibbston Valley Winery tour. They are the oldest winery in the area and you can actually sample wine in the largest wine cave in New Zealand when you book this tour in advance here! This is the best option if you’re on a time crunch, as it only lasts about 45 minutes.

32. Arrowtown

Bailey poses for a photo in Arrowtown, New Zealand
Arrowtown is so cute!
Food at The Fork and Tap in Queenstown

One of the best places to visit from Queenstown is definitely Arrowtown. Arrowtown is a historic little town just on the outskirts of Queenstown where the buildings make you feel like you stepped back to the gold mining days.

The main street (Buckingham Street) is lined with boutique stores, cafes, and pubs, making Arrowtown 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.

The trendiest place to drink in Arrowtown is at The Blue Door. This cool bar is a local secret you’ll find on a side alley in Arrowtown and is the place to come for cocktails, wine, and live music. The bar is really cozy with a fireplace and lounge-style seating for only around 30 people. Cozy up by the fire with a drink in hand – sounds like my kind of night.

You can easily visit Arrowtown on your own by driving or using public transport. Bus number 2 in Queenstown heads to Arrowtown and the journey takes around half an hour and costs $2 with an Orb card or $5 without one. There is plenty to see and do in Arrowtown to keep you busy for a few hours.

However, if you’d prefer, there are also a few tours you can do to Arrowtown from Queenstown. My pick is this Arrowtown and Around tour for a great taste of Arrowtown. The tour includes an expert guide, pickup in central Queenstown, a manuka honey tasting, and transport to Arrowtown. This is my top choice if it’s your first visit and are keen on learning the history, or if you only have limited time to spare (it’s only about 4 hours!).

33. Franz Josef

Bailey on the edge of Lake Matheson, New Zealand
Bailey on the edge of Lake Matheson, New Zealand
Bailey at the Franz Josef valley viewpoint
The glacier viewpoint!

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 if you have time.

However, if you don’t have the time or are headed in another direction next, you can still visit on a tour from Queenstown. This Tasman Glacier Heli-Hike involves taking a small plane over Otago and the West Coast to Franz Josef, where you’ll board a helicopter and head to Franz Josef Glacier to explore the glacier on an ice walk!

It’s not cheap at $1,599 NZD but there is a lot included in the tour, such as a 1-hour scenic flight on the way to and from Franz Josef (so two hours) and the heli hike, which alone costs over $700 NZD.

If you plan to visit on your own, 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 amazing 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 is so much to do in Franz Josef, such as the famous Off Road Quad Bike Adventure Tour that has you exploring the wild, West Coast on an ATV. It’s fun and informative and will get the blood pumping. This quad tour is well loved with over 100 positive reviews – check them out and book it here.

Another tour I love is this kayaking adventure on Lake Mapourika. You’ll get some of the most breathtaking views you have ever seen on a calm day! Lake Mapourika is somewhat of a hidden gem, and exploring it by kayak is the best way to do it. Plus booking a tour is the most convenient way to get on the lake! Check out the 300+ 5-star reviews and book this kayak tour here.

Why I Book Tours on Viator

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

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

Check out the Viator website here

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!

34. Ride the Luge

The luge in Queenstown, New Zealand
It’s so much fun!

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 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!

35. Go on a quad tour

Nomad Safaris Quad bike tour
Photo credit: Nomad Safaris

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 is this quad biking tour on Queenstown Hill. 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.

The 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.

36. Go mountain carting at Cardrona

Bailey mountain carting at Cardrona, New Zealand
I loved it!
Bailey goes mountain carting at Cardrona, NZ
You go so fast!

This is New Zealand’s only mountain carting experience, and it’s available during the summer months. It’s certainly one for the adrenalin-lovers among you. I have experienced this myself, and believe me, the cart’s appearance may fool you – these things go FAST!

You do need to be careful on the Cardrona mountain carts – with all that speed you build up, you’ll need to watch out for those corners! The carts at Cardrona are purpose-built in Germany, with 3 wheels, a low-to-the-ground frame, and two hydraulic disc brakes. Although they are gravity-fed, it really is an experience for adrenaline junkies!

With that said, you can control your speed with the brakes. The first couple of runs that I did, I was going pretty slow just getting the hang of everything. And then as I got more comfortable, I picked up the speed quite a bit.

Cardrona has three mountain carting trails to choose from – so keep in mind that some trails may be closed on the day you are there. When we visited, though, all of the trails were open! The views from up there were fantastic, too!

Your session runs for an awesome 2 hours and prices are $159 NZD for an adult and $80 for a child aged between 6 and 17 years old. Please note, any children looking to mountain cart should measure above 100 cm (3.3′).

37. Bungy Jumping

A person hangs from a bungy cord at Kawarau Bridge Bungy in Queenstown, NZ
The river at Kawarau Bridge Bungy really is that blue!

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:

Ledge Bungy: Please note the Ledge is currently closed

  • 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!

Kawarau Bungy:

  • 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…)

Nevis Bungy:

  • 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.

Let me give you a small bit of advice. They are all scary, and so do the Nevis!

38. Shotover Canyon Giant Rope Swing

Shotover Canyon Swing
Photo credit: Shotover Canyon Swing
Shotover Canyon Swing 1
Photo credit: Shotover Canyon 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.

39. Skydiving

A Tandem skydive falls from a plane
Leaving the plane right at the start is the best part!

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 New Zealand (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 9,000-foot, 12,000-foot, and 15,000-foot jumps. The difference between these jumps is the amount of freefall time and the price. The 15,000-foot jump is the most expensive but offers the longest free fall time. All the jumps come with amazing views though and you’ll literally get the thrill of your life.

40. Indoor skydiving

A customer and coach fly in the iFly wind tunnel
Is this cool or what!?

If actual 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 hefty price of about $129 NZD for their beginner package (two flights.) Regardless, this is easily one of the best indoor activities in Queenstown!

41. Parasailing

Queenstown Paraflights
Photo credit: Queenstown Paraflights

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 $120-$250 NZD per adult with discounted child prices available too.

42. Paragliding

A person paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand
A person paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand

Although it may sound similar to parasailing, paragliding is much more exciting! 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 – just imagine the views from way up there!

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. If you want a little bit of a scare they can do some sharp turns which gets the heart racing.

There are a couple of paragliding options available in Queenstown. In the Queenstown gondola section of this blog I told you about Bob’s Peak paragliding over Queenstown. However, you can also do this paragliding tour that takes off from Coronet Peak. The entire tour lasts around 90 minutes and includes transport from Queenstown. Coronet Peak is not far from Queenstown and has amazing views of the Wakatipu Basin.

43. Hang gliding

Hang gliding is similar to paragliding in the fact that you’ll run off a mountain and soar 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.

44. Canyoning

A person slides down a waterfall while canyoning in Queenstown
It’s scary and fun!
Bailey looks on as someone repels down while canyoning in Queenstown
I loved it!

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, swam 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, but I took this particular half-day tour and had a blast!

There are a few things to know about canyoning. 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 this 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.

45. Whitewater rafting and Funyaks

Dart River Adventures funyaks
Photo credit: Dart River Adventures
Dart River Adventures fun yaks tour
Photo credit: Dart River Adventures

For something a little less extreme than canyoning, try whitewater rafting or Funyaks in Queenstown!

There are a handful of whitewater rafting tours around Queenstown, but my preferred option is this half-day Shotover River tour! It’s a bit on the thrilling side, with plenty of rapids, river drops, and rafting through the Oxenbridge Tunnel. Don’t worry though, it’s not too crazy to shy away from it.

This whole experience is 5 hours long, and that includes transport and shuttle time, instruction, and a few hours on the river. Be prepared to get wet, you certainly will! This experience is $305 NZD.

For something a little more unique, why not try a Funyak tour?! 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 this 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!

Don’t miss out on this unique experience – book this Funyak tour and jet boat ride here!

46. Jet boating

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary jet boating in Queenstown
As you can tell, I was a little scared!

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 $99 NZD (usually only off peak season, though.)

I did this 60-minute KJet ride that departs from the Queenstown Wharf in town and it cost only $135 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:

  • 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!

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!

47. Jet skiing or Hydro Attack

Hydro Attack speeds through the water in Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
This is an experience that’s unique to Queenstown. Photo credit: Hydro Attack Queenstown

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 renting a jet ski and driving yourself. From the main pier in Queenstown, you’ll find Water Sport World, which hires our jet skis starting from $140 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.

48. Mountain biking

A man rides down the Queenstown Bike Park
Mountain biking around Queenstown means you’ll enjoy some epic views!

Mountain biking is Queenstown’s extreme summer sport. People come from all over to mountain bike Queenstown 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 here.

Alternatively, if you have your own wheels and bike, you can drive up to trails around town like Coronet Peak. Coronet Peak also runs paid shuttles that you can book here.

Or, this guided tour will take you up to a private trail on Grant Peak with e-bikes! This is actually one of the top-rated mountain bike experiences in Queenstown. Probably because it’s an e-bike, so it’s much easier than a mountain bike! But the trail is really scenic and the views from the top of Grant Peak are great. This 3.5-hour tour is $205 NZD.

Bike rentals: There are bike rental stores everywhere in Queenstown. If you want to get a bike, you can rent an electric one here.

49. Skiing or snowboarding

Sitting at the top of Cardrona Ski Resort looking out at the views
Skiing is just as much about the views and Cardrona has some of the best!

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 in New Zealand. 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 (check them out here!) if you’re a bit unsure about skiing or snowboarding, and it’s a super fun experience in itself.

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 – it’s my personal favorite! This is where the professionals come to train too. You can buy Cardrona lift passes here.

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.

50. Kayaking or paddleboarding

Bailey kayaks on a rainy day
Who says you can’t kayak in the rain!?

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! This tour makes it easy as the guide transports the kayaks (and you) and shows you the best spots to go.

This kayak tour is $169 NZD and is available from December to March.

51. Riverboarding

Riverboarding in Queenstown with Serious fun Riverboarding
Photo credit: Serious fun Riverboarding

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 $259 NZD per person. This experience is available from September to May, otherwise, you’ll get too cold!

52. 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 $1,600 NZD for a heli-ski or heli-bike experience.

53. Ziplining

A man ziplining in Queenstown through the forest
A person ziplining in Queenstown, NZ upside down with Ziptrek Eco Tours
The views are stunning!

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 Queenstown is one of the best places to zipline in New Zealand because the views are stunning!

Upon booking, there are a couple of different zipline experiences available in Queenstown, and choosing which one will depend on how many lines you want to do, how much time you have, and your budget.

The Moa Tour has 4 different lines that start low and gradually increase in height, length, and speed. This is ideal if this is your first time ziplining.

The 1-hour Kereru Tour, while shorter than the Moa, is a bit more thrilling as it includes 2 lines and a 22-meter drop (72 feet) at the end.

If you choose the Kea Tour, you’ll get to do 6 lines along with the world’s steepest zipline, which descends 30 stories at 70 kilometers (44 miles) an hour!

The tours are guided and you’ll take your time learning about the area along the way. In fact, the 6 zip line tour is almost 3 hours long! You can expect to pay between $119 NZD to $318 NZD, depending on the tour.

Please Note: The 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.

Things to do Indoors 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.

54. Go ice-skating

Queenstown Ice Arena
Can you ice skate?

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, this could be the place to try it.

Public ice skating sessions are only $20 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 $19 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.

55. 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 if you’re visiting Queenstown with kids.

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 a hot tub and sauna for the adults. 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!

56. Bounce around on a Trampoline

A person fly's through the air at Site Trampoline
Into the landing pit!

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 the SITE Trampoline located in Remarkables Park in Frankton.

57. Explore Odyssey Sensory Maze  

If you’re traveling with kids and think Fear Factory might be a little much for them, then Odyssey Sensory Maze is another indoor activity you can do in Queenstown.

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.

58. Watch a movie at the cinema  

cinema in arrowtown near Queenstown, New Zealand
The cinema in Arrowtown is really cute!

Watching a movie can be a relaxing break on a busy Queenstown holiday. Queenstown is home to its very home movie theater called Reading Cinemas Queenstown.

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 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!

59. 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.

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!

60. Tiki Trail

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

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…

61. Ben Lomond

Bailey stands at the Summit of Ben Lomond in Queenstown, New Zealand
The summit is difficult to reach!

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 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.

62. Bob’s Cove Viewpoint Track

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

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.

63. Queenstown Hill

Looking out from the summit of Queenstown Hill
Just enjoying the view at sunrise!

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!

64. Mt Crichton Loop Track

A lady stands on the trail of Mt Crichton Loop looking back at Lake Wakatipu
Not a bad view on the 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!

65. Glenorchy Walkway

Bailey enjoys the reflections along the Glenorchy Walkway
On a clear day, the reflections are out of this world!

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.

66. Routeburn Track

Bailey on the Routeburn Track in Mt Aspiring National Park, New Zealand
Climbing up on the Routeburn Track!
Bailey hikes along the Routeburn Track in New Zealand
This is a Great Walk worth doing!

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.

This full-day small-group Routeburn Valley Walk is a top choice that explores the forests along the Routeburn Track for 6.5 kilometers (4 miles). You’ll learn a ton along the way, get to explore Glenorchy, and enjoy a picnic lunch in nature. It’s a fantastic way to spend a day for $390 NZD.

There is also a half-day option that only involves 2.5 hours of hiking and a bit of time to explore Glenorchy. It departs in the afternoon, leaving time for other Queenstown activities in the morning. This tour is $225 NZD and includes transportation, your amazing guide, and water/snacks!

67. Moke Lake Loop

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

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, during the winter months in New Zealand, it can be slippery and icy, so 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 it makes for one of the cheapest places to stay around Queenstown.

68. Moke Lake Viewpoint

Bailey sits at the top of the secret Moke Lake viewpoint
The view from the 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!

69. Wye Creek Track

The viewpoint on the Wye Creek Track
The most underrated viewpoint in Queenstown!

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.

70. Lake Alta

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

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!

71. Sunshine Bay Track

Views of Queenstown from the Sunshine Bay Track
Views from the Sunshine bay Track looking back at Queenstown

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.

Sunshine Bay Track is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) return and is considered an easy walking trail in Queenstown.

72. Big Hill

Bailey stands on the summit of Big Hill in Arrowtown, New Zealand
I love this trail because no one does it!

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.

It’s rather off the beaten path so locals like myself love it for that reason. You can hike without the crowds!

Big Hill is a moderately difficult trail.

73. Lake Hayes Walkway

Lake hayes at sunset with a mountain backdrop
Enjoying Lake Hayes at sunset!

Lake Hayes Walkway is another loop-style track that circles Lake Hayes. It’s an 8-kilometer (5-mile) 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 are public transport options to get there too. Most people visit Lake Hayes in the summer months. However, it is accessible all year round.

74. Hike Earnslaw Burn Track

Bailey at the river at the end of the Earnslaw Burn Track in Queenstown
A tent set up below Earnslaw Burn Glacier on the Earnslaw Burn Track
Earnslaw Burn Track

The last hike on this list of things to do in Glenorchy is a good one. Best suited to those who consider themselves hikers, Earnslaw Burn Track is an epic overnight hike or grueling day hike.

The trail starts on Lovers Leap Road just off Glenorchy-Paradise Road and leads through the backcountry until you reach Mt Earnslaw and its famous hanging glacier.

One way, the hike takes around 5 to 7 hours, depending on the size of your pack and pace. The Earnslaw Burn Track is rated as medium to hard, so this definitely isn’t a walk in the park. Personally, I recommended camping one night on the trail (it’s completely free). With epic views of the mountains and the track’s quiet nature, this is one adventure avid hikers shouldn’t miss in New Zealand.

Hiking the trail requires some planning, so check out this guide to the track for more info.  

75. Roy’s Peak

A person stands on Roy's Peak
Roy’s Peak is such a stunning hike!

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!

Where to Stay in Queenstown

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

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

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

Kamana Lakehouse – $$$

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

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

La Quinta Queenstown – $$

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

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

Absoloot Hostel Queenstown – $

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

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

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Bailey enjoys a drink at Perky's Floating Bar with views of Lake Wakatipu
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:

Best beaches in New Zealand

Best time to visit Queenstown

Things to do in Picton

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    Rahul Wason

    Saturday 1st of June 2024

    Fantastic blog Bailey. Thank you for all the details and such clarity. I can see you did enjoy the trip to NZ and was well planned with yr friends.


    Tuesday 27th of February 2024

    Hi Bailey,

    I am traveling to Queenstown from 24th to 30th April and your blog has helped me a lot in planning my trip. Thanks a lot for that. Can you tell me what will be weather be like in April end for Queenstown and Milford Sound? I have booked 1555 cruse for Milford Sound. Also can you suggest vegetarian friendly places to eat in and around Queenstown and Wanaka? Again thanks for your very helpful blog.

    chaitanya Kapadia

    Sunday 10th of March 2024

    @Bailey, Hi Bailey, Thanks for your reply. As I mentioned before I have booked a 1555 to 1755 hrs cruise at Milford sound and intend to drive back to queenstown after that. I am a confident driver. Just wanted to know will it be safe to drive back to Queenstown at that time of the day?


    Friday 1st of March 2024

    Hey Chaitanya,

    Glad you found it helpful.

    The weather will be cold but not ice or snow yet. Be sure to bring some warm jackets and pants etc.

    For vegan food, I love Yonder and World Bar. Also lots of restaurants have vegan food on offer.

    Thanks Bailey

    Stanley Teo

    Sunday 10th of December 2023

    Hi Bailey, I am Stanley from Singapore. I enjoyed reading your blog. It is very informative. Thank you for sharing.

    I will be visiting NZ south island in April 2024 (1st stop in Queenstown) with my family. One of the activity that I would like to do is Stargazing at Moke Lake. I will be driving there in my rental car. My question is: Will it be an easy and safe drive back to Queenstown city in the night from Moke Lake?

    Thank you and regards, Stanley Teo (from Singapore)


    Sunday 17th of December 2023

    Hey Stanley,

    Glad you love the blog!

    Yes it's safe in April. Just know it is a gravel road for the last part of the journey so if it has been raining a lot in the last few days, I wouldn't go in a small rental car. With that said, I do it all the time and I have a Toyota Vitz (tiny car). They have made the road a lot better in recent years due to it's popularity.

    Thanks Bailey


    Monday 27th of November 2023

    Such a beautiful guide. In QT now and loved your suggestions. Thank you so much.


    Saturday 18th of November 2023