Queenstown is a town known for its epic adventure activities and stunning natural landscapes. Nestled amongst snow-capped mountains and conveniently located along a vibrant, turquoise lake, Queenstown is the best place in New Zealand to create memorable experiences and go on some beautiful adventures.
Regardless of what sort of traveller you are, there are things to do in Queenstown for everyone. Adrenaline-junkies can experience the more extreme activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving and jet boating.
For nature lovers, Queenstown is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, all accessible either by car, boat or foot.
And foodies can check out a huge range of world-class restaurants, as well as wineries that are on the cutting edge of viticulture serving some of the best wines in the world.
We’re somewhat biased – we live in New Zealand and we absolutely love Queenstown – but Queenstown is our favourite place in the world.
We’ve put together the best list of activities in Queenstown alongside detailed information with everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable Queenstown holiday.
Things to Do in Queenstown
The heart of Queenstown is the bustling city centre. The accommodation here can be more expensive, but we always choose to stay as close as possible as some of our favourite activities in Queenstown are concentrated here, and if they aren’t, then it’s a great place to set up a base regardless.
The best restaurants and bars are found in Queenstown’s city centre, as well as cruises, the famous Skyline gondola, Onsen Hot Pools and so much more!
If you are choosing to stay here (which we recommend), then here are our top two picks for accommodation:
The Rees Hotel
The Rees is a stunning hotel located perfectly on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and just a short drive from Queenstown’s city centre. The rooms are immaculate and modern with breathtaking views out over the lake.
The staff also go well above and beyond to make your stay special, including offering a free shuttle service into town – perfect if you’re planning to have a couple of drinks.
We can’t recommend The Rees enough, we stayed in the Superior Lakeview Rooms which were around $390 per night at the time (this wasn’t sponsored, we paid full price) and it’s our absolute favourite Queenstown accommodation . You can check more recent prices and book on Booking.com here.
1. Stroll Through the Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown gardens, found right in the heart of Queenstown’s city centre, is one of the best free things to do in Queenstown – without having to go on a hike or climb a mountain!
If you’re strolling through town or staying central, the gardens will be easy to find by taking a short stroll along the waterfront of Lake Wakatipu.
A well maintained pathway takes you past rose gardens and floral displays, as well as young and mature trees, and ponds, before following along Lake Wakatipu back to the start.
Along the way you can also play a round of disc golf – it’s simple, just try to throw your disc into the metal baskets and keep track of your score. If you need a frisbee, you can easily buy one in town.
The gardens are open 24-hours. Allow yourself 1-2 hours to wander around, plus maybe a bit longer to enjoy a bottle of wine on one of the benches by Lake Wakatipu. This is one of our top spots to enjoy the sunset within Queenstown’s city centre.
2. Eat at the Queenstown Restaurants
There are loads of attractions in Queenstown, but one of our favourite things to do is eat, and Queenstown is home to an extremely wide range of high calibre restaurants. To the point where we felt the need to write an article on our favourite ones – so check out the best restaurants in Queenstown here!
For finer dining, our favourite spot is Nest at Kamana Lakehouse, with an epic $65 set menu + great gin & tonics.
3. Eat a Ferg Burger and a Pie From Ferg Baker
For cheap eats, it’s practically impossible to look past the world famous FergBurger, as well as the newer FergBaker next door.
The burgers and the pies here are the best. Taking either to go and wandering down the waterfront to listen to the buskers is an epic way to enjoy a meal – and just for a few dollars.
4. Ride the Queenstown Gondola
It’s pretty hard to miss the building nestled in the mountain right in the heart of Queenstown, not to mention the gondola that climbs its way up to said building.
The view from up here is extraordinary, and the fact that you can get up here without doing a 2-hour hike is a bonus (though walking is also a cheaper alternative if you prefer to earn your meal at the top).
The gondola is $44 directly on the Skyline website, but if you’re keen to head up it makes sense to combine it with a luge (and maybe a meal). You can book direct or through Klook here. We find it easier and sometimes cheaper. Either way, it’s the same gondola!
5. Take a Scenic Lake Wakatipu Cruise
Lake Wakatipu is majestic to view from the shore (honestly, we think it’s incredible), so take the opportunity to head out onto the water and see the region from a different angle.
One of the most popular scenic cruises on Lake Wakatipu is on the Spirit of Queenstown which conveniently departs from Queenstown harbour. It’s a great activity that enables you to view The Remarkables, Queenstown, Cecil Peak and more, all from the water.
What we like best about the Spirit of Queenstown Cruise is how it includes a visit to Bob’s Cove. We included this spot later on in this list thanks to it’s epic view and unbelievable turquoise water. If you opt not to take this cruise, definitely consider the Bob’s Cove short walk – it’s well worth it.
6. Check Out the Queenstown Music Festivals
As a significant NZ town and major tourist destination for New Zealanders and overseas travellers, Queenstown gets to host numerous music festivals throughout the year.
This can range from small events to large ones. Last time we stayed in central Queenstown, we stumbled upon a free music festival with local bands performing in a park in the middle of the CBD. We grabbed a bottle of wine and some food and had a picnic – so keep an eye out for this sort of thing!
Other events include solo local and international artists, through to large festivals such as Rhythm and Alps (hosted in Wanaka this year), Snow & Bass, Snow Boxx and Snowmachine (the last three are, unsurprisingly, hosted during Winter in Queenstown).
7. Experience Queenstown Skyline
We gave the gondola it’s own spot above, but Queenstown Skyline is a full Queenstown attraction in itself. It includes a range of attractions, ranging from the Gondola, to the iconic luge, Stratosfare restaurant, gondola-assisted bikepark, event centre, epic views and a variety of hikes and walks.
As a tourist, it’s worth heading up and at least checking it out. There’s loads of awesome things to do to keep you (and any children you may have) busy. But bear in mind, it is a tourist attraction, so expect to see tourists, pay tourist prices, and do tourist-y things.
8. Head Out on the Lake on the TSS Earnslaw
Technically, yes, this is another cruise. But it’s also a little different. The TSS Earnslaw is an iconic piece of Queenstown’s history. It is the only commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere (thanks Wikipedia) and is a protected heritage site.
As with the Spirit of Queenstown Cruise, you’ll get the opportunity to explore Lake Wakatipu and view the incredible scenery that surrounds the lake. On top of this, you’ll hear interesting commentary, get to explore a historic landmark (including checking out the engine room), and if you book the right activity you can get a great meal out of it as well.
You can check out all the TSS Earnslaw tours here, there are a few options to choose from including a farm tour, a meal or just the cruise.
9. Chill Out in One of Queenstown’s Ice Bars
We visited Queenstown a few times and made a point of avoiding the Ice Bars. They sounded like a strange tourist attraction to us – and I suppose we weren’t wrong. But eventually someone bought us tickets so we made our way here and had an absolutely great time.
Essentially, it is just like any other bar – so if you like having a drink in a bar you can’t go wrong with an ice bar in Queenstown. The main difference is you get to check out some impressive ice sculptures, wrap up in some super warm clothes, and get a frozen bum sitting on benches made of ice.
10. Go to Luma Queenstown
During Queen’s Birthday Weekend, The Luma Southern Lights Project, Queenstown’s biggest art festival sets up on the scenic shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Luma is a huuuge light show constructed out of artistic installations and sculptures, performances, and community contributions.
Cost is just $5 for adults, kids under 12 are free. The best time to visit Luma is around sunset as it begins to get dark. The installations are typically best viewed with some ambient light, but you still want it to be dark!
So far, it’s been hosted in Queenstown Gardens by the lake. You can take a free shuttle from Frankton shopping centre, but free parking is usually easy to find on the streets near Queenstown Gardens. Just don’t try to park too close to town.
11. Soak in the Onsen Hot Pools
The Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown are one of the trendiest spots for Instagrammers and avid soakers alike. It’s not the cheapest hot pool in New Zealand, but it’s likely to be one of the most scenic.
When we went, we made sure to book as close to sunset as possible to get some epic lighting. The views look out over the Shotover River Canyon and are pretty epic. We think sunset is the best time, but during the day is a great option as well. We’d just recommend avoiding night time as you’ll miss the view.
They have plenty of parking and the pools are located around a 5-minute drive from Queenstown – it’s closer than it feels. Alternatively, if you don’t have a car or feel like having a few drinks while you soak, they offer a shuttle service from Queenstown as well.
In terms of price, it’s about $150 for an evening onsen for two, or $126 during the day. You can easily book a Garden or Original Onsen with or without a free shuttle pickup here, otherwise contact them directly for something a bit more special.
12. Explore the Queenstown Bars & Nightlife
For such a small place, Queenstown has a great bar scene – but don’t go expecting world-class night clubs!
A few of our favourite bars in Queenstown:
1876 – the best way to start a night out with cheap happy hour drinks from 4-6pm, and from 10-12am to help you keep the night going. It’s always packed out.
The Sundeck – our favourite rooftop bar in Queenstown, as well as our favourite Gin & Tonics. The vibe here is great with shared couches, blankets and fireplaces.
Attiqa Gin Bar – Just below The Sundeck, you’ll find a great gin bar with a wide range of drinks and cocktails. We prefer the rooftop, but if the weather doesn’t agree then Attiqa is another great option.
The World Bar – Next to Yonder, The World Bar is a popular bar with great cocktails and good food.
Of course, you can also head to the gimmicky but still cool Ice Bars mentioned earlier. Or look into booking a pub crawl – this way, even if the locals aren’t out partying, you’ll still end up with a cool group of people to hang out with you.
13. Try Free Fudge and Shop at the Remarkables Sweet Shop
Sweet shops, disappointingly, don’t really exist these days. Except in Queenstown! The Remarkables Sweet Shop is an NZ-famous sweet shop with stores in Queenstown and Arrowtown.
Make sure to pop in for some free samples and take home some of their eclectic flavours of fudge, nougat and bags of lollies.
14. Explore Queenstown on a Bike Tour
Queenstown itself is easy to explore on foot, but getting on a bike is a great way to cover more ground.
Self-guided is the way to go. This way you can travel at your own pace, plus they are far more affordable.
For a bike tour around Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley (yeah, this is where all the Queenstown wineries are!), then this self-guided tour is your best bet. It includes pick up and drop off, maps, helmets, but more importantly, the bikes are e-bikes. Exercise is good, but the tracks can be hilly (it’s called the Gibbston Valley).
It’s without question the best bike tour, especially if you’re hitting the wineries.
If you’re not on an epic wine adventure, then you can probably find somewhere central that will rent you a bike for a bit less. This would be a great way to explore along the shore of Lake Wakatipu.
15. Nibble on 2-for-1 Cookies at Cookie Time Cookie Bar
Queenstown’s best happy hour can be found from 4-6pm daily at the Cookie Time Cookie Bar.
Hot cookies can be picked up on a 2-for-1 promotion making them awesome value. They aren’t huge so definitely grab two for yourself, sharing isn’t ideal.
16. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset
We love getting up early for sunrise. The lighting is perfect and everyone is still in bed making for a special moment every time.
Near Queenstown, our favourite spots for sunrise are Moke Lake, Lake Hayes, Glenorchy and Meiklejohns Bay’s Broken Jetty.
For sunset, we love to watch it from Queenstown Gardens or in the heart of town with some food (usually Ferg Burger) and a bottle of wine.
17. Go Shopping in Queenstown Center
You won’t find any multi-story shopping malls, but there’s a bunch of little shops around town that are well worth checking out. It’s a particularly good way to spend a few hours and we love just wandering around the streets of Queenstown.
If you need some outdoors stuff, Torpedo7 in Queenstown is great, or check out some of the smaller, independently owned stores that are often hidden away. There are a few gift / souvenir shops as well if you’re after something Kiwiana to take back home with you.
18. Listen to the Buskers & Have a Picnic by the Lake
Although it died down a little during Covid, Queenstown’s city center is usually bustling with people. Along the lakefront, right in the heart of town you can usually find stalls set up selling wares and buskers playing tunes (and sometimes dancing).
Amongst the regulars are a man and his singing dog and an incredible saxophonist called Elliot Allemand. When international travel was allowed we found a wider variety with some incredibly talented overseas musicians.
Consider grabbing Ferg Burger or some tacos from Taco Medic and having a little picnic at the nearby park.
Extreme & Adventure Activities in Queenstown
Venture outside your comfort zone with these thrilling things to do in Queenstown. Renowned as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown caters to all adrenaline junkies.
Tie yourself to a bridge and dive into a valley, ride a jet-powered boat down a whitewater river or ride a submersible shark through Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is home to all the best adrenaline activities NZ has to offer.
19. Go Bungy Jumping
Perhaps the most iconic adventure activity in New Zealand and the one our country is most renowned for. Bungy jumping is a thrilling experience that is well worth ticking off your bucket list (or adding to it if it’s not already there)!
The most popular bungy in New Zealand is the AJ Hackett Bungy in Queenstown. The architecturally designed, modern bungy centre is built into the cliff overlooking the powerful Kawarau River. A platform extends out from the building where staff will strap you in and give you a bit of a pep talk (and safety briefing) before sending you on your way down into the gorge.
There are options to dip your head in the water, different positions, as well as other activities here including the zipline.
Unfortunately, the only issue with bungy jumping is the cost. It’s definitely one of the more expensive things to do in Queenstown, but if it’s on your bucket list then we reckon it’s still worth it. There’s really no better (or safer) place to try it.
In terms of prices, expect to pay $143.50 if you book online, plus they also sting you on the photos and videos costing $45 each or $70 together. Alternatively, bring a friend with a zoom lens and ask them to take some pictures for you. It’s more about the experience than the photos.
20. Try Paragliding in Queenstown
Wondering what’s cooler than bungy jumping? Probably paragliding. For around the same price as a bungy, you can take in some of the most incredible views in Queenstown as you launch off the towering Coronet Peak and glide down over Queenstown.
We reckon it’s much better value. It’s definitely a lot higher, lasts a lot longer (2-hours instead of 10 seconds) and gets you far better views – Coronet Peak is a great spot to visit even if you aren’t planning to paraglide.
For booking, you’ll want to decide whether you’re travelling in Summer or Winter as the experience varies significantly.
For summer bookings, you can book here from Coronet Peak Paragliding for $153. The guys at Coronet Peak Paragliding are some of the best paragliders in New Zealand, so you can be confident you’ll be safe in their hands.
In Winter, you can paraglide over snow capped mountain ranges. It costs a little more at $175, and again we recommend booking the Winter Package from Coronet Peak Paragliding.
21. Go Skydiving
Ready to step it up again? The highest paragliding in Queenstown launches from 1100 meters, but with NZ One Skydive you can make jumps as high as 4,500 meters!
Push yourself well out of your comfort zone as you jump from a plane at 9,000 or 15,000 feet over the stunning Remarkables mountain range. If you can look past the adrenaline you’ll get majestic views over Lake Wakatipu, whilst freefalling through thin air for 25-60 seconds.
Either way, you’ll get a memorable adrenaline rush all whilst being in the safe and capable hands of some of the best Skydivers in NZ.
22. Experience Jet Boat Queenstown
Jet boating in Queenstown is one of the most popular and exhilarating activities you could choose. Most jet boat operators head down either the Kawarau or Shotover Rivers, flying past rocks and over whitewater rapids at up to 90kph – so expect to get wet.
Tours are regulated and as far as we’re aware, all operators are safe, provide lifejackets, run safety briefs, and follow strict safety protocols. That said, it still pays to do some due diligence and book with well-known, popular operators with great track records.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites:
This is who we booked with and probably one of the most popular jet boat operators in Queenstown. This 1-hour jet boat ride runs down the Kawarau and Shotover rivers and is conveniently located in the main town pier. This makes it an easy and great value option. Tickets are usually $137 but sometimes go on sale for $99 – so if you see a deal it pays to grab it.
If you’re short on time, GO Orange is a cheaper and quicker option with a $55 ticket for a 25-minute jet boat ride. We think it’s worth paying a little extra for the 1-hour experience. As with KJet, Go Orange also conveniently departs from Queenstown’s main wharf.
One of the most popular jet boat experiences in Queenstown, Shotover River Jet heads down the Shotover River and offers a similar experience to the others. It’s a little less convenient as it’s located just outside of Queenstown, but there is a shuttle included in the price.
We reckon Skippers Canyon Jet is probably the coolest option here, but we’re yet to try them out. Skippers Canyon Jet heads down the Northern section of the Shotover River where the river is narrower – the views look breathtaking. This tour also visits some LOTR locations so definitely pick it if you’re a fan.
23. Go White Water Rafting Queenstown
In the 1970s, Queenstown became home to New Zealand’s first white water rafting business operating in the upper Skippers Canyon. Since then, white water rafting has taken off as an incredibly popular tourist attraction in Queenstown.
With two powerful rivers, the Kawarau and Shotover, Queenstown’s the perfect place to give it a try – but definitely think carefully before booking in Winter. Queenstown gets cold all year round, especially during the Winter months.
Make sure to pick a legitimate business with great reviews as white water rafting is dangerous without the right equipment and expertise. Challenge Rafting is a great option.
24. Ride the Luge
Make your way up the iconic Skyline Queenstown Gondola where you’ll find loads of popular tourist attractions. One of the most popular adventure activities is the luge.
Essentially, this is an epic version of go karting where you get to roll down a mountain using momentum to reach high speeds. This activity is fun for and exhilarating for adults, but it’s also a safe and great option for kids.
25. Try Jet Skiing or Water Skiing Queenstown
Strap yourself into some skis and cling on as you get pulled by a boat, or take the reins yourself on a jet ski. This thrilling activity is an epic way to experience Queenstown from the water.
26. Head Out in a Hydro Attack / Shark Submersible
Queenstown’s the only place we’ve been where you can expect to see a giant robotic shark burst out of the water whilst eating a meal by the lake.
Hydro Attack is a company in Queenstown offering NZ’s only experience to ride in a submersible shark. Sadly, and unsurprisingly, you don’t get to take control of the shark. Instead, you get to ride in the cockpit for 15-minutes as the pilot takes you on a fast-paced tour of Lake Wakatipu within Queenstown’s city centre.
Tickets cost around $109 here, which is steep for a short period of time, but bear in mind it’s a pretty unique experience which you won’t find anywhere else.
27. Go Canyoning
Canyoning is possibly the most hardcore and extreme adventure activities in Queenstown. It doesn’t have the same rush as bungy jumping or skydiving, but with canyoning you are literally taking your life into your own hands.
That’s exactly what makes canyoning so fun and rewarding. Scale cliffs, slide or abseil down waterfalls, swim in rivers and try ziplining – all in one half or full day activity.
Remember, canyoning is a difficult activity. You’ll need to be reasonably fit in order to make it through the day. Also bear in mind that it is definitely a Summer activity. You’ll be wet the entire time and Queenstown is cold in Winter.
We recommend this half day tour with Canyoning NZ. It is safe, as well as fun and challenging, and it only costs around $150. It’s designed for beginners so if it’s your first time it will be perfect. If you’re a bit more experienced, try talking to them to find something suitable.
28. Try Ziplining
Ziplining is one of my favourite things to do, and Queenstown is probably the best place in the world to do it. Ziplining experiences overseas can be exhilarating, but not always safe (don’t read the horror stories). In New Zealand, however, you can be confident your life is in experienced, safe hands.
Take the Gondola up to Skyline Queenstown, then head out on a 2-hour or 3-hour ziplining adventure (depending how much you love ziplining). Soar through the native forest of Bob’s Peak and take in the view overlooking Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the snow capped mountains beyond it.
The best ziplining operator in Queenstown is Ecotrek Tours, which you can book on Get Your Guide:
2-Hour Ziplining – 4 lines over 2-hours for $105 per person
3-Hour Ziplining – 6 lines over 3-hours for $141 per person
29. Head Out on a Quad Biking Tour
Some of the best views in Queenstown can be found by hiking for hours, so finding faster ways to cover more ground is a great way to fit more in. Horse riding and cycling are great options, but quad biking is more fun.
One of these epic walks is Queenstown Hill, which is where this Quad Biking trip by Outback New Zealand embarks. The team makes use of 4wd tracks around Queenstown Hill to take you to some of the best viewpoints in Queenstown. And of course, you get to take control and drive your own quad bike.
This tour is great for people of all experience levels. If you’ve never been on a motorbike before, the team will patiently teach you (it’s not hard) and they also provide all the gear you need.
Queenstown Walks & Hikes
Some of the best walks in New Zealand can be found within a short drive from Queenstown. The views from most are absolutely incredible, but bear in mind the best views usually need to be earned.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite walks in and around Queenstown, as well as a few that look truly epic and are still on our own bucket list.
Some are easy (e.g. Bob’s Cove) whilst others can be extremely challenging. Especially be careful in Winter as some walks can be closed or unsafe to attempt in icy or wet conditions.
30. Queenstown Hill Hike
Queenstown Hill is hands down our favourite hike within Queenstown’s city centre. It’s a short drive from the centre of town, up the hill past some awesome new developments to a carpark.
After this, you can walk up for about 1.5-hours to a couple of incredible viewpoints. The first is a sculpture called ‘Basket of Dreams’ – an artwork that itself has over 200 4.6 star reviews on Google. It’s a popular spot on Instagram and it’s fun to climb on the sculpture.
A short walk up higher from here is the viewpoint at the top. A rocky outcropping offers epic views looking out over Lake Wakatipu. A definite must-do hike in Queenstown, and very much a high reward for a not too difficult walk.
31. Bob’s Cove
Bob’s Cove is probably the easiest walk on this list making it great for everyone. The walk takes about 15-minutes before you arrive at a super cute jetty that juts out over beautifully blue and clear water.
We couldn’t believe this spot was still Lake Wakatipu as for some reason the water seemed a different colour to the rest of the spots we’d stopped at along the lake.
We’d recommend stopping off to do this walk either on the way to or from Glenorchy, or consider adding it to the day if you are tackling the longer Lake Moke walk.
32. Tiki Trail
If you’re heading to Queenstown, you need to make your way to the top of Bob’s Peak. Most tourists opt to take the Gondola, but there is another way! The Tiki Trail starts at the base of the mountain, near the Gondola, and climbs a well-marked and maintained track to the top.
We’ve always opted for the Gondola, saving our legs to tackle one of the numerous other walks in the region. But whether you choose to walk or ride to the top, the views are extraordinary as they look out over Queenstown City and Lake Wakatipu.
Keep in mind, this is a relatively tough hike. It’s not too long, about 1-hour to the top, but the elevation gain is significant at over 400m.
33. Ben Lomond
Continuing on from atop Bob’s Peak is the Ben Lomond hike. This hike offers arguably the best view in Queenstown – which is no surprise given it reaches 1.7km altitude!
The hike itself is a very challenging day hike from Queenstown. You have a few options. Firstly, starting from Queenstown it is an 8-hour hike that covers 11km distance and an elevation gain of 1,400 metres.
You can shorten the hike by taking the Gondola up to Bob’s Peak instead of walking this section. As mentioned above, this section is short but covers around 400m of elevation gain so cutting this out will make the hike quite a bit easier.
You also have the option of stopping at the Saddle around 400m below the summit. Again, making the hike significantly more achievable. That said, the best views are found from the summit so if you have the time and fitness then it’s worth giving it a shot – assuming the conditions are safe to do so.
Don’t attempt this hike in Winter unless you have mountaineering experience.
34. Wye Creek
The Lower Wye Creek Walking track is a steep, 4-hour walk across private land that passes a hydro dam to a rock bluff and stream. The highlights of this walk include a stunning waterfall that cascades down to Lake Wakatipu and vast, breathtaking views over the lake.
The track carpark is located a 20-minute drive from Queenstown. The walk is only accessible in Summer as it can be dangerous in Winter.
35. Moke Lake
Moke lake is one of our favourite spots in Queenstown. If you’re looking for an easy hike with awesome views, the Moke Lake Loop should be on your list. It takes about 2-3 hours to complete the circuit, which is mostly flat apart from one section in the middle.
If you aren’t feeling up for a hike, the best views on the loop are actually found about 5-minutes walk from the carpark just across the boardwalk. This spot looks directly out towards the centre of the horseshoe shaped lake.
Alternatively, for a more challenging hike with epic views, we’ve been planning to make our way to check out an alternative Moke Lake viewpoint. This can be found by following the first section of the loop to the fence, following the fenceline then looking out for a somewhat concealed track. This track heads up the mountain to commanding views overlooking the lake.
No matter what you choose, we recommend heading here for sunrise as the lighting is great and the lake is at its calmest for reflections. It’s also a popular spot at night for astro-photography.
36. Lake Hayes Walk
The Lake Hayes Walk is an easy, relatively flat, 8km loop around Lake Hayes. It’s a pleasant walk located a short drive from Queenstown with a few great spots to enjoy. Overall, the walk takes about 1-2 hours.
If you’re short on time, the walk can be done in sections accessed from the road. The Lake Hayes Lookout on the Northern section of the lake is a nice place to hang out for sunset, there is a park here.
An even better sunset spot is on the Eastern side along the Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Road. Head to the location ‘Lake Hayes Scenic Spot’ and walk along the path until you reach a small jetty. This is a great spot to take some photos and hangout on the shore. The sun sets to the West making it a great sunset location.
Alternatively, at sunrise the sun shines over the mountains to the East reflecting on the mountains on the far side of Lake Hayes.
37. Glenorchy Walks
A short 40-minute drive from Queenstown is the cute town of Glenorchy, made especially famous for its epic scenery that featured in the Lord of The Rings films.
Even though not technically in Queenstown, we love exploring all the hikes and walks in Glenorchy. Here are some of our favourites:
Lake Sylvan Track – a short 40-minute walk to a viewing platform with awesome views over the lake.
Diamond Lake – an 80-minute walk past Lake Reid to Diamond Lake, a beautiful lake and campsite.
Routeburn Track – a bit more effort than the previous ones, the Routeburn Track is a challenging 33km, 4 day tramp. It is one of NZ’s Great Walks, and probably one of the best ones at that.
38. Roy’s Peak
Made incredibly famous from Instagram, Roy’s Peak is one of the most popular walks in New Zealand thanks to the truly incredible views found from the top.
Again, Roy’s Peak is technically not in Queenstown, but it features in many Queenstown itineraries and is absolutely within driving distance being located in Wanaka.
Roy’s Peak is a challenging hike, so don’t let the influencers fool you. Expect to climb over 1,200m in elevation over 5-7 hour, covering 16km in distance.
The views are worth the effort – and its place on this list.
39. Moonlight Track Queenstown
The start of the Moonlight Track is located in the heart of Queenstown, at the base of the previously mentioned Tiki Trail. You make your way up to the Ben Lomond Saddle (optionally, skipping the start via Gondola) before taking a detour to head over to Arthur’s Point.
Overall, the hike will take you around 4-5 hours from Queenstown (or optionally starting from Moke Lake), and you will require a pickup from Arthur’s Point.
We haven’t had the chance to try this walk, but reviews typically rate it in the shadow of the Ben Lomond Summit hike – which is no surprise. Despite this, the views are incredible the entire way.
40. Mount Crichton
The Mount Crichton Loop track is a 2-3 hour hike in Queenstown taking you up to some beautiful views out over Lake Dispute.
The track is fairly well maintained, with a bit of elevation gain that adds a little bit of a challenge, but it’s pretty achievable for anyone.
For a longer hike, you can also consider linking this up with some other tracks in the area including the Lake Dispute track and the Moke Lake track.
Things to Do in Queenstown in Winter
Winter is a magical time to visit Queenstown, and in our opinion it’s the best and most scenic time of the year. It does, however, snow in Queenstown and the winter temperatures…oh, yes, it gets cold.
Most of the attractions on this list still apply in winter, but here’s a few special ones that you can only do in winter!
41. Visit the Queenstown Winter Festival
The Queenstown Winter Festival runs at the start of July each year in Queenstown and is one of the best things to do in Queenstown in Winter for free.
As the name suggests, the Queenstown Winter Festival is a festival packed with awesome Winter-y events! Events include music, concerts, galleries, ice skating, markets, film festivals, parties, deals and more.
Obviously, the Queenstown Winter Festival isn’t something to plan your holiday around, but if you happen to be in Queenstown for the Winter Festival then be sure to check it out.
We happened to be down there for the 2021 Welcome to Winter festival which was the 2021 replacement for the official Queenstown Winter Festival. Queenstown really came to life, the vibe was awesome and the events made the city centre even better than before.
42. Go Skiing or Snowboarding in Queenstown
The ultimate Queenstown Winter activity and the reason people flock to the region during these months. Skiing and Snowboarding are truly epic sports and there’s no better place to do it than Queenstown.
You have four Queenstown ski fields to choose from:
Cardrona Alpine Resort – one of NZ’s top ski fields with numerous fields, incredible views and world-class facilities. Our favourite ski field near Queenstown and an absolutely awesome place to go if it’s your first time skiing or snowboarding. The only catch is Cardrona is located about an hour’s drive through the Crown Ranges.
The Remarkables – more conveniently located to Queenstown than Cardrona, The Remarkables is a large ski field a 45-minute drive from Queenstown. There is a wide variety of runs and truly epic views.
Coronet Peak – the closest ski field to Queenstown, Coronet Peak is located just a 20-minute drive from town along a high-quality tar sealed road making it by far the easiest to get to. It is possibly a bit less beginner-friendly than the previous two fields.
Treble Cone – Treble Cone has potentially the best view of any ski field in New Zealand. The drive takes about 1.5-hours, but it’s worth it for the views alone. Beyond this, however, Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island and has a reputation for being an incredible place for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders.
All of the above ski fields are great for people of all levels, but our recommendation from Queenstown would be Cardrona – especially if it’s your first time.
You can easily book tickets online for all of these ski areas, or head into one of their offices in Queenstown city centre. They also offer various options for transport if you are concerned about driving.
43. Go on a Helicopter Alpine Landing Ride
Head on up to the top of a mountain for an awesome alpine landing in Queenstown. We love going up mountains in Queenstown, and the best way to do it is in a helicopter. Not only is it much quicker and easier, but you also get access to places that are literally impossible to hike to.
44. Try Night Skiing
Night Skiing is a more unique activity in Queenstown. Instead of heading out during daylight hours, try making your way up Coronet Peak at night for some skiing under the moonlight.
Coronet Peak is the only field in New Zealand that offers this so it’s a great idea to take this opportunity! Plus it frees up your day for some of the other activities on this list. Consider grabbing dinner in Glenorchy or Arrowtown beforehand.
Read more in our guide to Queenstown skiing including the best ski fields in Queenstown.
45. Check Out the Winter Nightlife
The nightlife in Queenstown takes on a different vibe in winter. It can best be described as cosier. The bars tend to be warmer, often with fires going, live acoustic music, coat racks and a vibe that screams ski village.
Our favourite bar is Little Blackwood, it’s small and cosy and a great place to relax to escape the cold.
Day Trips From Queenstown
A trip to Queenstown doesn’t mean you need to spend all your time in the city centre. It is the perfect place to set up base in the South Island whilst exploring all the other stunning places close to Queenstown.
These day trips from Queenstown are some of the best places to visit in New Zealand’s South Island. Consider visiting them as a day trip or making them a weekend getaway. They are all within 5-hours drive from Queenstown, some under an hour.
Dunedin is an awesome place to visit that’s not too far from Queenstown. It is one of NZ’s larger cities and is located on the east coast of the South Island.
Due to the drive, Dunedin would be a pretty difficult day trip (we’d recommend one of the others if you only have a day), but it makes for a great overnight stay.
Whilst here, you can take the time to explore the surrounding region. We love The Catlins located along the coast to the south of Dunedin, where you can explore beautiful landscapes, such as the Nugget Point Lighthouse, and see wildlife such as penguins and dolphins.
The Moeraki Boulders are also a great place to stop off and take a few pics.
Must-do attractions within Dunedin itself include Larnach Castle and the Botanic Gardens. There’s some cool things to do here, but we think the beauty lies outside the city.
Distance from Queenstown: 3.5 hours
Must-Do Activity: Admission to Larnach Castle and Gardens
47. Milford Sound
Milford Sound is one of the best things to do near Queenstown and should be at the top of your list for day trips. If you can stretch to an overnight with a stay in Milford Sound Lodge, then even better!
Getting there is a bit of a trip. You can smash the drive out in a few hours, but you’ll want to stop along the way as it’s amongst the most scenic drives in New Zealand – especially the last portion. If you aren’t renting a car or don’t want to drive, I recommend choosing a coach and cruise or flight and cruise day trip package.
The flight is incredibly scenic and well worth the extra cost, but you do miss out on the scenic drive. It’s an easy sacrifice.
Once in Milford Sound, you have just a few activities to choose from. For a day trip, we recommend making sure to book a cruise to get out on the water. If staying the night, first thing in the morning is the perfect time. We went with Mitre Peak Cruises. They have the earliest cruise which meant we made it out before the crowds (and other boats) which was far more peaceful.
Alternatively, make us jealous and take the baller approach and go for a helicopter and cruise for a truly unforgettable day.
There’s also a short walk near the ferry terminal which is well worth it. If you’re driving, we also recommend exploring a few of the walks. The Milford Track and Kepler Track are great multi-day hikes, but our favourite shorter walk is up to Lake Marian.
Distance from Queenstown: 3.5 hours (give yourself 5 hours including stops)
Must-Do Activity: Milford Sound Cruise
48. Mount Cook
Aoraki, or Mount Cook, is nestled within New Zealand’s largest mountains. It stands imposingly over the village and is a beautiful place to visit year round.
Getting there is a 3 hour drive north of Queenstown. If you like salmon, make sure to stop off on the drive at one of the salmon farms (there’s at least two). If you don’t like planning or driving, book an awesome full day tour from Queenstown to Mount Cook.
There’s not a lot of accommodation in Mount Cook Village and they can book up so it’s good to book in advance. The village is the perfect place to stay and the views are epic. We chose to stay at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge and we were very happy with our choice.
Once there, the best thing to do is go on some walks. The two main short walks are the Hooker Valley Track and the Tasman Glacier walk.
Distance from Queenstown: 3 hours
Must-Do Activity: Tasman Glacier and Hooker Valley tracks.
Glenorchy itself is a pretty basic town, but the overall region is awesome! Home to some epic Lord of the Rings filming locations, great walking tracks and some super cool activities (like horse riding) there’s more than enough to keep you busy.
We wrote an entire article on the best things to do in Glenorchy, so make sure to check it out for some more inspiration.
The drive is only about 40 minutes from Queenstown so it’s perfect as a full day trip. Along the way, also stop at Moke Lake for some photos and don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road as there’s some great views.
Distance from Queenstown: 40 minutes
Recommended Accommodation: EcoScapes, or just stay in Queenstown
Must-Do Activity: A half-day Glenorchy and Paradise Tour
Wanaka has a lot in common to Queenstown and is probably the next best somewhat developed town in the area.
As with Queenstown, there’s loads of awesome things to do in Wanaka. Our favourites are eating out, going on hikes (Roys Peak and Isthmus walks are favourites), visiting our favourite winery Rippon (though check out our full guide to the best wineries around Queenstown) and of course hitting the slopes in Cardrona.
Distance from Queenstown: 1 hour
Must-Do Activity: Roy’s Peak or Isthmus walks and Rippon Winery
51. Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound is next on our list when we head down to the South Island. Milford Sound is absolutely stunning and we’ve done our best to explore the area whilst the place is a bit less crowded (due to the lack of international visitors!).
But Doubtful Sound looks equally beautiful but even quieter, bigger and relatively less ‘touched’ by tourism. Visiting Doubtful Sound is definitely a bit more of a journey than Milford Sound.
Your best bet is to book something a cruise from either Manapouri or Queenstown. The most common option is a cruise, with overnight cruises also being popular.
This 1 day Doubtful Sound trip by Real Journeys is arguably your best value and most convenient pick. They collect you in Queenstown, drive to the terminal and take you on a 3-hour cruise through Lake Manapouri and on to explore Doubtful Sound.
Distance from Queenstown: 4 hours
Recommended Accommodation: Most likely stay in Queenstown to do a day trip, or an overnight cruise, or there are a few options such as Deep Cove Hostel.
Must-Do Activity: Doubtful Sound Day Trip
52. Franz Josef & Fox Glacier
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are located about 4.5-5 hours north of Queenstown on the west coast, which is again, an incredibly scenic drive.
Due to the long drive, it’s recommended to tackle this as an overnight trip staying at a hotel in Franz Josef.
In terms of things to do, you’re really visiting to see the incredible glaciers. A 1.5-hour hike will take you near Franz Josef glacier to a great viewing area around 750m from the glacier terminal.
The best way to experience Franz Josef, however, is to get up close by booking a heli-hike. This way you get to ride in a helicopter and take in the view of the glacier from the sky, before landing and climbing through icy crevasses to really experience the landscape and the glaciers.
Fox glacier is equally impressive and well worth a visit when in the area, as is the incredibly photogenic Lake Matheson.
Distance from Queenstown: 4.5 – 5 hours
Must-Do Activity: Scenic Heli-Hike on Franz Josef Glacier and sunrise at Lake Matheson.
Visiting Arrowtown is our favourite way to spend a morning just outside of Queenstown. This super cute and quaint town is just a 20-minute drive away from Queenstown and is packed with cafes and shops.
A visit to Arrowtown is also one of the best things to do in Queenstown for elderly. You can walk through the entire town in just 5 minutes, seeing all the great shops and cafes / eateries. There’s also a small museum, a bookstore and a great little movie theatre.
If you’re here with kids, then take them panning for gold in the river nearby. It’s unlikely you’ll find much of anything (maybe a few gold-tinged spots) but the kids love the hunt.
Our favourite thing to do here is to explore the old Chinese settlement and police camp and walk around the surrounding area.
Distance from Queenstown: 20 minutes
Recommended Accommodation: Millbrook Resort is incredible, otherwise we highly recommend staying in Queenstown and just driving to Arrowtown.
Must-Do Activity: Explore the chinese settlement and police camp.
54. Gibbston Valley Wineries
Certainly one of the most popular day trips in Queenstown, head on out to the Gibbston Valley and try some of the best wines in New Zealand.
The Central Otago region is renowned all around the world for its Pinot Noir grapes, but don’t shy away from trying the other varietals. We particularly love some of the rieslings and gewurztraminers grown in the region.
We wrote an entire article on our favourite Queenstown wineries, but our top picks from the Gibbston Valley would have to be Amisfield and Wet Jacket Wines. Amisfield had our favourite wines, but the outdoor, laid back vibe at Wet Jacket makes it an ideal place to hang out.
Rippon is the winery with by far the best views, but bear in mind it’s not in the Gibbston Valley so you’d need to head to Wanaka for it – and it’s the only winery in Wanaka.
In terms of getting around, your best bet is to nominate a sober driver. But if you have one of these, you’re lucky. We think the best option is definitely to book a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the Gibbston Valley.
They’ll pick you up, take you to all the best wineries, transport your purchases and bring you back at the end of the day – definitely a great deal.
Many people also opt for a bike tour. We reckon this is a great idea for sightseeing, but mixing more than a couple of wine tastings with a long bike ride is a terrible idea. Remember, some of the wineries have steep drive ways.
Distance from Queenstown: 20 minutes
Recommended Accommodation: Stay in Queenstown
Must-Do Activity: Hop-on, Hop-off Winery Bus Tour
Things to Do in Queenstown With Kids
Whether you’re looking for the best school holiday activities, or you’re trying to keep the kids occupied during a family holiday, there’s plenty of fun things to do with kids in Queenstown.
55. Play at Chipmunks Indoor Playground Queenstown
Perhaps not quite the reason you head to Queenstown in the first place, but a visit to Chipmunks Indoor Playground is arguably the best activity to keep the kids entertained and wear them out at the same time.
The playground is perfect for kids between 0 and 11 and is located in Frankton, not far from the airport.
56. Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park
The fact that there is a 5-acre kiwi birdlife park located right in the heart of Queenstown came as a surprise to us on our third visit to Queenstown. Kiwi Birdlife Park is a family-owned wildlife centre that is dedicated to protecting New Zealand’s endangered species.
If you head there, make sure not to miss their shows and events that are scheduled throughout the day. Admission for adults is $49, for kids $24, and they have incredible pricing deals for families as well, making this a great family activity in Queenstown.
57. Head to the Best Animal Petting Zoo
Kids love animals (mostly) and it’s always a great idea to give them the experience of being up close and personal to them.
Glenorchy Animal Experience is located just outside of Queenstown in the town of Glenorchy. It is a farm with a bunch of friendly animals for the little ones to feed, pat and play with. Animals are your typical farm-fare including huge horses and llamas through to lambs and guinea pigs.
It’s also an extremely affordable activity at just $10 for children or $20 for adults.
58. Skate at Queenstown Ice Arena and Try the Ice Bumper Cars
Located right in the heart of Queenstown, heading to the Queenstown Ice Arena is a fun activity for kids of all ages as well as adults.
One of the more unique things to do in Queenstown is to try out the ice bumper cars, found at the Queenstown Ice Arena. This is the ultimate bumper car experience, where the cars slip, slide and spin a lot more than normal bumper cars.
If you don’t have children, then we reckon ice skating and ice bumper cars also make for an awesome date night and is one of our favourite activities in Queenstown for couples.
59. Watch a Film at the Cinema
You don’t have a lot of options for cinemas in Queenstown, but at least the one you do have is located right in the heart of Queenstown’s lively city centre. Of course this makes parking tricky, but just park up outside the town and walk in for a few hours.
Reading Cinema is a handy little cinema and a great Queenstown activity to keep the kids busy!
Alternatively, make your way out to Queenstown to Dorothy Browns – but this is a smaller, more boutique cinema so check the films they’re screening first.
60. Eat Out at Kid Friendly Restaurants
Fortunately, most of the restaurants in Queenstown are kid-friendly, but some are more suitable than others. If you’re happy for a picnic, then Ferg Burger is a great option as long as you call ahead. You don’t want to be stuck in a line with antsy children.
The Cookie Time Cookie Bar is obviously a great pick for kids, with decor that will keep them entertained and a 2 for 1 cookie happy hour from 4-6pm every day.
Joe’s Garage is a great, low key diner type restaurants to take the family. And for higher-end dining, we found the staff at Nest great and we’d be comfortable bringing kids along with us too.
61. Visit Fear Factory
If we’re being honest, we wouldn’t make our way here. I’m already easily startled to volunteering to walk through a haunted hotel sounds like a terrible choice.
But some people love it – kids included! Fear Factory in Queenstown claims to be NZ’s scariest haunted attraction. A great chance to test out your competitive nature and see who can last the longest.
You can book tickets in advance here.
62. Enjoy a Cheeky Vino at the (More) Kid Friendly Wineries
Wineries and kids? Generally not a great mix, but it’s not always all about the children and some wineries are just straight up more suitable for bringing kids along to.
Our clear first pick would be Wet Jacket Wines just outside of Queenstown. The vibe here is super casual and low-key, with a beautiful outdoor area with low seats and grass for the kids to run around.
For a nicer pick, Amisfield would probably fine as well. They have a small vineyard out the back that the kids can run through.
63. Play at Thrillzone Queenstown
Thrillzone Queenstown is an indoor amusement park. It includes state of the art, multiplayer virtual reality systems, as well as a minigolf course, go karts, escape rooms, and laser tag and paintball arenas.
Yeah, that’s actually quite a lot of activities and they could probably keep the kids busy for a whole week. So you know what the best part about this is? They offer what is essentially a babysitting service, called Kidz Club.
Just drop the kids off (they’ll be looked after by a staff member) then head off on a hike or a winery tour.
If you’re not looking to lose the kids, you can book in a simple VR session here.
Budget Accommodation: YHA Lakefront & Adventure Q2
We’ve stayed at a few hostels in Queenstown and the YHA Lakefront is definitely our favourite. The views from the Queen room we stayed in were impressive, particularly at this affordable price point.
On top of that, the rooms were clean, included all the amenities you’d expect, plus some nice extras like a hairdryer. The kitchen and shared facilities are all great as well.
Perhaps the best part of the YHA Lakefront is the location. It isn’t right in the heart of Queenstown where parking is expensive, instead it’s located a 10 minute walk from the city centre. Parking is free and easy.
It’s a popular hostel, so another affordable option we enjoyed staying at was Adventure Q2 in the heart of town.
Mid-Range and Luxury Accommodation: The Rees
When it comes to mid-high end accommodation, Queentown has no shortage of stunning homes and hotels to choose from.
The Rees Hotel is definitely one of the best hotels in Queenstown, located right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is a short drive from town. If you’re planning a few extra drinks or don’t feel like driving, there is also a free shuttle service that runs regularly into town.
The staff are exceptionally friendly and will go above and beyond to make your stay special.
The views from the Superior Lakefront Rooms are luxury with a relatively mid-range price tag. We highly recommend staying here and are confident you’ll love your time here.
The price of the room when we stayed was around $390 per night but the rates do fluctuate throughout the year. You can check rates and book here.
Queenstown Activities Prices
Queenstown is far from a cheap place to visit, but we truly believe you can make a trip to Queenstown fit any budget.
Backpackers often purchase a van to stay in then flip it at the end of their trip, or opt to stay in affordable hostel accommodation. You can save money as well by doing the free activities around Queenstown, our pick being hikes.
If you have a more baller budget, the sky is absolutely the limit. If you’re really wanting to spend some money, the best thing to do is go on some unbelievably memorable excursions. And that means helicopters, scenic flights and cruises. A scenic flight to Milford Sound should definitely be on your list, as well as a stunning lakefront room at The Rees.
Queenstown Indoor Activities
Queenstown is all about the outdoors, and you should absolutely be making the most of it – else why bother going! But we can’t control the weather, and luckily there are a bunch of great things to do indoors in Queenstown.
Our favourite pick is wining and dining – in other words, exploring the awesome restaurants and bars around Queenstown’s busy city center. Also consider the ice skating rink with bumper cars, Onsen Hot Pools, the cinema, or even the bowling alley.
Queenstown Outdoor Activities
Queenstown’s allure is driven by its natural beauty. Get out on the lake, hike up mountains, climb through gorges and do everything you can in the great outdoors.
In Summer, we love to eat our meals to-go by Lake Wakatipu and listen to the buskers.
Ben Lomond, Queenstown Hill and Roy’s Peak are all epic, must-do hikes if you’re outdoors-y.
Things to Do in Queenstown for Couples
Queenstown is definitely the most romantic place in New Zealand (though we’re a little biased)!
Make sure to check out some of the romantic restaurants in Queenstown, Nest at Kamana being our favourite for a special night out, or Blue Kanu for a casual date night. Add on a drink at Little Blackwood (try the Japanese Garden during happy hour) for a great, romantic night out.
We also love to get up for sunrise, there’s hardly anyone around and the lighting is perfect – there’s no better time. Combining this with a walk isn’t overly romantic, but having your partner there to keep you company is essential.
If romance is what you’re after, then the most obvious pick is the Onsen Hot Pools.
In terms of accommodation, our pick for couples accommodation is still The Rees – we thought it was perfect. But we’re a couple and we also find ourselves staying at backpackers, it’s sometimes more fun to meet other couples to hang out with.