New Zealand is renowned the world over for its serene and natural beauty. Nowhere is this more evident than the beautiful resort town of Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island.
Down below we’ll run you through the 11 best things to do in Queenstown, from walks and wineries to adventure activities for the thrill-seekers.
Here you will find yourself surrounded by remarkable mountains, one is literally called ‘The Remarkables’, clear blue lakes, native forests, and even some Lord of the Rings locations.
Queenstown truly epitomises everything travelers visit New Zealand for, adventure, relaxation, white water, southern alps, jet boating, and as a result, it is one of our favourite places in the entire world.
It’s also of no surprise that it made our list of the best places to visit in New Zealand.
In terms of how long to stay, 2-3 days is fine, but five days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Queenstown New Zealand. Some people use Queenstown as a base to visit Milford Sound.
Make sure to check out this Queenstown itinerary to make the most of your trip.
Now, here are the best things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
1. Take a Skyline Gondola Ride to the Top of Bob’s Peak
From atop Bob’s Peak, you will find the best view of the Queenstown township. This is the photo-location for thousands of postcard images.
If you’re keen for some physical activity, take a hike to the top and earn that view.
Otherwise, this is the perfect excuse to rest your legs by taking a relaxing gondola ride to the top.
This is an awesome option for kids and elderly travelers, or those wanting to save their legs for the countless other hikes in the region.
A gondola ride to the top will cost you $39 NZD – assuming you’re an adult.
Whilst at the top, there are countless Queenstown activities that will set you back a bit more. This includes luge rides and a restaurant with the best view in Queenstown.
Another hike that is popular for great views is the Queenstown Hill Walk.
2. Visit Arrowtown
Arrowtown is the cutest little town we’ve ever seen.
It’s quaint and old, renowned as a popular gold-mining town in the 20th Century. In fact, you can still pan for gold here – but only if you’re up for the challenge! We’ve never been successful.
The town itself is a 20-minute drive from Queenstown central, so it’s absolutely worth visiting Arrowtown.
If you’re visiting during Autumn then expect the most spectacular photographic backdrops of warm, Autumn colours.
We’ve heard a lot of travelers make the mistake of missing the Chinese settlement and old police camp.
It can be a bit difficult to find, but this is our favourite part of Arrowtown – make sure you get down there. If you go early you can avoid the tour groups.
3. Wine Tasting at the Vineyards
The Central Otago Region of New Zealand (where Queenstown is located) is home to some of the best wineries and vineyards in the entire world.
If you appreciate a good pinot noir , then you will be spoilt for choice here.
You could take a wine-tasting tour visiting numerous wineries, but this is likely to put you out of action for the rest of the day.
We’d recommend breaking up your day by visiting one on a few occasions throughout your trip. You’re sure to be driving past them frequently.
A quick tip is that most Queenstown wineries don’t charge a fee for tastings (some do so check before going). It’s common for a donation to a local charity to be expected, or if you like it, purchase a bottle for later and drink it by the lake in Queenstown.
Our top wineries are Amisfield, Chard Farm and Akarua which can all be found near central Queenstown.
Also, consider a winery tour around the Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s North Island, if you love wine and are visiting New Zealand.
4. Watch the Sunset at Bennett’s Bluff
There’s not a lot to do here, but Bennett’s Bluff is home to one of the best lookouts in Queenstown.
It is about a 30-minute drive on the way to Glenorchy.
It’s easy to miss, so make sure you look out for one of the countless lookouts on the main road then pull over. It’s on the edge of a mountain looking out over Lake Wakatipu.
Thanks to it being on the way to/from Glenorchy, its location makes it quite convenient.
Make a day trip out to Glenorchy and time your return with the sunset to take in these breathtaking views and capture some Instagram-worthy shots of the lake.
5. Walk Through the Queenstown Gardens
The Queenstown Gardens are a nice place to visit for an evening spent in central Queenstown. If you walk along Lake Wakatipu for 5-10 minutes you’ll find yourself here.
It is a great place to relax, feed the ducks and walk along the shore.
We love to sit at the end of the park by the water with a bottle of wine to watch the sunset. You can grab one at the wine tastings mentioned earlier!
On top of this, you can even hire a frisbee and play disc golf here. This is exactly the same as normal golf, but with a frisbee instead – so it’s much easier and faster paced.
6. Relax in a Spa at Onsen Hot Pools
Overlooking the amazing views of the Shotover River Canyon, Onsen Hot Pools is the perfect way to unwind after a hectic day spent exploring.
You can take a dip in one of their private hot tubs whilst looking out some stunning scenery. Order a bottle of wine or some snacks and relax for an hour.
The cost is $101 for two people during the day or $75 for one.
Prices increase in the evening and as you include additional people. Catching sunset would be the best time, but you will need to book well in advance – possibly even 6-12 months.
It’s still stunning during the day if you’re on a budget.
7. Eat a Famous Ferg Burgher
Queenstown is home to lots of great food options, some are expensive and some are surprisingly affordable (by New Zealand standards at least)!
Ferg Burgher falls into the affordable category, with burgers costing just $15 NZD and guaranteed to leave you feeling full.
The burgers here really do live up to the reputation. With lines down the street, you expect it to be the best burger you’ve ever eaten, and we think it is.
You can’t really eat here, so grab it take away and head on down to the waterfront to eat picnic-style. There’s almost always a busker down there offering you some tunes or entertainment whilst you eat.
Make sure you call ahead. The lines are HUGE, it’s one of the most popular things to do in Queenstown so you will not want to get there hungry and have to wait an hour.
Few tourists are aware that you can check the menu then call up and place an order. They’ll give you a time and you can walk straight up and collect your food.
8. See the Sunrise at Glenorchy
This one is going to be tough, but it’s well worth the effort.
Get up super early, grab a coffee and pie from Ferg Baker, then drive almost one hour from Queenstown to the small town of Glenorchy.
Here you will find a boardwalk extending out into Lake Wakatipu. This is one of our favourite photography spots in the region.
As the sun rises, the light shines over the mountains behind you highlighting the top of the mountains opposite Lake Wakatipu.
This effect is mesmerizing, even if you aren’t into photography it’s nice to watch the light move down the mountains whilst enjoying your breakfast.
Going in direction is also Ben Lomond, a mountain named after Ben Lomond in Scotland by the early shepherd Duncan McAusland. The summit lies approximately 4 km northwest of the town centre.
9. Bungy Jump Off the Kawarau River Bridge
If you’re a thrill-seeker, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world and bungy jumping is the ultimate of things to do in Queenstown New Zealand.
Home to the first commercial bungy site in the world, Queenstown is the perfect place to go bungee jumping – AJ Hackett Bungy is pure New Zealand fun!
Basically, expect to be tied to a bridge overlooking the beautiful Kawarau River in the Gibbston Valley. Then you’ll be pushed off and collected by a boat at the bottom.
Most of the Queenstown outdoor activities are cheap or even free, like mountain biking, but bungy jumping is the exception. Expect to pay $205 NZD for the experience, plus more if you want photos or a video.
Make the choice wisely if you’re on a budget.
Alternatively, consider taking the zip ride here instead. It’s significantly less terrifying and much more affordable.
10. Watch Sunrise at Lake Moke
Lake Moke is one of Queenstown’s most beautiful locations, and it’s not really that well-known.
This makes it a great opportunity to avoid crowds and see some spectacular scenery. You’ll want to bring your camera along, as you will leave with some stunning photos.
Lake Moke is called a ‘mirror lake’. As the name suggests, the backdrop of towering mountains is perfectly reflected on the surface of the lake.
You can drive directly to the campground here and park up. Then the best photo opportunities are a short walk away, so you don’t need to do the 3-hour hike.
For great reflections, you can simply walk 5-minutes along and get down close to the lake. For an even more spectacular view, head off-track and climb the mountain adjacent to find the best lookout spot.
11. Drive out to Wanaka
If you only have five days or less in Queenstown, then Wanaka should make the list as a day-trip. If you’re visiting for longer, you should consider staying a night or two.
There are heaps of awesome things to do in Wanaka. You have some of New Zealand’s best hikes, including Roy’s Peak and the Isthmus track – these will take you the entire day, however.
When you’re here, you will absolutely want to take the time to visit #thatwanakatree, Wanaka’s most famous (and probably overrated) landmarks has become one the the top things to do in New Zealand for photographers.
Finally, our favourite thing here is Rippon Vineyard. Here you will find the best views of Lake Wanaka with vines growing in the foreground.
You’ll also get to taste their world-renowned, organic wines.
For more ideas about things to do on that road trip, planning information, beautiful photos, and practical maps to help you plan your travels, check out ZigZag On Earth’s eBooks:
More New Zealand Travel Tips
Planning a Trip to Queenstown
Hotels in Queenstown New Zealand
Booking.com has hundreds of the best hotels in Queenstown to choose from at every price point. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
If you fancy a home and living like a local, or have a large family or traveling with a group of friends, consider Airbnb in Queenstown. They can be a better option than booking several hotel rooms.
Flights to Queenstown
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Rental Cars in New Zealand
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Popular Tours of New Zealand
- Worried about traveling alone and the logistical hassle of planning a trip to New Zealand? G Adventures is our preferred recommendation for group tours for their quality, adventure and service to giving back to local communities. See all New Zealand group tours here.
- Our partner, the Get Your Guide tour company offers many New Zealand tours and attractions. They have lowest prices, guaranteed — no booking fees or hidden charges.You can pre-book tickets and skip the line at top attractions and cancel up to 24 hours before.
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Still have questions or your own tips on what to do in Queenstown New Zealand? Leave a comment below!