With exciting adventure activities and breathtaking scenery at every turn, Queenstown is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand. So it makes sense that you want to ensure yourself and your kids get to experience this magical place together!
Of course, some of the best things to do in Queenstown aren’t particularly child friendly, and those that are can quickly add up in price.
We’ve put together this list to help you plan the perfect trip with your little ones, ensuring you get the most out of your time in Queenstown!
Things to Do in Queenstown With Kids
Whether you’re looking to keep the kids occupied during your family trip or you’re desperately looking for the best fun activities during the school holidays, there’s really a tonne of fun things to do with kids in Queenstown.
1. Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park
Kiwi Birdlife Park is a humongous 5-acre park located right in the heart of Queenstown. Yes, in Queenstown – this blew our minds! It is a family-owned wildlife centre entirely dedicated to protecting New Zealand’s various endangered species, including the kiwi.
Make sure to head there and time it well for their shows and events which are scheduled throughout the day. Admission, last time we checked, was $49 for adults and $24 for kids with better deals for families. This is a great family activity in Queenstown.
2. Explore Queenstown Gardens
Located on the outskirts of Queenstown’s city centre, nestled right up against the glistening Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown Gardens are a must-do when visiting Queenstown – whether you have kids in tow or not!
The Gardens themselves are a short stroll through a lovely park, with the loop taking you along the lake for a portion with amazing views back towards Queenstown.
It’s a flat walk and extremely short so we reckon any kid will be fine with this. Overall, try to allow 1 – 2 hours, however it can be explored briefly in about 20 – 30 minutes if necessary.
To spice things up a bit, you can grab a frisbee and play a round of disc golf. The rules are simple – just try to throw your disc into the metal baskets and keep track of your scores as you follow along the golf course. Then add it up and see who won!
3. Head to the Best Animal Petting Zoo
As it turns out, kids love animals (well, most kids anyway) and it’s always a great idea to bring them up close and personal with them. Naturally, it’s awesome to help them to feel more comfortable around animals and build compassion towards them, whilst learning about the lifestyles of the other creatures on our planet.
Glenorchy Animal Experience is located just outside of Queenstown in the town of Glenorchy and is the best petting zoo near Queenstown and one of the best things to do in Glenorchy. The children will get the opportunity to play with a bunch of friendly animals including patting and feeding horses, llamas, lambs and guinea pigs.
At $10 for children and $20 for adults it’s one of the best cheaper things to do in Queenstown with kids.
4. Hike to Bob’s Cove
Bob’s Cove is what we’d consider one of the best value hikes in Queenstown. Within just 15-minutes from the start of the track you’ll arrive at a gorgeous jetty jutting out over the shimmering green-blue waters of Lake Wakatipu.
A little further along you’ll find an easy climb up a small hill to some commanding views over the lake.
Overall, this is an extremely easy and kid-friendly hike. We’d highly recommend making this a stop as it’s the perfect spot to soak up a bit of nature whilst visiting Queenstown – we reckon this is what the town is all about!
5. Skate at Queenstown Ice Arena and Try the Ice Bumper Cars
Queenstown Ice Arena is located right in Queenstown’s city centre within the iconic Queenstown Gardens. It is a fun activity for kids and adults alike.
Ice skating is always entertaining, however, one of the more unique attractions is the ice bumper cars which can be found here. This is the ultimate bumper car experience where the cars slip, slide and spin all over the place – a lot more than your typical bumper cars!
6. Eat Out at Kid Friendly Restaurants
We’ve written an amazing guide to the best Queenstown restaurants which is really worth checking out! The good news is that we reckon almost every restaurant is kid-friendly, however, some are definitely more suitable than others.
Ferg Burger is a great option that everyone will enjoy. It’s perfect when eaten as a picnic along the waterfront, but bear in mind it can be messy.
Another obvious pick is the Cookie Time Cookie Bar which kids are likely to adore thanks to the lively decor. There is a 2 for 1 cookie happy hour from 4 – 6pm every day.
For higher end dining that isn’t too fancy, we highly recommend Nest at Kamana as our favourite restaurant in Queenstown.
7. Watch a Film at the Cinema
Queenstown is still a relatively small town and doesn’t have a lot of options for cinemas, but there is one located right in the middle of town. Unfortunately this can make parking a bit of a challenge so try walking in from just outside of town.
Reading Cinema is a pleasant, little cinema and a great option to keep the kids busy, especially on a rainy day. Alternatively, Dorothy Browns is a boutique cinema but make sure to check what they are screening first.
Head Up to Skyline Queenstown
8. Play at Chipmunks Indoor Playground Queenstown
Chipmunks Indoor Playground is a bit of an obvious pick when you’re looking for things your little ones will absolutely love in Queenstown. This large indoor playground certainly doesn’t scream ‘Queenstown’ so we wouldn’t quite call it a ‘must-do’ but sometimes you’ve gotta cave in a little and let the kids pick the places.
Chipmunks Indoor Playground is arguably the best activity to keep your kids entertained and wear them out at the same time. It’s perfect for children ages 0 – 11, older kids will likely find it a bit immature.
9. Visit Fear Factory
In all honesty, we’ve never visited Fear Factory. I get easily startled so I’m not going to opt to walk through a haunted hotel. But some people love it! Especially kids!
Fear Factory has laid claim to being the scariest haunted attraction in Queenstown. Make it a challenge and see which of the kids can last the longest.
You can book tickets in advance here.
10. Spend the Day in Arrowtown
A short drive out to the quaint town of Arrowtown is one of our favourite ways to spend a morning. Get up early and make the drive before taking the family out for brunch on the main strip.
Afterwards, do a bit of shopping – it should only take about 20-minutes as the town is sooo tiny!
At the end you’ll find a carpark. Exploring the historic buildings by this carpark is one of our favourite things to do in Arrowtown and is a great spot for the kids to play.
Nearby is also the Arrow River where the kids can pan for gold. It’s pretty unlikely they’ll find anything (it was all mined years ago) but the kids will love the hunt!
11. Enjoy a Cheeky Vino at the (More) Kid Friendly Wineries
At first taking the kids to a winery seems like a strange choice, but most of the Queenstown wineries are pretty laid-back places, many set outdoors with games and activities suited for entertaining kids.
Plus, we really think there’s no need for the adults not to have some fun from time to time. Some wineries are definitely better suited for bringing the kids along.
Wet Jacket Wines is one of our favourite wineries located just outside Queenstown. The vibe here is super casual and chill, with a sunning outdoor area, low seats and plenty of space for kids to run around.
12. Drive From Queenstown to Milford Sound
Although not technically in Queenstown, Milford Sound is a must-visit natural wonder for anyone visiting this part of the world, kids or not.
Now, there is one big disclaimer here: the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound takes around 5-hours. It’s beautiful, picturesque and has plenty of stops along the way, but fidgety kids can be hard to keep entertained for long car rides so it’s worth knowing before you go.
There are also a couple of 3-hour hikes in the region that offer monumental views of Fiordland National Park. If your children are the type that enjoy an uphill hike (I heard this can be rare) then you’ll want to check out Lake Marian and Key Summit.
13. Play at Thrillzone Queenstown
This indoor amusement park is hands down one of the best things to do in Queenstown with kids. Thrillzone Queenstown contains state of the art, multiplayer virtual reality systems, minigolf, go-karts, escape rooms and laser tag arenas.
It’s actually quite a lot of fun activities, enough to probably keep the kids occupied for a week straight. In fact, this is actually an option – sort of! They offer the Kidz Club which is essentially a babysitting service.
Not a bad option if you need a day to yourselves to explore some of the less kid-friendly attractions.
14. Explore the Best Things to Do in Wanaka
The town of Wanaka has quite a lot in common to Queenstown. This somewhat developed town is also perched right on the edge of a picturesque lake in the South Island, surrounded by beautiful scenery, great hikes and adventure activities.
The famous Roy’s Peak Hike is a popular activity here, but a bit too challenging for most children. Instead, consider the Diamond Lake Track which also has beautiful viewpoints but is a lot less difficult.
Amongst our favourite things to do in Wanaka is to visit Cardrona Alpine Resort. We’ve written up a guide on the best Queenstown Ski Fields and Cardrona is arguably the best (it’s close between them and The Remarkables). If your kids have skied before they’ll love it here, and if not then we’d recommend booking in a first-timers lesson – the instructors are great with kids!
We’ve stayed at a lot of accommodations in Queenstown, and although we don’t have children, we reckon we can tell pretty well which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t.
For a luxury pick, The Rees Hotel is undoubtedly your best option. Located right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, The Rees offers luxury with a reasonably modest price tag. The rooms are immaculate, the views are breathtaking and the staff are incredibly friendly. This is our top pick for accommodation in Queenstown for anyone.
The Sherwood Hotel is another great option and probably would be our pick for best family accommodation in Queenstown. It is a really laid-back and relaxing hotel located very close to town. It’s not as nice as The Rees but it’s about the best you can get for the price.
Free Things to Do in Queenstown
Queenstown can be expensive and finding the best free things to do in Queenstown can be a challenge. Despite this, we reckon Queenstown can absolutely be done on a budget.
To start off with, if you want to experience nature, hiking is the ultimate free attraction in Queenstown. Make sure to check out Moke Lake, Bob’s Peak, Bob’s Cove and Queenstown Hill for an easier walk, or Ben Lomond if you’re after something more challenging.
You can also explore the town for free, opting to travel on foot. A lot of the eateries in town are relatively affordable (although a lot are also expensive).
There are heaps of viewpoints and beautiful places to visit on the outskirts of town that can easily be reached by car with Bennett’s Bluff being particularly famous.
Things to Do in Queenstown in Winter
Winter is a magical time to visit Queenstown, and if you have kids in tow as well it can be a little more challenging. If your kids are old enough to ski or snowboard, we reckon get them out on the slopes as this is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Queenstown in winter.
Otherwise, your best bet is to head inside for food or warm beverages in town as the cold can bite to the bone.