Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world with plenty of adrenaline filled activities, incredible hiking trails and amazing wine tours and helicopter tours. There is such a huge variety of places to see and things to do in Queenstown that you will need quite a few days to tick off most from this list. But Queenstown offers something for everyone, from adventure seekers to foodies to culture enthusiasts. Its natural beauty and range of activities make it a must-visit destination in New Zealand. Find in our complete guide all the best things to do in Queenstown and many more tips!
30 BEST THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN
Book a helicopter tour from Queenstown
Doing a helicopter tour in Queenstown is an unforgettable experience. It’s that kind of bucket list thing you have to do in New Zealand. You will get breathtaking aerial perspectives of the stunning scenery of Queenstown and the Southern Alps.
A helicopter tour in New Zealand is a once in a lifetime experience and a must do! There are many options for scenic flights in Queenstown with different Queenstown helicopter operators. You can explore different National Parks from Queenstown by helicopter. Mount Cook National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park all belong to the helicopter tour options.
Some of the best helicopter tour picks from Queenstown are these:
- Ultimate Mount Cook helicopter tour from Queenstown. Get the best of both worlds with a scenic helicopter flight to Mount Cook NP from Queenstown and a ski plane flight including an alpine snow landing on the Tasman Glacier! For only $425 this 12 hour tour is incredible value for money!
- Half-day Helicopter Tour to Milford Sound. See the wild fiords of Milford Sound and land on top of a glacier on the remote Mt. Tutoko.
Hike up to Ben Lomond Summit
If you love hiking then there are plenty of hikes in Queenstown to discover. The Ben Lomond Track is one of the best but also longest hikes in Queenstown. The 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) hike return to the summit with an elevation gain of 1,483 meters (4,865 feet) isn’t one for the untrained. It will take you about 6 to 8 hours to complete.
However you can also hike to Ben Lomond Saddle and skip the last part to the summit. Even from the saddle you’ll have stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, but pushing it all the way to the summit will give you epic 360 views.
There are a few options to get to the trailhead of Ben Lomond trail. You can either take the Queenstown gondola up or hike the Tiki Trail because the Ben Lomond trail starts right at the top of Bob’s Peak.
Going with the gondola will save you a few hundred meters of incline but costs $46 NZD for adults and $32 NZD for kids. If you’re short in time or don’t want to hike the extra incline via the Tiki Trail, then taking the Queenstown Gondola up is a good idea.
The views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain along the Ben Lomond track are absolutely stunning. Overall the trail is easy to follow and well maintained. Only the last part after the saddle towards the summit is a bit more technical. Just make sure to check the conditions during the winter months as the summit can be packed with snow and ice which makes it risky to attempt.
Book a wine tour
A wine tour in Queenstown is a great way to experience the region’s wine culture, sample some amazing wines, and take in the stunning scenery. Queenstown and surroundings have some of the best wineries in New Zealand and is one of the country’s most renowned wine regions. Its cool climate is ideal for growing grapes.
Central Otago wine region is particularly known for high-quality Pinot Noir, as well as other varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. A wine tour in Queenstown led by an experienced guide can provide valuable insights into the local wine industry. You will learn about the region’s history, culture, and geography at a Gibbston Valley winery. But you will also see how the different grape varieties grow, learn about the winemaking process and how to properly taste and evaluate wine. Booking a guided wine tour in Queenstown including wine tastings is one of the best things to do in Queenstown. In particular if you’re a wine lover!
Walk Bobs Cove track
Bobs Cove track is a lovely short walk near Queenstown along the turquoise cove edge of Lake Wakatipu. Located on a 20 minute drive from Queenstown, Bobs Cove track is a great way to escape the crowds in town. The 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) trail is an easy, flat nature walk through forest and along the lake shore.
Due to the crystal clear turquoise water surrounded by emerald green hills, you almost have the feeling as if you’re on a tropical island! You can actually do exactly the same things here such as swimming, sun bathing, hiking Bobs Cove track or have a picnic!
Hop on the Shotover River Jet Boat Ride
Some of the most thrilling adventure activities in Queenstown is jet boating. I personally can recommend this activity strongly if you love a bit of adrenaline! It’s one of the most fun things to do in Queenstown and only takes about an hour of your day. On a 20 minute drive from Queenstown you will find the jet boat tours in Shotover Canyon.
The very skilled driver skims the Jet Boat with 100km per hour through the narrow canyon with 360-degree spins now and then. Guaranteed laughs! Make sure to secure your seat for the jet boat a few days in advance as the boats fill up very fast!
Hire an ATV
One of the popular adventure activities in Queenstown is driving up Queenstown Hill on a guided quad biking tour. After a comprehensive training, you will hop on a fully automatic all-terrain vehicle and follow your guide over off-road trails. Safety gear and all-weather clothing is provided. Along the way you can enjoy the sweeping views over Queenstown and informative commentary of your guide. A fun selection of trails is suitable to different skill levels and the small-group tour ensures a more personalized experience.
Try the local craft beer
Queenstown is home to several craft breweries that offer a range of delicious and unique beers. Here are some of the top craft breweries to check out when visiting Queenstown:
- Altitude Brewing: Altitude Brewing is a popular brewery located in central Queenstown. They offer a range of beers, from traditional ales to experimental brews, and their taproom is a great place to relax and enjoy a cold beer with stunning views over Lake Wakatipu.
- Canyon Food & Brew Co.: Canyon Food & Brew Co. is a brewery and restaurant located in nearby Arrowtown. They specialize in creating beers that complement their food menu, and they offer a range of brews, from light and refreshing to rich and malty.
- Searchlight Brewery: Searchlight Brewery is a small brewery located in the nearby town of Alexandra. They are known for their creative and experimental brews, and their taproom is a great place to try something new.
- Smiths Craft Beer House: Smiths Craft Beer House is a bar and restaurant located in central Queenstown. They offer a huge selection of craft beers from New Zealand and around the world, and their knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect brew to suit your taste.
- Queenstown Brewing Company: Queenstown Brewing Company is a family-owned and operated brewery located in the nearby town of Arrowtown. They offer a range of classic beer styles, as well as some unique and experimental brews.Queenstown is a great place to enjoy some delicious craft beer, whether you’re looking for a traditional ale or something a bit more experimental. Be sure to check out some of the local breweries and taprooms to discover some new and exciting brews.
Glenorchy is a cute little town located at the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, stunning lakes, glacier fed rivers and ancient beech forests, Glenorchy is a magical little town away from busier Queenstown. It’s one of the perfect day trips from Queenstown with plenty of hikes, fun adrenaline filled tours with Dart River Adventures or restaurant hopping while enjoying the breathtaking views.
There are a lot of fun, cheap or even free things to do in Glenorchy. Our favourites are:
- Walk the Glenorchy Walkway
- Have a coffee at The Tradepost
- Visit the historic red shed
- Walk the jetty and admire the stunning mountain views
Paradise on earth exists! And in New Zealand it’s not a palm fringed white sandy beach with turquoise water… No, Paradise in Glenorchy is a very small village in the heart of the mountains. Surrounded by the snow capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park this slice of Paradise is worth driving further to from Queenstown during a day trip. It’s a 13-kilometer (8 miles) stretch of gravel road that takes you along the Dart River deeper into the National Park.
→ Book here your complete Paradise valley day tour. This tour includes everything you want to see in Paradise. You will visit a few movie locations used in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, catch views of the Dart River and Mt. Aspiring National Park, take a few optional hikes, explore a trail above Diamond Lake, and stop by a sheep-shearing farm. During this guided tour, you’ll also get to ride a 4WD off the beaten path to see the area used as Middle Earth in LOTR.
→ Book here your 4WD tour to Paradise. Explore the high country with an experienced guide and traverse the private farmland of Mt Earnslaw Station. Your informative guide offers a variety of options for exploring the high country, including a visit to the gold-mining town of Glenorchy in Paradise Valley.
Explore stunning Moke Lake
Moke Lake is a stunning reflection lake hidden between the mountains west of Queenstown. This picturesque lake is surrounded by the tussock covered peaks of Ben Lomond, Ben More and Mt Hanley with freshwater wetland and farmland in the valley.
There are two fun walks to do at Moke Lake. One of them is the easy 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) long Moke Lake Loop track following the lake’s edge with scenic views on the tussock covered peaks. And another, unofficial hike, is to Moke Lake Viewpoint. You will get the best views on Moke Lake from here because you’re higher up the mountain. The hike up is steep though and definitely not suitable for unexperienced hikers. But if you get higher you will be rewarded with breathtaking views! And if you’re lucky you will be the only one around, surrounded by majestic mountains with eventually some snow on the peaks left. The hike up to Moke Lake viewpoints is under 1 kilometre but is quite steep.
On calm days and at the right time, the surface of Moke Lake turns into a mirror reflecting all surrounding peaks. It truly is a photographer’s dream with the crystal clear water and breathtaking surroundings. Moke Lake is a must visit. If it’s not for the hike itself, walking along the lake and taking in the scenic surroundings here is just amazing and some of the best things to do in Queenstown.
Arrowtown is a charming historic town located about 20 minutes drive from Queenstown. It was founded in the 1860s during the Otago Gold Rush, and it still retains much of its old-world charm and heritage.
Arrowtown is known for its picturesque streets, old cottages, and beautiful scenery, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The town has many restaurants, cafes, shops, and galleries, where you can enjoy a meal, purchase souvenirs, or admire local artwork.
One of the main attractions in Arrowtown is the Chinese Settlement, a historical site that tells the story of Chinese miners who came to the area during the gold rush. You can visit the restored buildings and learn about their living conditions and way of life.
Arrowtown is also surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Arrow River, which is popular for fishing, walking, and picnicking. In autumn, the town is particularly beautiful as the trees change color and create a vibrant display of orange, red, and gold.
Overall, Arrowtown is a must-visit destination if you’re staying in Queenstown. It offers a glimpse into the region’s history, natural beauty, and charm.
Cruise Lake Wakatipu
Some of the cheap things to do in Queenstown is booking a scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake in New Zealand. It stretches over 80 kilometers and is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. During a cruise over Lake Wakatipu you can take in the stunning views of the Southern Alps and the surrounding area. You’ll see towering mountains, crystal-clear water, and perhaps even some local wildlife, such as dolphins, seals, and birds.
There are a few different scenic cruises in Queenstown to book. They all vary in duration and inclusions. Here are the best Queenstown cruises:
- Scenic Catamaran cruise. This 90 minute cruise goes the furthest along the lake so you can take in the views of Mt. Earnslaw, Bob’s Cove, Cecil Peak, Mt. Nicholas, and the Remarkables mountain range.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise. This 90 minute cruise on the last remaining vessel from the gold rush goes to Walter Peak High Country Farm and returns back to Steamer Wharf at Queenstown’s waterfront.
- Three-Course Dinner Cruise. This is Queenstown’s only dinner cruise, which includes a delicious three-course set menu. Along the 2 hour cruise you will enjoy the sweeping views of Queenstown Bay to the sheltered base of iconic Cecil Peak.
- Steamship cruise & dinner. This 4 hour cruise is with the same TSS Earnslaw Steamship as the 90 minute cruise, but includes a gourmet BBQ buffet dinner with succulent roast meats and seafood at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Drive the road to Paradise
The so called ‘Road to Paradise’ is considered being one of the most beautiful roads in New Zealand. It connects Queenstown to Glenorchy and runs alongside the shimmering blue Lake Wakatipu. The Road to Paradise provides the perfect backdrop with a new spectacular view after every bend. With no other town connecting to Glenorchy, there is only one way to get there which is via the scenic Queenstown Glenorchy road.
While driving the Road to Paradise you will pass a few LOTR locations and will be more and more immersed into nature. Stop where you like and just take in this incredible scenery.
Hike up Queenstown Hill
The Queenstown Hill trail starts right in town and is one of the short but steep hikes in Queenstown. With a total incline of 500 meter over 2,5 kilometre one way you will definitely get sweaty and feel your heart pumping. But it’s worth it as you will be rewarded with amazing views over Wakatipu Lake and the surrounding mountains.
The first part of the Queenstown Hill hike goes through the forest without many lookout points. But as soon as you pass the tree line you get to the open area of tussock grasslands and see the first lake and mountain views. Here you can see the metal sculpture called ‘Basket of Dreams’ which is a cultural landmark in Queenstown. By continuing the short loop track around the top of Queenstown Hill you will get more stunning views. You will pass a few other unmarked viewpoints which are definitely worth a photo stop. There are also a few rocky areas where you can sit down and enjoy the views.
The Queenstown Hill trail is accessible and open year round and can easily be done in any season. However, in the winter months there are chances of snow around the summit. If you’re an early bird, then hiking up the Queenstown Hill before sunrise is a great idea as well. You can see the magical morning light lighting up Queenstown and enjoy the quiet circumstances.
Hiking Queenstown Hill is one of the must things to do in Queenstown and is a great family and budget friendly activity.
Visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park
New Zealand in general is known for having a rich and unique bird life, with many species found nowhere else in the world such as the Kiwi bird. But unfortunately introduced predators such as possums, cats and stouts are a threat to many unique birds in New Zealand.
Luckily the Kiwi Birdlife Park is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.
The park is home to a wide variety of native New Zealand wildlife, including tuatara, kea, kakariki, takahe, and more. However, the stars of the show are undoubtedly the kiwi birds. They are kept in specially designed enclosures to protect them from predators and provide a safe environment for breeding.
Visitors to the park can learn about New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna through interactive exhibits and daily animal encounters. One of the most popular experiences is the kiwi bird feeding. During this experience you can watch as the birds are fed their evening meal in the darkened kiwi house.
The park also has a strong focus on conservation and education, with a team of dedicated staff working to protect and preserve New Zealand’s native wildlife. The park offers a range of educational programs and experiences for school groups and visitors of all ages. This includes guided tours, conservation talks, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
The Kiwi Birdlife Park is open all year round (except for Christmas Day) from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Walk to Lake Alta
Lake Alta track is a one of the stunning short hikes in Queenstown with incredible views. You will get to 1800 meters but only have to hike 1.75 kilometers (1 mile) to get there! The trail starts from The Remarkables Ski Field high above Queenstown which you will drive up via a steep road. Note that the entrance fee for this road is $10 NZD per vehicle. So it’s the only hike in Queenstown you have to pay ‘entrance’ to, but it’s definitely worth the money!
From the parking lot you will hike up along the ski field where the ski lift goes up. When following the signs you will then have to scramble up the hillside to get to Lake Alta. This is a stunning environment to relax and take in the beautiful views of the lake. If you want to hike up even further you can do so to get a birds eye perspective of Lake Alta. This is without a doubt some of the shortest but also most beautiful hikes in Queenstown!
Go on a Heli- snowmobiling adventure
Experience New Zealand’s only heli-snowmobiling tour from Queenstown! This thrilling 2,5 hour adventure first takes you on a scenic helicopter ride to the remote Garvie Plateau. Access to this exclusive location is only available by scenic helicopter flight, so you won’t see any other people around. You will then hop on your snowmobile to explore the backcountry while enjoying the incredible views of the Southern Alps and Mt. Cook.
Your highly skilled guide will adapt the snowmobile ride to varying levels of ability, to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.
Only available in the winter months from June until September.
Prices start from $760 USD
Ride the Luge at Skyline Queenstown
Release your inner Formula 1 driver and ride the Luge! One of the most family friendly things to do in Queenstown is riding the Luge. With this gravity-pulled go-kart you will race down a track on the side of a mountain. The Luge is located at the top of Bob’s Peak at the Skyline building. You can buy a package deal including the Gondola and Luge ride. Make sure to book at least two Luge rides as they make you go down the slow track the first time. Only the second round is where the fun begins on the faster lane!
Walk along Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes walkway is one of the stunning short hikes in Queenstown. On only a 10 minute drive from Queenstown you’ll find yourself in a very serene place. The trail follows the edge of Lake Hayes with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The flat, well maintained trail can be finished in under two hours and loops back from where you started. Because of the easy access and flat path this Queenstown hike is a perfect activity for young and old. Especially around sunset this is a popular spot as you can have a stunning golden light view. But also during the autumn months Lake Hayes is a popular and beautiful place to visit in Queenstown because of its stunning foliage colors.
The trailhead of Lake Hayes Walkway is not a particular spot, however, the easiest way to get started on the walkway is from the Lake Hayes picnic area on State Highway 6. From here you can easily walk down to the edge of the lake and turn either left or right to complete the loop.
Eat at FergBurger
If you’re a burger lover you can’t leave Queenstown before trying a FergBurger! The fresh buns, juicy patties and selection of different sauces and cheeses make the FergBurger almost taste like a gourmet meal. The hype is deserved as the burger we ate at Ferg was without a doubt the best burger we’ve ever had. FergBurger claims to have the best burgers in the world, and they definitely live up to that! Try it yourself! Even for vegetarians they have vegan burgers.
Do the Mt Crichton Loop Track
The Mount Crichton Loop track is a fun and easy hike that features rivers, different native bush, stunning lake views and a waterfall. The interesting thing is that this loop track is part of a historical trail which is the reason you will see a historical tunnel. Gold miners used to work at the Twelve Mile Creek Gorge and some remains of sluicing can still be seen. You can even walk a short detour to historic Sam Summers Hut to see an impressive rock tunnel.
The trail follows along a section of the Twelve Mile Creek that goes through red beech forest in the gullies and then ascends through mountain beech and mānuka trees. You will see beautiful views of Lake Dispute with glimpses of Lake Wakatipu. The 6.4 kilometres loop track is overall quite easy but involves a little uphill hiking and takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
Go kayaking on Lake Wakatipu
On a beautiful, calm day, kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Wakatipu is a great way to explore the stunning lake while getting some exercise in. There is a large area on the lake that is off-limits to boats, so it’s safe to paddle around. If you want to explore a wider area of Lake Wakatipu then hiring a kayak instead of paddle board is a great way to do. Go to Queenstown Beach or One Mile Parking Lot to find the Kayak rental shops who offer a kayak for rent for $30 NZD per hour.
Explore the Queenstown Gardens
If you love a stroll in botanical gardens then you can’t miss visiting the Queenstown Gardens which are located right in town. And the best part is, they are free to visit! The 2 kilometer (1.2 mi) loop takes you through the gardens and along Lake Wakatipu’s shoreline. You will also pass through a forest and of course blooming flowers and perfectly manicured gardens. In spring, the Queenstown Gardens are in full bloom which makes it the best time to visit. A fun feature of the gardens is the free to use disc golf course which is popular by the locals. You can bring your own frisbee or rent one from the Ice Arena in Queenstown for only a few New Zealand dollars.
Another way to explore Queenstown and the gardens is via this 2 hour Segway Tour through Queenstown. This eco friendly tour takes you along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the Queenstown Gardens while you will hear fun facts about Queenstown’s history and attractions from your guide.
Go Bungy juming
Queenstown is the birthplace of bungy jumping and the first commercial bungy jump in the world was done by AJ Hackett in 1987. If you’re an adrenaline junkie then bungee jumping in Queenstown is a must do. There are three different bungy jump sites in Queenstown.
Kawarau Bridge Bungy
Height: 43 meters (141 feet)
Location:Kawarau Bridge (20 minutes drive from Queenstown center)
Height:47 meters (154 feet)
Location:Bob’s Peak near Skyline Queenstown
Height:134 meters (440 feet)
Location:Nevis River which is an 1.5 hour drive from Queenstown and only accessible by their 4WD bus
Visit Mt Cook National Park on a day trip
Some of the most magical experiences in New Zealand, and without a doubt some of the best things to do in Queenstown, is going on a day trip to Mt Cook National Park. If you’re short in time but you still want to see the magic from Mount Cook from above, then this fully guided day trip combines all the key highlights of Mt Cook National Park. A scenic helicopter flight brings you from Queenstown to Mt Cook Airport where you will hop on a ski plane for an unforgettable flight to the Tasman Glacier including an alpine snow landing!
You will get picked up from your hotel in Queenstown and depart towards Mount Cook National Park while seeing amazing aerial views of the Lindis Pass, Omarama Cliffs and Lake Pukaki along the way. When arrived at Mount Cook Airport you will change the helicopter for a ski plane for the ultimate glacier experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook!
You will have about 20 minutes to explore this amazing location. When you get back to Mount Cook Airport you will be brought to Mt Cook village where you’ll have 2.5 hours free time to enjoy the Mt Cook walks or one of the extra optional activities.
Prices start from $425 USD
Make sure to book in advance as these experiences are sold out quickly!
Explore the Glenorchy walkway
The Glenorchy walkway and Lagoon track is a short but very beautiful flat walk in Glenorchy. From snow capped mountains to reflection lakes and the turquoise Rees river, you can see it all during this walk. The 5 kilometres loop track is very easy to follow on wide, gravel paths and a wooden lagoon boardwalk. There is a lot of landscape variety and birdlife to see along this easy walk. And another huge plus are the scenic picnic table and cute benches with million dollar views. Glenorchy in general is absolutely worth a visit and this short walk makes it a perfect activity for young and old.
Paragliding is another very adventurers and adrenaline filled activity you can do in Queenstown! You will run off the edge of a mountain while you’re attached to a professional paragliding instructor. During the flight you can enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu, the mountains, forests and Queenstown itself. Expect to pay around $188 USD for a flight.
Watch the sunset over Lake Wakatipu
Watching the sunset over Lake Wakatipu is a wonderful experience and one of the must things to do in Queenstown. As the sun starts to set, the sky is painted with a stunning array of colors, casting a beautiful reflection on the lake’s surface. There are many great spots and ways to watch the sunset in Queenstown. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy the sunset over Lake Wakatipu:
- Go on a Sunset Cruise: A sunset cruise on Lake Wakatipu is a great way to take in the breathtaking views from the water while enjoying a three course meal. Secure here your spot for this sunset cruise in Queenstown with three course dinner.
- Take a Scenic Drive: One of the free and easiest ways to enjoy the sunset over Lake Wakatipu is by taking a scenic drive along the lake’s shore. There are several lookout points along the way where you can stop and admire the views.
- Hike to a Scenic Spot: There are several hiking trails around Lake Wakatipu that offer stunning sunset views. One of the most popular trails is the Queenstown Hill Walk, which takes you to the top of Queenstown Hill, offering panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
- Enjoy Dinner with a View: Many restaurants in Queenstown offer stunning sunset views, so you can enjoy a delicious meal while watching the sun go down over Lake Wakatipu. Some popular restaurants with sunset views are located on Steamer Warf such as Little Blackwood, Public, or Perky’s Floating Bar. You can also go to Skyline Restaurant and Bar with the Gondola to enjoy the stunning sunset views over Lake Wakatipu from Bob’s Peak while enjoying dinner.
Explore the mountain bike trails in Queenstown
Mountain biking and cycling in Queenstown is one of the most popular sports to do. The mountain biking trails in Queenstown are stunning and there is a wide range of bike trails for every ability. One of the most popular mountain biking trail in Queenstown is the downhill mountain biking trail from the top of Bob’s Peak. You can rent a mountainbike here and purchase a daily lift pass that’ll take you up the mountain with your bike as many times as you want. This is the perfect solution so you don’t have to ride uphill every time after the descent.
Must do tours in Queenstown
Queenstown is the heart of adventure activities, wine tours and is a great base to explore some other places in the South Island. Here are some tours I strongly recommend doing while you’re based in Queenstown.
A must do in New Zealand is taking a helicopter flight. With this helicopter tour from Queenstown you will fly 20 minutes so you can see Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. The flight includes an alpine landing in the Remarkables and informative commentary from the pilot. Make sure to book in advance to secure your seat, there helicopter flights are super popular!
This activity is soo cool and I personally can recommend this strongly. If you love a bit of thrill and adrenaline then jet boating is definitely a must do in Queenstown. The very skilled driver skims the Jet Boat with 100km per hour through the narrow canyon with 360-degree spins now and then. Guaranteed laughs! Make sure to secure your seat for the jet boat a few days in advance as the boats fill up very fast!
Go on a journey through the verdant valleys and vine-clad foothills rich in gold mining history and visit some incredible boutique wineries. Enjoy a winery lunch consisting of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce.
If you want to explore the best of Milford Sound from Queenstown then this tour is for you! There are two options to do this tour.
Option one is by coach from Queenstown to the west coast of Fiordland National Park. During this day tour you will stop at several impressive viewpoints and do the Milford Sound cruise.
Option two is a scenic flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound, including the Milford Sound cruise and a different flight path back to Queenstown. This is the ultimate Milford Sound experience!
Best season to visit Queenstown
The best month to visit Queenstown depends on your preferences and the activities you want to do. Here are some factors to consider:
- Weather: Queenstown has four distinct seasons. The summers (December to February) are warm and sunny and winters (June to August) are cold and snowy. Autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) have mild temperatures and changing colors of the trees. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding or other winter activities, then winter is the best time to visit Queenstown. If you prefer outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or water sports, then spring, summer or autumn would be a better choice.
- Crowds: Queenstown is a popular destination, and it can get crowded during peak season which runs from December to February. If you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider visiting in the shoulder season, which runs from March to May and September to November.
- Events: Queenstown hosts many events throughout the year. Some examples are weekly markets, the Winter Festival in June, the Queenstown Marathon in November, and several Bike Festivals in January. If you want to attend any of these events, plan your trip accordingly.
How many days in Queenstown is enough?
The number of days you should spend in Queenstown depends on your interests and the activities you’re planning to do. There are so many things to do in and around Queenstown that you can be busy for weeks!
If you only want to experience some of the major tourist activities and do one or two hikes in Queenstown, then 3-5 days would be a good amount of time to stay in Queenstown.
Queenstown is also a fantastic place to base yourself for some time. Then you can do most of the activities in Queenstown, but also explore the surrounding National Parks. In that case you may want to plan for 7-10 days in Queenstown.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads.
We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car!The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. You can also check Rental Cars to compare at which platform you can get the best deal. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
If you are short in time, a quick 2-day visit can give you a glimpse of what Queenstown has to offer. However, it would be too short to really take in what this stunning town has to offer.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower or not because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
Where to stay in Queenstown
As with everything in Queenstown, tours, restaurants and accommodations fill up fast. So to find a great place to stay in Queenstown it is highly recommended to book your preferred accommodation (far) in advance to secure your room. You can always cancel your reservation until a certain date, so don’t wait too long with booking your accommodation in Queenstown.
There is a wide variety of options in Queenstown for every budget. From dorm rooms to super luxury hotels and self contained apartments. Here are our top recommendations.
Luxury stay in Queenstown
The Carlin Boutique Hotel is a 5 star accommodation with very luxury suites overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Some of the rooms even have a private hot tub! With a restaurant, free bikes, a fitness centre and bar you can fully immerse yourself in luxury and the incredible views of Queenstown, the lake and surrounding mountains. Perfect for couples with special celebrations!
Mid Luxury stay in Queenstown
Just a little bit out of the city centre you will find this stunning lakeview hotel. Each room features contemporary decor, premium beds and an outdoor seating area. Only a selection of rooms include unobstructed lake and mountain views. Their restaurant The Nest offers unique creations and delicious foraged herbs, seeds and wild ingredients. Even if you’re not staying at Kamana Lakehouse it is worth it to try their restaurant!
Budget stay in Queenstown
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
The Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park has studios with private bathrooms and self contained cabins with kitchenette. It is a family friendly property with kids playground and is close to everything you need in town!
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best things to do in Queenstown New Zealand. Make sure to put as many awesome hikes and tours on your itinerary when you’re staying in Queenstown!
New Zealand’s South Island is full of many more amazing hikes and things to do. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas of best places to visit, then head over to our other New Zealand travel guides.