It’s time to head down under, but we’re not talking about Australia, New Zealand is where it’s at. It was the hot spot to travel during the days of the Lord of the Rings, and while it hasn’t at the top of people’s radar as much in recent years, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world. It is where commercial Bunjy jumping began and where thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies are game to try anything once. So, are you ready to explore the best things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand? Let’s get started.
Best Things to do in Queenstown
We have visited New Zealand three times and have spent more than two months exploring its snow capped peaks and lively cities. Queenstown was one of our favorite places to visit in New Zealand. Ciaran Coughland initially wrote this post, but after reading closer, we realized that he basically wrote it using AI and since we did nearly all the adventures in Queenstown ourselves, we rewrote it drawing from our first hand experiences. We kept a few of his adventures as he had the chance to go snowboarding and mountain biking. Plus when you combine his trip with ours, this is the most comprehensive guide to Queenstown you’ll find.
1. Go Bunjy Jumping at The Nevis Highwire Bungy
If there is one place on earth to go bunjy jumping it is in New Zealand. Bungy jumping in the birthplace of the world’s first commercial bungy jump is a thrilling experience. With three bungy jumping sites to choose from, it has to be at the top of the list of best things to do in Queenstown. Most tourists head to the Kawarau Bridge Bungy but if you really want to make a statement, the Nevis Bunjy is the one to do it!
Standing 134m (440ft) above the stunning Nevis valley. Test your bravery and willpower with this extreme experience. From the side of the canyon, you’ll take a trolley out to the center, where you’ll be strapped into the third-highest bunjy jumping experience in the world.
2. Nevis Swing
Round-trip transfers from Queenstown are included, and you can combine them with the Nevis Swing which is the world’s highest swing. You can book a half day tour that includes both the Nevis Bunjy Jump and the Nevis Swing. It includes transfers from Queenstown from the AJ Hacket Bungy Center located on the corner of Camp Street and Shotover STreet.
3. Kawarau Bridge Bungy
The Kawarau Bridge Bungy is located just 25 minutes from Queenstown in Gibbston. Step off of a bit of history as it was the bridge where the world’s first commercial bungy jump occurred. Leap 43m above the Kawarau River and plunge into the canyon. You can jump solo or tandem, with water touches being a must-try. Complimentary transfers from Queenstown are available.
4. Go Skydiving
Jumping from an aircraft at 16000ft requires bravery! You are tied to a seasoned tandem master; brace yourself for a sensory overload as you hit 200 kmph. The personal challenge is huge. Soar above breathtaking landscapes, including alpine resorts, pristine lakes, and snow-capped peaks. You can book your Skydive Adventure in Queenstown in advance through GetYour Guide. Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund. You can choose to freefall from the following height options:
From 15,000ft, you will freefall for up to 60 seconds. From 12,000ft, you will freefall for up to 45 seconds. From 9,000ft, you will freefall for up to 25 seconds.
5. Skyline Queenstown
Skyline Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the Adventure Capital of the world. Take the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu. At the top, there is also a restaurant, a luge track, and various activities such as scenic walks, zip lining, paragliding, and mountain biking.
You can purchase from different activities once you reach the top.
If you want to walk up, take the Tiki Trail from the bottom to the top. This is one of the best walking trails in Queenstown, where you are treated to views of the snow capped mountains. Pack a picnic lunch or eat at the restaurant. Either way, take your time to enjoy the views of the dramatic scenery surrounding Queenstown.
6. G-Force Paragliding
Paragliding is an awesome adventure that can be done at the top of Skyline Queenstown. Taking the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak, make your way to G-Force Paragliding for one of the best adventures in New Zealand. This thrill begins with a short training session and then you are strapped to a qualified instructor who will take you on a tandem flight to take in the views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range.
The flight lasts around 20 minutes, depending on weather conditions, and after a running start off the edge of the peak, you float through the air enjoying the views while letting your guide do some fun maneuvers in the air.
Paragliding at Skyline Queenstown is a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure without having to jump off a ledge or out of an airplane. Whether you are a seasoned paraglider or a first-timer, the breathtaking views and exhilarating flight will stay with you for a lifetime.
7. The Luge
Located at Skyline Queenstown, the Luge in Queenstown is an exciting and unique activity that offers visitors the chance to experience the thrill of racing down a purpose-built track. Make your way up the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for a fun adventure down the mountain.
Riders sit on a three-wheeled cart and control their speed as they wind their way down the track, taking in stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Luge is suitable for all ages and skill levels, making it a great activity for families and groups of friends.
This activity is perfect for thrill-seekers, families, and anyone looking for a fun and memorable experience in Queenstown. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a fun activity to try, the Luge is a must-do experience.
8. Go Mountain Biking
Also located at Skyline Queenstown, you’ll find New Zealand’s first-ever Gondola assisted bike park. Take your mountain bike up with you on the gondola. The bike is attached to the Gondola cabin at the base as you ride inside. Once once you reach the top, you’ll be ready to hit the trails for some downhill mountain biking.
The area offers a variety of mountain bike trails, ranging from easy scenic rides to challenging technical tracks and downhill mountain biking. With over 30 world-class downhill mountain bike trails covering more than 30 km and offering 450 meters of vertical descent, it’s a must-visit destination for mountain bikers.
There are various trails from green to black so even if you are a beginner, there’s something for riders of all levels. With an elevation of 790m and the longest run stretching for 6 km, the Queenstown Bike Park is an unforgettable experience. We love down hill mountain biking, it’s a great way to get ton the bike without haveing to suffer through major climbs.
Bike rentals are available around the Queenstown Center, and you can book a bike and lift combo.
8. Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Another popular area for hikers is Queenstown Hill, located near the center of Queenstown. The most popular walking trail to the summit is the Queenstown Hill Time Walk, which takes approximately 2 to 3 hours to complete. The trail starts at the end of Belfast Terrace, just a short walk from central Queenstown. Along the way, walkers pass through a pine forest and open grassy slopes, with several viewpoints offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
At the summit of Queenstown Hill is a stone sculpture called the “Basket of Dreams,” erected in 2000 to commemorate the new millennium.
9. Eat a FerBurger
The moment you spot the long line snaking along Shotover Street in Queenstown, you know Fergburger is no ordinary burger restaurant. Since its opening in 2001, it has become a staple, and for good reason. Offering a diverse menu of burgers, including 3/4lb meat patties and tofu options, all are freshly made daily, cooked to perfection, expertly assembled, and delectable.
At Fergburger, everything is made in-house, from buns to sauces, and the quality shines through. The burger joint has gained global recognition, and waiting in line has become a must-do Queenstown experience. The locally-owned business has expanded with three sister establishments: Mrs. Ferg (ice cream and gelato), Fergbaker, and the newly-added Ferg’s Bar, a cozy spot stocked with all the essentials.
Once you have finished up with a burger, pop over to the Remarkable Sweet Shop for some free samples. There are two locations where you can order some fudge or other sweet treats, from sherbert straws to panda licorice.
10. Shotover River Jet Boat Tour
The Queenstown Shotover River Jet Boat Tour is an experience that is probably the most popular jet boating ride in the entire country. Jet Boats are a thrilling adventure where you spin on a dime through narrow canyons. A Shotover River jet boat ride is the most popular in Queenstown taking you through the Shotover River and Kawarau River canyons. We took a lot of jet boat tours in New Zealand. Kiwis love thrills and jet boating is one adventurous ride.
You can book this highly rated tour that takes you jet boating on a high-speed adrenaline rush jet boat tour through Lake Wakatipu and the Shotover River and Kawarau River with 360° spins as you enjoy yet another thrill ride in Queenstown.
Jet boating is one of the top things to do in Queenstown cost ZD $90 to $150 per person. These adventure tours usually last between 25 to 60 minutes
11. Cruise Lake Wakatipu
There is nothing better than getting on the water when visiting any destination and a cruise on Lake Wakatipu is a must. It’s a great way to see the natural beauty of the Queenstown area. Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s third-largest lake that is surrounded by mountains, including the Remarkables, Cecil, and Walter Peaks.
There are various types of cruises available, from vintage steamship cruises to modern catamarans. We recommend The TSS Earnslaw, where you hop aboard a vintage steamship for a 1.5 hour cruise for a nostalgic and historic cruising experience. It’s one of the few remaining coal-fired passenger-carrying vessels operating in the southern hemisphere.
12. TSS Earnslaw – Walter’s Peak
Some cruises offer stops at local farms like this one.where you can engage in activities like sheep shearing and dog demonstrations. You’ll witness dogs as they herding sheep from the paddocks and you can enjoy its walking trails through the farmyard, where you can assist with feeding sheep and deer and even get close to the Scottish Highland Cattle.
Stroll to the charming old woolshed for a tea break, and maybe even visit the lakeside gardens before you depart on the TSS Earnslaw for your return cruise to Queenstown. Book this highly rated tour to see why farming in New Zealand’s high country is a way of life you don’t want to miss. It includes a gourmet barbecue lunch.
13. Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown Gardens is a beautiful park in the heart of Queenstown, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park features manicured lawns, mature trees, and a stunning lakefront setting, making it a popular spot for picnics, relaxing, and taking in the views.
I’d recommend playing a game of disc golf when in Queenstown, and the Disc Golf Course in Queenstown Gardens is great. The disc golf course offers a fun and challenging 18-basket experience amidst the park’s stunning scenery.
Suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced players, the course winds its way through the gardens and is a great way to enjoy the park’s beauty while getting some exercise. This family-friendly course is perfect for families visiting Queenstown. Small Planet in the town center rents frisbees for only $5 per day!
14. Kiwi Birdlife Park
It’s not easy to see New Zealand’s national bird in the wild, but visiting the Kiwi Birdlife Park gives you the opportunity. Nestled in the heart of Queenstown, The Kiwi Birdlife Park offers a rare opportunity to see the elusive kiwi in its natural habitat.
The park plays a crucial role in kiwi conservation, providing an educational and interactive experience that brings you up close with these unique nocturnal birds. Beyond kiwis, the park is home to other native species, including the colorful kea and tuatara.
Conveniently located near central Queenstown, the Kiwi Birdlife Park combines conservation, education, and entertainment that is so much fun for the whole family.
15. Craft Brewery Tour
Craft beers have taken over the world, and Queenstown is no different. With this tour, you can experience Queenstown’s Craft Beer scene that will take you off the beaten track. The tour includes three stops where you’ll sample 13 different craft beers, and a delicious lunch. Or you can book this tour, where you’ll taste the local craft beer from Central Otago as you sample shared platters. Travel in style in a Mercedes van as you listen to your guide share stories and fun.
16. Wine Tour
New Zealand wines have come a long way, baby, and you can take guided tours through wine country from Queenstown. The surrounding region of Queenstown is particularly renowned for its Central Otago wines. Its Pinot Noir is considered among the best in the world. It also produces excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.
Tours leaving from Queenstown typically include visits to several wineries, ranging from well-known brands to boutique family-run estates, and at each stop, you’ll not only learn about the wine-making process and characteristics of the region’s wines but you’ll get to do some tastings. This tour takes you to New Zealand’s largest underground wine cave and three wineries.
17. Have a Drink at an Ice Bar
We didn’t visit the Ice Bars in Queensland, but we have been to a few around the world and highly recommend it. There are two ice bars in town the Below Zero Ice Bar and Minus 5° ICE BAR. Step inside to enjoy ice carvings of furniture and sculptures as you drink from glasses made of ice. Warm coats are provided as you sip on vodka cocktails.
Visits last about 30 minutes and it is highly recommended to book in advance. This is an Instagram worthy activity, so get your phones ready! Ice bars fill up quickly, so book in advance. You can book this tour at Minus 5º ICE BAR for taste of Antarctica. Winter jackets and boots are provided and you’ll enjoy 2 drinks of your choice.
18. Day Trip to Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a popular day trip from Queenstown to see one of New Zealand’s most famous natural attractions. Take a scenic drive from Queenstown to the UNESCO World heritage Site.
Once you arrive at Milford Sound, you’ll embark on a cruise that takes you through the fjord and offers close-up views of towering waterfalls, rugged cliffs, and diverse wildlife, including Kea birds and Seals.
This highly rated full day tour includes a scenic cruise but a return flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and lakes of the Fiordland National Park. Once you land in Milford Sound board the cruise to enjoy a boat tour out to the Tasman Sea.
19. Take a Scenic Helicopter Flight
We had the chance to do several flights in New Zealand and a helicopter tour to Milford Sound is an extraordinary experience. See one of New Zealand’s most stunning natural wonders, plus Fiordland National Park, the famed sea cliffs, rainforests, and cascading waterfalls. It’s one of the most picturesque and iconic landscapes in New Zealand.
The journey begins at Queenstown airport and takes you over alpine lakes, highland forests, and rugged peaks including majestic Mitre Peak. A highlight is often landing on a glacier, where you can step out, experience the crisp alpine air, and take in the surreal environment.
Some adventure tours include a stop at Lake Erskine, a stunning alpine lake, providing an opportunity for a short walk and photo session.
Duration: Half-day tours are common, although the actual flight time is usually about 1.5 to 2 hours, including stops. Cost: The price varies depending on the tour operator and the length of the tour, ranging from NZD $245 to over $1000. It’s a premium experience, reflecting the exclusivity and unique nature of the adventure.
20. Visit Arrowtown
Visiting Arrowtown, New Zealand, is like stepping into a charming and picturesque piece of history. This small, historic gold mining town is nestled in the heart of the Otago region, near Queenstown. It was established during the Otago gold rush of the 1860s and has retained much of its historical ch
Many of the buildings from the gold mining era are still standing and there is a restored Chinese settlement at the edge of the town. There are numerous walking and cycling trails around Arrowtown, including paths along the Arrow River and the nearby hills. The town is surrounded by mountain ranges, including the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak, offering a stunning backdrop. We took a jeep tour similar to this UTV tour to see the area that was thriving during the Otago gold rush.
21. Skiing and Snowboarding
Boasting four ski areas within reach and offering top-notch snow and terrain, Queenstown is a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding. With a lengthy ski season running from June to October, you can hit the slopes for months on end. Daily mountain transport is also available. You can rent all your gear from snowboards to boots in the town center.
Coronet Peak Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski areas in Queenstown with groomed trails and terrain parks, making it ideal for beginners and intermediates. Coronet Peak also offers night skiing from 4-9 PM, maximizing your time on the mountain.
Treble Cone provides a more challenging terrain and The Remarkables offers terrain suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. It also has a jump park for those looking to test their skills on a ramp. Cardron is located an hour away from Queenstown, boasts a wide range of terrain, and is considered the best ski resort in New Zealand for beginners.
22. Go Hiking
There are plenty of hiking trails all around Queenstown with a variety of hiking trails from easy walks to challenging multi-day hikes.
I’d recommend the Ben Lomond Track. This took us about 4 hours (one way), and we certainly faced our demons, but the views from the top were worth it! The Bend Lomond Track is one of the most popular hikes in Queenstown that is a challenging 6-8 hour return hike with an elevation gain of 1,438 m, the Ben Lomond Track is a great challenge but when you reach the Ben Lomond summit the effort is worth it with spectacular views of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.
Mount Crichton Loop Track is a moderate hike that takes you through the beech forest and past old mining ruins. It offers stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and takes around 2-4 hours to complete.
Bob’s Peak is a hike takes you to the top of Skyline Queenstown, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. The hike takes 1-2 hours, and you can take the gondola back down if you prefer.
23. Mount Aspiring National Park
Speaking of hiking, while technically not in Queenstown the Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mount Aspiring National Park, this beautiful destination is easily accessible from Queenstown. The track is a challenging 3-4 day hike that takes you through stunning alpine scenery and ends at Milford Sound.
There is more to do at Mount Aspiring National Park than hiking; you can choose to get on the water and go kayaking or take jet boat tour on the park’s rivers for a more exhilarating experience. The park is also a haven for mountaineers, with Mount Aspiring beckoning experienced climbers to conquer its challenging summit.
24. Go Golfing
We mentioned disc golf above, but people do love to golf on their holidays and there is no shortage of golfing in Queenstown.
Nestled amidst the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps and the crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s golf courses offer not just a game, but an adventure. With meticulously manicured greens and challenging fairways, these courses cater to all skill levels. There are several golf courses, including the prestigious golf course at Millbrook Resort to the course with panoramic views at Jack’s Point.
How Long Should I Spend in Queenstown?
The length of your stay in Queenstown will depend on your interests and the activities you want to do. At least 2-3 days in Queenstown is recommended to get a taste of what the town has to offer and experience a few of the top attractions.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in adventure sports and outdoor activities, a longer stay of 5-7 days is recommended. This will give you enough time to experience all of the top attractions, as well as take part in some of the more time-intensive activities, such as a multi-day hike or a scenic flight. The length of your stay in Queenstown will depend on your personal preferences and the type of trip you’re looking for.
Is Queenstown Safe for tourists?
Queenstown is generally considered safe for tourists. Crime rates in Queenstown are low, and the local police are known to be friendly and helpful to tourists.
However, as with any destination, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your personal safety and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your belongings.
In addition, if you’re participating in adventure sports, it’s important to follow safety guidelines and use reputable providers who prioritize the safety of their customers.
What is the Best Time to Visit Queenstown?
The best time to visit Queenstown depends on your personal preferences and the activities you want to do.
Summer (December to February) is the warmest time of year and is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and water sports. The weather is generally sunny and warm, making it a great time to explore the town and its surroundings.
Winter (June to August) is the ski season in Queenstown, and the town transforms into a winter wonderland. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, this is the perfect time to visit. The ski resorts in the area are world-class, and the town is bustling with visitors from all over the world.
Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also great times to visit. The temperatures are mild, and the scenery is stunning, with the changing colors of the trees and the surrounding hills. These seasons are also less crowded than the summer and winter months, making them a great time to explore the town at a more relaxed pace. .
How to Get to Queenstown
Queenstown is located in the South Island of New Zealand. It’s nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and set against the dramatic Southern Alps. It’s situated in the Otago region, southwest of Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.
The most direct route for many travelers is flying into Queenstown International Airport connecting with major cities in Australia and domestic flights from New Zealand’s cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. The airport is located close to the town center, offers spectacular views upon arrival and departure.
We rented a van and drove to Queenstown. Renting a car or a campervan is a popular option for exploring New Zealand. The roads are in good condition and easy to navigate. It’s about a 6-hour drive from Christchurch.
Bus Services: Various bus companies, such as InterCity and GreatSights, operate routes to Queenstown from major cities and towns across the South Island.
Many visitors opt for tours, which include transportation to Queenstown as part of a larger itinerary exploring the South Island’s attractions. We also took a hop-on hop-off bus tour with Flying Kiwi, which had us stay in Queenstown for two days during our first trip to New Zealand. You can stay longer and grab the next bus once it passes through a week or so later.
What is the Best Way to Get Around Queenstown?
The best way to get around Queenstown depends on your personal preferences and the activities you plan to do. Here are a few options:
Walking: Queenstown is a small town, and many of the top attractions and restaurants are within walking distance of each other. This is a great option if you’re looking to explore the town on foot and take in the sights and sounds of the local area.
Taxis and Uber: Taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available in Queenstown and are a convenient option for getting around town. A good option if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get from one place to another.
Buses: The local bus system is a budget-friendly option for getting around Queenstown. Buses run regularly to and from the town center, and there are also services to the surrounding areas, including the ski resorts.
Rental Cars: Rental cars are a popular option for those who want to explore the surrounding areas and take day trips from Queenstown. There are several rental car companies located in the town center, and this is a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and independence while exploring the area. You can compare rates here.
Is Queenstown Expensive?
Queenstown can be considered an expensive destination, especially compared to other cities in New Zealand. The cost of food, accommodation and activities can add up quickly, but there are ways to save money and still have an enjoyable trip.
Accommodation: There is a wide range of accommodation options available in Queenstown, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Consider staying in a hostel or Airbnb to save money on your accommodation costs.
Food: Eating out in Queenstown can be expensive, but there are ways to save money on food costs. Consider cooking your own meals, or eating at local cafes and restaurants that offer value-for-money options.
Activities: Many of the top attractions and activities in Queenstown come with a high price tag, but there are also many free activities to enjoy. Consider taking advantage of the many free activities, such as hiking and exploring the town center, to save money on your trip.
Transportation: Renting a car or using public transportation can be more cost-effective than taking taxis or ride-sharing services. Consider using the local bus system, or renting a car if you plan to take day trips from Queenstown.
While Queenstown can be expensive, there are ways to save money and still have an enjoyable trip. With a little planning and budgeting, you can make the most of your visit to this stunning destination.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Queenstown offers a wide variety of accommodation options from luxury accommodations to budget options. We even camped in Queenstown. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in Queenstown:
Central Queenstown: If you want to be in the heart of the action, staying in the city center is your best bet. This area is close to restaurants, bars, shops, and the waterfront. There are many options for all budgets, including hotels, motels, apartments, and hostels. Lakefront: If you want to wake up to stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, consider staying in the lakefront area. This area is slightly quieter than central Queenstown but still within walking distance to the town center. Arrowtown: If you want to stay in a charming historic town just a short drive from Queenstown, consider Arrowtown. This town is known for its gold mining history, tree-lined streets, and picturesque buildings. Ski Resorts: If you’re visiting Queenstown in the winter for skiing or snowboarding, staying at one of the ski resorts is a great option. There are several resorts located within a short drive of Queenstown, including Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Cardrona.
Queenstown is a stunning destination offering a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. From adrenaline-fueled adventures to scenic hikes and relaxing beach days, there is something for everyone in this vibrant town. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, you’ll surely find plenty of things to see and do in Queenstown.
Plan your travels to New Zealand with these guides