Queenstown, located on the South Island of New Zealand, is a breathtaking destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and adventure. With stunning landscapes and crystal-clear lakes, it’s no wonder that Queenstown is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth. But this town is more than just a pretty face. Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is a hub for thrill-seekers, and adrenaline junkies. If you’re looking for things to do in Queenstown to get the adrenaline pumping, you have come to the right place.
Top Things to do in Queenstown
Get ready to soar through the sky with a skydive, feel the rush of a bungee jump, or simply soak up the stunning views, Queenstown has it. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best things to do in Queenstown, so you can make the most of your visit and create memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Bungy Jump
Experience the thrill of bungy jumping in the birthplace of the world’s first commercial bungy jump. With three bungy sites to choose from it has to be at the top of the best things to do in Queenstown. All of the sites operate daily year-round, and Queenstown is the ultimate destination for daredevils. Read more: 8 Great Places to Go Bungee Jumping in New Zealand
Kawarau Bridge Bungy
Located 25 minutes from Queenstown in Gibbston, is the world’s first commercial bungy jump, where you can leap 43m above the Kawarau River. Jump solo or tandem, with water touches being a must-try. Free transfers from Queenstown are available.
At 43m high, it feels even higher as the bungy platform is perched on the edge of a cliff at the top of the Skyline complex in central Queenstown. With an excellent viewing area, it’s also a great option for spectators.
Standing 134m (440ft) above the stunning Nevis valley. Test your bravery and willpower with this extreme experience. Round-trip transfers from Queenstown are included, and you can combine them with the Nevis Swing for a truly memorable experience. The round trip takes approximately 3.5 hours.
Jumping from an aircraft at 15,000ft requires bravery! You are tied to a seasoned tandem master, brace yourself for a sensory overload as you hit 200 kmph. The personal challenge is huge. Soar above breathtaking landscapes, including alpine resorts, pristine lakes, and snow-capped peaks. You can book your Skydive Adventure in Queenstown in advance through GetYour Guide. Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
You can choose to freefall from the following height options:
- From 15,000ft you will freefall for up to 60 seconds.
- From 12,000ft you will freefall for up to 45 seconds.
- From 9,000ft you will freefall for up to 25 seconds.
- Book in advance.
I gave this first place on the list as everyone I’ve traveled to Queenstown with has done this activity, it’s almost a rite of passage. The views of the surrounding landscapes cannot be beaten. Your tandem master will record the whole experience which will be available for you to purchase after the dive.
3. Skiing and Snowboarding
Queenstown is renowned for its exceptional ski fields, making it the perfect winter holiday destination for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Boasting four ski areas within reach and offering top-notch snow and terrain, Queenstown is located in the Southern Alps and promises an unforgettable skiing experience. With a lengthy ski season running from June to October, you can hit the slopes for months on end.
Getting to Queenstown is simple with direct flights from major cities in Australia and New Zealand, allowing you to be on the mountain or in the bustling town center in minutes.
With a variety of ski pass options, including single-day passes and season passes, you can choose the one that suits you best. Daily mountain transport is also available. You can rent all of your gear from beginner snowboards to snowboard boots in the town center.
Ski and Snowboard Resorts
One of the most popular ski areas in Queenstown, Coronet Peak boasts well-groomed trails and terrain parks, making it ideal for beginners and intermediates. It also offers night skiing from 4-9 PM, maximizing your time on the mountain.
A ski area that provides a more challenging terrain, Treble Cone is known for its long, uncrowded, and well-groomed runs.
Another well-loved ski area, The Remarkables offers terrain suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, while also providing breathtaking views and a family-friendly atmosphere. It also has a jump park for those looking to test their skills on a ramp.
Located an hour away from Queenstown, Cardrona is a ski resort that boasts a wide range of terrain and is considered the best ski resort in New Zealand for beginners.
Hiking in Queenstown is a popular activity that offers visitors the chance to experience the natural beauty of the area and get some exercise at the same time. With a variety of trails ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day hikes.
I’d recommend the Ben Lomond Track. This took us about 4 hours (one way) and we certainly faced our demons, but the views from the top were worth it! This is one of the most popular hikes in Queenstown, offering spectacular views of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. The track is a challenging 6-8 hour return hike, with an elevation gain of 1,438 m.
Other recommended hikes in Queenstown
Bob’s Peak: This hike takes you up to the top of Skyline Queenstown, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. The hike takes around 1-2 hours, and you can take the gondola back down if you prefer.
Mount Crichton Loop Track: This is a moderate hike that takes you through the beech forest and past old mining ruins. It offers stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and takes around 2-4 hours to complete.
Routeburn Track: While technically not in Queenstown, this is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and is easily accessible from Queenstown. The track is a challenging 3-4 day hike that takes you through stunning alpine scenery and ends at Milford Sound.
Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Another popular area for hikers is Queenstown Hill located near the center of Queenstown. The most popular trail to the summit is the Queenstown Hill Time Walk, which takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. The trail starts at the end of Belfast Terrace, just a short walk from central Queenstown. Along the way, walkers pass through a pine forest and open grassy slopes, with several viewpoints offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
At the summit of Queenstown Hill, there is a stone sculpture called the “Basket of Dreams,” which was erected in 2000 to commemorate the new millennium. The sculpture offers a unique perspective on the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for photos.
5. Milford Sound
The Milford Sound scenic drive and cruise is a popular day out that offers visitors the chance to experience the stunning beauty of one of New Zealand’s most famous natural attractions.
Once you arrive at Milford Sound, you’ll embark on a cruise that takes you through the fjord and offers close-up views of towering waterfalls, rugged cliffs, and diverse wildlife. Including Kea birds and Seals.
Don’t forget to book a cruise operator before you go to ensure you get a space. You may also want to consider flying to Milford Sound instead of driving, it will take a fraction of the time although it may be more expensive. You can book a scenic cruise in advance.
This highly rated full day tour includes not only a scenic cruise but a return flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and lakes of the Fiordland National Park. Once you land in Milford Sound board the cruise to enjoy a boat tour out to the Tasman Sea.
6. Skyline Queenstown
Skyline Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the Adventure Capital of the world. Take the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu. At the top, there is also a restaurant, a luge track, and various activities such as scenic walks, paragliding, and mountain biking. Skyline Queenstown is a popular spot for both locals and visitors and is known for its breathtaking views and outdoor adventures.
You can purchase from different activities once you reach the top. The main feature of Skyline Queenstown is the Skyline Gondola, which takes visitors on a scenic ride to the top of Bob’s Peak. At the top, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including mountain biking, star gazing, dining, and the luge.
7. The Luge
Located at Skyline Queenstown, the Luge in Queenstown is an exciting and unique activity that offers visitors the chance to experience the thrill of racing down a purpose-built track. Make your way up the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for a fun adventure down the mountain.
Riders sit on a three-wheeled cart and control their speed as they wind their way down the track, taking in stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Luge is suitable for all ages and skill levels, making it a great activity for families and groups of friends.
This activity is perfect for thrill-seekers, families, and anyone looking for a fun and memorable experience in Queenstown. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a fun activity to try, the Luge is a must-do experience.
8. G-Force Paragliding
This is an addition by Dave and Deb as it is another one of the best things to do in Queenstown. It too is an adventure that can be done at the top of Skyline Queenstown. Taking the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak, make your way to G-Force Paragliding for one of the best adventures in New Zealand. This thrill begins with a short training session and then you are strapped to a qualified instructor who will take you on a tandem flight to take in the views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range.
The flight lasts around 20 minutes, depending on weather conditions, and after a running start off the edge of Bob’s Peak, you float through the air enjoying the views while letting your guide do some fun maneuvers in the air.
Paragliding at Skyline Queenstown is a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure without having to jump off a ledge or out of an airplane. Whether you are a seasoned paraglider or a first-timer, the breathtaking views and exhilarating flight will stay with you for a lifetime.
9. Mountain Bike
Also located at Skyline Queenstown, you’ll find New Zealand’s first-ever Gondola assisted bike park. Your bike will be attached to the Gondola cabin at the base, and once you reach the top, you’ll be ready to hit the trails for some downhill mountain biking.
The area offers a variety of trails, ranging from easy scenic rides to challenging technical tracks and downhill mountain biking. With over 30 world-class downhill MTB trails covering more than 30 km and offering 450 meters of vertical descent, it’s a must-visit destination for mountain bikers.
With a variety of terrains ranging from green to black, there’s something for riders of all levels. With an elevation of 790m and the longest run stretching for 6 km, the Queenstown Bike Park promises an unforgettable mountain biking experience.
The moment you spot the long line snaking along Shotover Street in Queenstown, you know Fergburger is no ordinary burger restaurant. Since its opening in 2001, it has become a staple, and for good reason. Offering a diverse menu of burgers, including 3/4lb meat patties and tofu options, all are freshly made daily, cooked to perfection, expertly assembled, and delectable.
At Fergburger, everything is made in-house, from buns to sauces, and the quality shines through. The burger joint has gained global recognition and waiting in line has become a must-do Queenstown experience. The locally-owned business has expanded with three sister establishments: Mrs Ferg (ice cream and gelato), Fergbaker, and the newly-added Ferg’s Bar, a cozy spot stocked with all the essentials.
11. TSS Earnslaw – Walter’s Peak
Get an immersive experience of farming in the New Zealand high country at Walter Peak. This idyllic farm on the southwestern shores of Lake Wakatipu promises a relaxing visit filled with fun and educational activities.
Your host will welcome you upon arrival and take you to the amphitheater to witness the incredible talent of the farm dogs as they herd sheep from the paddocks. Enjoy a walking tour of the farmyard, where you can assist with feeding sheep and deer and even get close to the Scottish Highland Cattle.
Take a leisurely stroll to the charming old woolshed for a tea break, and maybe even visit the lakeside gardens before you depart on the TSS Earnslaw for your return cruise to Queenstown. Come see why farming in New Zealand’s high country is a way of life you don’t want to miss.
12. Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown Gardens is a beautiful park located in the heart of Queenstown, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park features well-manicured lawns, mature trees, and a stunning lakefront setting, making it a popular spot for picnics, relaxing, and taking in the views.
Disc Golf in Queenstown Gardens
I’d recommend playing a game of disc golf when in Queenstown. The disc golf course offers a fun and challenging 18 basket experience amidst the park’s stunning scenery. Suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced players, the course winds its way through the gardens and is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the park while getting some exercise. This family-friendly course is perfect for families visiting Queenstown. Small Planet in the town center rents frisbees for only $5 per day!
13. Shotover River Jet Boat Tour
Another addition by Dave and Deb. The Queenstown Shotover River Jet Boat Tour Jetboat experience is probably the most popular jet boat ride in New Zealand going through the canyons of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. We seemed to do a lot of jet boating in New Zealand. The Kiwis really love their thrills on the water and jet boating is one of the best adventures you’ll have.
You can book this highly rated tour that takes you on a high-speed adrenaline rush through Lake Wakatipu and the Shotover and Kawarau rivers with 360° spins as you enjoy yet another thrill ride in Queenstown New Zealand.
How Long Should I Spend in Queenstown?
The length of your stay in Queenstown will depend on your interests and the activities you want to do. At least 2-3 days in Queenstown is recommended to get a taste of what the town has to offer and experience a few of the top attractions.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in adventure sports and outdoor activities, a longer stay of 5-7 days is recommended. This will give you enough time to experience all of the top attractions, as well as take part in some of the more time-intensive activities, such as a multi-day hike or a scenic flight. The length of your stay in Queenstown will depend on your personal preferences and the type of trip you’re looking for.
Is Queenstown Safe for tourists?
Queenstown is generally considered safe for tourists. Crime rates in Queenstown are low, and the local police are known to be friendly and helpful to tourists.
However, as with any destination, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your personal safety and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your belongings.
In addition, if you’re participating in adventure sports, it’s important to follow safety guidelines and use reputable providers who prioritize the safety of their customers.
What is the Best Time to Visit Queenstown?
The best time to visit Queenstown depends on your personal preferences and the activities you want to do.
Summer (December to February) is the warmest time of year and is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and water sports. The weather is generally sunny and warm, making it a great time to explore the town and its surroundings.
Winter (June to August) is the ski season in Queenstown, and the town transforms into a winter wonderland. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, this is the perfect time to visit. The ski resorts in the area are world-class, and the town is bustling with visitors from all over the world.
Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also great times to visit Queenstown. The temperatures are mild, and the scenery is stunning, with the changing colors of the trees and the surrounding hills. These seasons are also less crowded than the summer and winter months, making them a great time to explore the town at a more relaxed pace.
The best time to visit Queenstown will depend on your personal preferences and the type of trip you’re looking for. No matter when you visit, this stunning destination is sure to leave a lasting impression.
What is the Best Way to Get Around Queenstown?
The best way to get around Queenstown depends on your personal preferences and the activities you plan to do. Here are a few options:
Walking: Queenstown is a small town, and many of the top attractions and restaurants are within walking distance of each other. This is a great option if you’re looking to explore the town on foot and take in the sights and sounds of the local area.
Taxis and Uber: Taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available in Queenstown and are a convenient option for getting around town. A good option if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get from one place to another.
Buses: The local bus system is a budget-friendly option for getting around Queenstown. Buses run regularly to and from the town center, and there are also services to the surrounding areas, including the ski resorts.
Rental Cars: Rental cars are a popular option for those who want to explore the surrounding areas and take day trips from Queenstown. There are several rental car companies located in the town center, and this is a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and independence while exploring the area. You can compare rates here.
Is Queenstown Expensive?
Queenstown can be considered an expensive destination, especially compared to other cities in New Zealand. The cost of food, accommodation and activities can add up quickly, but there are ways to save money and still have an enjoyable trip.
Accommodation: There is a wide range of accommodation options available in Queenstown, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Consider staying in a hostel or Airbnb to save money on your accommodation costs.
Food: Eating out in Queenstown can be expensive, but there are ways to save money on food costs. Consider cooking your own meals, or eating at local cafes and restaurants that offer value-for-money options.
Activities: Many of the top attractions and activities in Queenstown come with a high price tag, but there are also many free activities to enjoy. Consider taking advantage of the many free activities, such as hiking and exploring the town center, to save money on your trip.
Transportation: Renting a car or using public transportation can be more cost-effective than taking taxis or ride-sharing services. Consider using the local bus system, or renting a car if you plan to take day trips from Queenstown.
While Queenstown can be expensive, there are ways to save money and still have an enjoyable trip. With a little planning and budgeting, you can make the most of your visit to this stunning destination.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Queenstown offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in Queenstown:
- Central Queenstown: If you want to be in the heart of the action, staying in central Queenstown is your best bet. This area is close to restaurants, bars, shops, and the waterfront. There are plenty of options for all budgets, including hotels, motels, apartments, and hostels.
- Lakefront: If you want to wake up to stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, consider staying in the lakefront area. This area is slightly quieter than central Queenstown but still within walking distance to the town center.
- Arrowtown: If you want to stay in a charming historic town just a short drive from Queenstown, consider Arrowtown. This town is known for its gold mining history, tree-lined streets, and picturesque buildings.
- Ski Resorts: If you’re visiting Queenstown in the winter for skiing or snowboarding, staying at one of the ski resorts is a great option. There are several resorts located within a short drive of Queenstown, including Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Cardrona.
Queenstown is a stunning destination that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From adrenaline-fueled adventures to scenic hikes and relaxing beach days, there is something for everyone in this vibrant town. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, you’re sure to find plenty of things to see and do in Queenstown.
With its stunning scenery, vibrant culture, and friendly locals, it is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to New Zealand.