Queenstown is one of the best places in New Zealand to engage in heart-racing, thrilling adventures. Paragliding, bungy jumping, jet boat riding, skydiving, hiking, skiing, and mountain biking all make the list of the best things to do in Queenstown.
But you can also keep your feet firmly on the ground and go hiking, shopping, go for a scenic drive along Lake Wakatipu, relax in a hot pool, and try out one of many of Queenstown’s fabulous restaurants and bars.
Queenstown also makes a great home base for exploring this area of New Zealand, with day trips to the Milford Sound, Arrowtown, and nearby wine regions.
In this guide, we cover not only the best things to do in Queenstown, but also numerous day trip options, where to eat, and where to stay.
About Our Experiences in Queenstown
Queenstown is one of our favorite spots in New Zealand and even on the fastest itineraries, it’s worth spending at least a few days here.
So far, we have visited Queenstown twice. The first time was in 2015, as part of a trip around the world. Despite being on a budget, we splurged, indulging in as many adrenaline-filled activities as we could squeeze into our few days here.
In 2023, we returned to Queenstown, highly anticipating our time here, since we loved it so much on our first visit. We repeated a few of our favorite activities but spent more time thoroughly exploring Queenstown and its surrounds.
It was just as wonderful the second time around. I hope you enjoy this extraordinary place as much as we do.
Interesting Facts about Queenstown
Queenstown (Tāhuna in Maōri) is located in Otago on the South Island of New Zealand.
This lovely town sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake in New Zealand. Surrounding the lake, and Queenstown, are Queenstown Hill, The Remarkables, Ben Lomond, and numerous mountain peaks.
This area was first settled by the Maōri people. Legend has it that the lake was dug using a stick by Rākaihautū, a Waitaha ancestor.
Queenstown is known as the Adventure Capital of the World. Bungy jumping and jet boating both got their start here but there are plenty of activities for people of all ages and interests. Participating in some of these activities has a big price tag, which we’ll get into later in this guide.
Best Things to Do in Queenstown
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Queenstown. At the end of this list, you can see all of them on a map.
1. Visit Skyline Queenstown
For one of the best and easiest to reach aerial views of Queenstown, ride the gondola to Skyline Queenstown.
The bottom station of the gondola is located in downtown Queenstown, just a short walk from the waterfront and Queenstown mall.
The gondola whisks riders to Bob’s Peak in a matter of minutes. Along this short journey, keep a look out for bungy jumpers at The Ledge Bungy.
Once at Skyline Queenstown, there is a long list of things to do here, which range from simply taking in the view, to shopping, to getting a little more adventurous, either riding the luge or bungy jumping.
Here is a list of things to do at Skyline Queenstown:
- Enjoy the view from the outdoor observation platform
- Ride the Luge
- The Ledge Bungy
- Grab a bite to eat at the Market Kitchen
- Have a picnic at one of the outdoor picnic tables
- Have a meal with a view at the Stratosfare restaurant
- Do the Ziptrek Ecotours zipline
- Mountain bike to Queenstown
- Hike to Queenstown
- Go stargazing
- Go paragliding
- Go shopping for souvenirs
Note: Skyline Queenstown is currently undergoing a major renovation. A new gondola has been added and the top station at Bob’s Peak is getting a big upgrade. Learn more here.
Skyline Queenstown | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
Another view from Skyline Queenstown, overlooking the line for The Luge
How to Visit Skyline Queenstown
There are a lot of ticket options for Skyline Queenstown. The cheapest ticket option is to purchase the gondola ticket, which just includes your transportation up to Bob’s Peak and back. You also have the option to add on Luge rides, stargazing, a guided walk, and lunch or dinner at the Stratosfare restaurant.
Note: The cheapest way to get to Bob’s Peak is by hiking the Tiki Trail, a 2 km one-way hike with a 450 meters (1,500 feet) climb. It’s a steep, tough hike that takes an hour or longer. Unless you have a lot of time in Queenstown, or just need to save the money, it’s best to ride the gondola.
Gondola tickets start at $52 NZD for an adult. If you want to ride the gondola and do two luge rides, this will cost you $71 NZD.
You can also purchase a family pass and upgrade your ticket to a 3 Day Unlimited Gondola Pass.
Get the full price list here.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: We recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance. This will save you a long wait in the ticket line, which can take 30 to 60 minutes on busy days.
How Much Time Do You Need?
If you want to visit the observation deck, ride the luge twice, and do a little shopping, plan on spending 2 to 3 hours at Skyline Queenstown. This includes the gondola ride and time to do the luge. Purchase your ticket in advance to save the time waiting in the ticket line.
If you want to do more luge rides, have lunch or dinner, or go bungy jumping or ziplining, add on more time. It’s easy to spend a half day or longer here, if you plan on doing multiple activities once on Bob’s Peak.
2. The Ledge Bungy & The Ledge Swing
The Ledge Bungy is located on Bob’s Peak. This platform juts out from the mountain and from here the views of Queenstown are stunning.
At The Ledge, take your pick from the bungy jump and the bungy swing. The Ledge Bungy is a 47 meter jump. It is a freestyle jump, which means you can do tricks, backflips, get a running start, whatever suits your mood at the moment.
They also offer a bungy swing, which is a great option for smaller, lighter people (such as kids) and those who aren’t quite up for the full leap off of the platform.
Tyler did The Ledge Bungy when he was 12, just barely making the minimum weight of 35 kg. He got a running start, did a forward flip, and this was one of his highlights while in New Zealand.
Minutes later, Kara pulled the ripcord on The Bungy Swing. She was too small for the bungy jump so this was a nice consolation prize. At the time, she was 10 years old and liked it so much she went back for seconds.
The Ledge Bungy | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
Learn more about pricing and hours on the official website (at the time I am writing this, The Ledge Bungy is closed due to staffing issues).
3. The Queenstown Luge
The Luge is located on Skyline Queenstown. Two different tracks snake their way over Bob’s Peak. The views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown are wonderful, but you’ll be more focused on the track in front of you.
Queenstown Luge | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
This is a great activity for all ages (kids over the age of 2 will ride with a parent). In fact, this is one of the best things to do in Queenstown with kids.
For $99 NZD adults can ride the luge all day ($69 NZD for kids 6 to 14 years old) so you can make a full day of it…and add on The Ledge Bungy or ziplining for even more adventure.
Get pricing and hours on the official website.
4. Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Distance: 4.8 km (3 miles) | Difficulty: Strenuous | Elevation Gain: 400 meters (1,300 feet) | Time: 2 to 3 hours
For spectacular views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, put the Queenstown Hill Time Walk on your list. This challenging hike climbs Queenstown Hill to one of the best viewpoints of the area.
Basket of Dreams | Chris LaBasco/shutterstock.com
On this hike, you will climb Te Tapu-nui, the ‘mountain of intense sacredness,’ and along the way, pass the ‘Basket of Dreams’ sculpture and information panels the describe the history of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.
Once at the top, enjoy 360° views of the area.
This hike starts on Belfast Terrace, in Queenstown, about a 15-minute walk from the city center.
5. Kiwi Park
Kiwi Park is the best place in Queenstown to see a Kiwi. Kiwi encounters are offered multiple times a day, where you will take a guided walk through the Kiwi House to see one of these endangered birds.
Karearea / New Zealand Falcon
This park is also home to 20 native species of wildlife, including the South Island Kākā, Kea, Buff Weka, Karearea/New Zealand Falcon, and Tuatara, just to name a few. These animals are recovering from injury and being rehabilitated, to be released back to the wild.
A visit here lasts 1 to 2 hours. It is best to take a look at the official website, to see when the Kiwi encounters are offered, and plan your visit around these times.
Kiwi Park is open from 9 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Tickets cost $48 NZD online, $52 at the door. Get updated hours and pricing on the official website.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Kiwi Park is located next to the bottom station for the Skyline Queenstown gondola, so this is a great thing to do before or after your visit to Skyline Queenstown.
6. The Queenstown Waterfront
Sitting on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu is the scenic waterfront area of Queenstown. Shops and restaurants line the waterfront. It is here that you will join a boat tour of Lake Wakatipu, if this is something you plan to do.
There is a small beach next to the waterfront that is a popular hangout spot when the weather is warm and sunny. The Queenstown Wharf Walk is a flat walking trail that runs along the waterfront, from the beach to the TSS Earnslaw.
If you want to have a drink in a unique setting, check out Perky’s Floating Bar.
Perky’s Floating Bar | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
7. Time Tripper Queenstown
Tim and I did this on our most recent visit to Queenstown. We thought it was going to be cheesy and boring, but it was surprisingly entertaining and educational.
This experience combines an educational film with an underwater viewing of Lake Wakatipu. If you are visiting with kids, this is a must do.
Time Tripper starts off with a 15-minute video about the Maōri legend of how the lake was formed and takes you to present day. It’s an educational journey through time and you learn a lot about this area.
Following the video, the staff feeds the ducks and eels, and you can view them from the underwater observation area. It’s an all-around entertaining experience.
Time Tripper is located on the Main Town Pier, next to the Queenstown beach. You’ll walk a short flight of steps to the room under the pier and get to see the underwater world of Lake Wakatipu.
The experience lasts about 30 minutes. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $8 for children. They are open 365 days per year from 9:45 am until late in the day.
8. The Queenstown Mall
The Queenstown Mall is several blocks of shops and restaurants, making this a great place to spend a few hours, for those who like shopping or if you are here on a rainy day. The mall is located in downtown Queenstown, next to the waterfront.
9. Cruise Lake Wakatipu
Another great way to fill your time in Queenstown is to cruise Lake Wakatipu. To do this, you have several options.
One of the most popular options is to take a 1.5 hour cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, which is a historic steamship. You can also cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Station for a BBQ buffet.
You can also take a lunch or dinner cruise of Lake Wakatipu.
A view of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Gardens | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
10. Take a Stroll through Queenstown Gardens
The Queenstown Gardens is a botanical garden that is located next to the Queenstown waterfront. It is a beautiful place to go for a walk and enjoy views of Queenstown.
The Queenstown Gardens Trail is a 3 km walking route through the gardens. There is also Frisbee golf, a skate park, and tennis courts.
Queenstown Gardens | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
Fergburger is arguably the most popular restaurant in Queenstown. It’s been featured in CNN Travel and has been visited by a long list of celebrities.
Getting its start in 2001, this burger joint has become one of Queenstown’s busiest spots. On our most recent visit, it had a long line out the door at all hours of the day.
On the menu is a long list of burgers and sandwiches. You can order a traditional cheeseburger, but you also have the option to dine on burgers made with chicken, falafel, tofu, cod, deer, and lamb.
The burgers are huge and you can add on fries, onion rings, and shakes. If you want to skip the line, call in your order ahead of time.
Next door are two new Ferg establishments, Fergbaker and Ferg’s Bar.
12. Chill Out at an Ice Bar
In Queenstown, you have not one, not two, but three ice bars to choose from.
We visited the Queenstown Ice Bar, which is located a short walk from the bottom station of the Queenstown gondola. We have visited ice bars around the world and the ice carvings here were some of the best we’ve seen.
Two more options in town are the Minus 5D Ice Bar and Below Zero Ice Bar, which are both located in the city center.
13. Get Your Chocolate Fix at Patagonia
Patagonia is located in the Queenstown Mall, next to the waterfront. This is the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth, dining on ice cream, sorbet, chocolate truffles, bonbons, cookies, and coffee.
14. Go Flightseeing
One of the best things to do in Queenstown is to take a flightseeing tour. These tours include Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, or you can go as far as the Milford Sound or Mount Cook.
This quick helicopter flight includes views over Queenstown and Skippers Canyon and makes an alpine landing.
This 20-minute helicopter flight is one of the cheapest options where you get stunning views of Queenstown.
Go farther, flying from Queenstown to the Milford Sound and take a cruise on the Milford Sound. This is a great option for those with limited time in the area, since you can see the Milford Sound in just a few hours (versus a full-day day trip or overnight stay in Te Anau).
15. Go Skydiving
Taking the flightseeing experience one thrilling notch higher, you also have the option to go skydiving in Queenstown.
Take your pick from a skydive at a height of 9,000, 12,000, or 15,000 feet. You’ll have a 10-minute scenic flight over Lake Wakatipu followed by a tandem skydive and a 5-minute canopy ride over the Wakatipu Basin. This is one of Queenstown’s most thrilling experiences.
16. Go Paragliding
If you want to soar through the sky but leaping from an airplane is a little too intense, paragliding is another option to consider.
We did this on our first visit in Queenstown and had a very nice experience.
Paragliding at Coronet Peak | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
To go paragliding, you are harnessed to a guide. From a mountaintop or hillside, you will run off the side of the mountain, the parachute catches the air, and you start flying.
Once in the air, it is a very smooth, surprisingly tranquil experience, where you can enjoy the views as you slowly drift into the valley.
We used Coronet Peak and had a nice experience. If we did it again, we’d try GForce for the views of Lake Wakatipu as you make your descent.
When choosing your company, look at where they fly. The views you get have a big impact on the overall experience.
17. Relax in the Onsen Hot Pools
One of the best ways to unwind after a day of bungy jumping, hiking, and paragliding is to relax in a hot tub.
Onsen Hot Pools is the most luxurious natural hot pool experience in Queenstown and the views are unbeatable.
In 2021, Onsen was a winner at the World Luxury Spa Awards. They have a day spa facility and cedar-lined hot pools that overlook the Shotover River. The hot pools are filled with water from the nearby mountains and the water is constantly being replaced with fresh water.
Onsen Hot Pools | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
The view from Onsen Hot Pools | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
There are several different experiences you can have here, ranging from 1 hour soaks to longer visits that also include time at the spa. We did the “Original Onsen,” which is a one-hour soak in a private, cedar hot tub with refreshments.
Get the full listing and pricing on the official website. We recommend making your reservation several weeks in advance because this is a popular thing to do.
18. Ben Lomond Track
For breathtaking views not only over Queenstown, but also the mountains and valleys in Central Otago, hike to the summit of Ben Lomond.
This is a challenging day hike but you can lop off part of the climb by riding the gondola to Skyline Queenstown and picking up the trail from here. Doing it this way makes the hike an 11 km (7 mile) out-and back hike with just over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of elevation gain. Budget about 6 hours for this hike.
If you skip the gondola, from Queenstown hike up the Tiki Trail or the One Mile Track to Bob’s Peak and continue to the Ben Lomond summit. These trails add on 3 to 4 km round trip with another 400 meters (1,300 feet) of ascent.
The hike to Ben Lomond should only be attempted on a clear day. Learn more about the hike here.
Ben Lomond Track | Giantrabbit/shutterstock.com
19. Hike the Moke Lake Loop
This is a much easier hike that’s great for all ages and ability levels.
Moke Lake is located about 15 minutes from Queenstown. This scenic lake is surrounded by picturesque mountains. In total, it is a 6 km (3.75 mile) loop that has a few hills along the way but is classified as easy. It takes 2 to 3 hours.
Moke Lake | Naruedom Yaempongsa/shutterstock.com
20. Jet Boat Ride
Just like bungy jumping, jet boat tours got their start right here in Queenstown. Over the years, more companies have jumped in on the action, so you have quite a few choices.
We chose Shotover Jet, simply because they do a great job marketing themselves (their billboards and advertisements can be seen all over Queenstown) and they get rave reviews.
It was a thrilling experience and Tyler and Kara, who were kids at the time, absolutely loved it.
Shotover River | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
With Shotover Jet, the experience lasts about 30 minutes, making it very easy to fit into a busy day.
KJet offers a scenic ride across Lake Wakatipu and on the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers, for a 1-hour ride.
Skippers Canyon Jet offers a 3-hour experience where you travel Skippers Canyon road (one of the most scenic drives near Queenstown) and then take the jet boat ride through Skippers Canyon.
Finally, Dart River Adventures offers a jet boat ride on the Dart River, which is located north of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
If you want something short and sweet, Shotover Jet is a great option. The ride with Skippers Canyon Jet is great for those with more time who want to combine a scenic drive with a jet boat ride through a canyon.
21. Bungy Jump from the Kawarau Bridge
The Kawarau Bridge is the site of the world’s first commercial bungy jump. Since 1988, A.J. Hackett has been throwing people off of this bridge, us included.
On our first visit to Queenstown, both Tim and I made the leap from this bridge. It was one of the scariest things we have done but it’s also my favorite memory from Queenstown.
My bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
The view looking down from the Kawarau Bridge
This jump is just 43 meters, although when you are standing on the jump platform, the river looks much further away. The bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge is the shortest in Queenstown, just a few meters shorter than The Ledge Bungy mentioned earlier.
There is a viewing platform here, which makes it very easy for friends and families watch you make the leap. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, it’s a quick drive out here and you can watch the show. There’s a jumper about once every 5 minutes.
Get pricing, hours, and sign yourself up on the official website.
22. Ben Nevis Bungy
At 134 meters, the Ben Nevis Bungy is the highest in New Zealand. Sign up for this bad boy and you’ll be free falling for 8.5 seconds!
Due to its location, the Nevis Bungy is only accessible by taking their 4WD bus. The entire experience will last about 4 hours, which includes the bus transportation to and from Queenstown. Friends and family can join you on the bus for a fee.
At the Nevis Bungy, you can also do the Nevis Swing and the Nevis Catapult. Get all of the details on the official website.
23. Go Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is a popular activity in Queenstown and one of the best places to do it is at Skyline Queenstown. There are 30 km of mountain biking tracks that twist and turn down the mountain. Ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak and take your pick from one of 30 trails to get back down the mountain.
24. Go Skiing
25. Take a Day Trip
Queenstown makes a great place to stay, to explore nearby destinations. This saves you the hassle of packing and unpacking, and in the evenings, once back from your day trip, you’ll have Queenstown’s long list of restaurants to grab a bite to eat.
Glenorchy is a tiny town that is located north of Queenstown, on the north end of Lake Wakatipu. To get here, it is a 45-minute drive along the east side of Lake Wakatipu.
On the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
This is a gorgeous drive, particularly on a sunny day. The road follows the shoreline of the lake, and as it winds its way north, the landscape unfolds and is a constantly changing. On the drive, get out and stretch your legs at Bennetts Bluff Walking Track for panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu.
The view from Bennetts Bluff | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
Glenorchy | Best Things to Do in Queenstown
Once in Glenorchy, you can take a jet boat ride on the Dart River, take a stroll along the waterfront, or have a bit to eat at one of the restaurants in town. Mrs. Glen’s Café gets great reviews.
Arrowtown is famous for its gold mining history and historic Chinese settlement. In 1862, gold was found in the Arrow River, drawing thousands of people, including a large number of Chinese immigrants.
This historic town looks like it has been plucked out of the American west and set down amongst rolling hills, vineyards, and sheep farms. It’s a wonderful place to spend the afternoon, visiting its historic sites, shops, and restaurants.
From Queenstown, it is a 20-minute drive to get here.
While in Arrowtown, visit X Marks the Spot, a sign marking the spot where Jack Tewa found gold in 1862. Next to this spot is the historic Chinese settlement.
In town, stroll the streets. You can go wine tasting in The Winery, have a cocktail at Hyde Liquor and Social, and have dinner. We had an amazing dinner at Aosta but La Rumbla, The Fork and Tap, and Postmasters all get good reviews. Make a reservation in advance.
It takes just over an hour to drive to Wanaka. There are several ways to do this drive, taking the hilly, more scenic route on Crown Range Road through Cardrona, or heading through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell.
Once in Wanaka, there is a lot to do. If you have a lot of time in your New Zealand itinerary, it’s best to spend a night or two in Wanaka if you can do it, to save you the drive.
We’ve done both: spent several nights in Wanaka and day tripped from Queenstown to Wanaka multiple times. It’s a beautiful drive between Queenstown and Wanaka, but at night, after a long day in Wanaka, that drive somehow feels longer and more frustrating.
Top experiences in Wanaka include hiking Roy’s Peak Track, doing the Wildwire via ferrata, watching a movie at Cinema Paradiso, seeing #ThatWanakaTree, hiking to Diamond Lake on the Rocky Mountain Track, and walking part of the trail that runs along the shoreline of Lake Wanaka. See the full list in our article Best Things to Do in Wanaka.
Hiking the Rocky Mountain Track in Wanaka
Cromwell & Wine Country
Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s popular wine regions to visit. From Queenstown, it is an easy day trip to Cromwell, Gibbston Valley, and the surrounding vineyards.
Go wine tasting at the Cloudy Bay Shed, Te Kano Estate, Domaine-Thomson Wines Cellar Door, Felton Road Wines, and Mt. Difficulty Wines.
Te Kano Estate
In Cromwell, we highly recommend riding the go karts at The Highlands. It’s tons of fun and you can also go for a ride on the racetrack in a Ferrari or Porsche supercar with a professional driver. Make your booking in advance because this is a busy spot throughout the day.
One of the best ways to visit the nearby wineries is on a tour. Your transportation is included so you can sip on as much wine as you like. This tour takes you to three wineries in Gibbston Valley and this tour includes four wineries plus a platter style lunch.
Even though it’s quite far away, the Milford Sound is a very popular day trip destination from Queenstown.
The Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Most visits consist of a scenic drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound followed by a cruise on the sound. From Queenstown, this is a full day experience, taking about 12 hours, with most of that spent in a car or bus.
You can do this on your own, if you have a car, just be prepared for a long day and about 8 hours of driving. This tour takes care of your transportation and Milford Sound cruise and gets stellar reviews.
For a shorter and more thrilling experience (but also pricier), you can take a flightseeing tour that includes the Milford Sound cruise. It’s an epic experience, as you get to see Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Southern Alps from an airplane or helicopter, plus cruise the sound.
Or, simply see the Milford Sound from the sky on this 1 hour flightseeing tour from Queenstown.
The Routeburn Track
The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. This multi-day hike is done point-to-point from The Divide to the Routeburn Shelter, which is very close to Glenorchy. Queenstown can be used as one of the endpoints of this hike.
This is a spectacular experience, taking hikers through Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, through rainforests, and to panoramic viewpoints of the Southern Alps. It’s typically done in 2 to 3 days but if you are fit and fast, it’s possible to hike the full 32 km/20 miles in one day.
Learn more in our Guide to the Routeburn Track.
Best Things to Do in Queenstown: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Queenstown
- The Kawarau Bungy (me and Tim)
- The Ledge Bungy (Tyler & Kara)
- Skyline Queenstown & riding The Luge
- Jet boat ride on the Shotover River
- Onsen Hot Pools
- Scenic drive to Glenorchy
- Day trip to Arrowtown
- Dinner in Queenstown (Blue Kanu and Nest Kitchen + Bar are our favorite restaurants)
- Going for a stroll along the waterfront
We also love Wanaka but think it is best to spend a night or two here. The Milford Sound is also amazing, but we prefer to do that from Te Anau, which makes it a much shorter, more pleasant day. And on a return trip to Queenstown, taking a scenic flight to the Milford Sound will be at the top of our list.
Best Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids
If you are traveling with kids, here are the best things to do in Queenstown:
- Jet boat ride
- Skyline Queenstown and The Luge
- Bungy jumping (older kids)
- Time Tripper
- Kiwi Park
- Ice cream at Patagonia
- Mountain biking (older kids)
- Take a stroll through Queenstown Gardens
Where to Eat in Queenstown
Blue Kanu. We had our best meal in Queenstown at Blue Kanu. Pacifica and Asian cuisines are blended together into what they call “Polynasia.” On the menu are really good tiki drinks. Make your reservation weeks in advance because this is one of Queenstown’s top restaurants.
Nest Kitchen + Bar. For dinner and drinks with a view, visit Nest Kitchen + Bar. This restaurant is located just outside of Queenstown in Kamana Lakehouse. It sits on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The cocktails were the best we had in Queenstown and the food was phenomenal. Again, make your reservation weeks in advance.
Nest Kitchen + Bar
Nest Kitchen + Bar
Fergburger. We already gave this one a mention, but it’s such a popular restaurant in Queenstown I couldn’t leave it off the list. Be prepared to wait in line but it will be worth it!
Eichardt’s Bar. Tim and I stepped into this small restaurant and bar for a drink and ended up indulging on their awesome list of tapas and small plates. The cocktails are very creative and this is now one of our favorite spots in Queenstown to have a drink.
Botswana Butchery. This restaurant has locations throughout New Zealand. We had a wonderful lunch here. It’s a great pick for those who want steak, lamb, or fish, although they do serve vegetarian options as well.
The World Bar. This pub serves American food in a casual, cozy atmosphere. It makes a great lunch spot in Queenstown.
Other restaurants that were on our list to try (but unfortunately, we could only eat so much food) are the Taj Indian Kitchen, Taco Medic, Perky’s Floating Bar, and Public Kitchen & Bar.
Indulge your sweet tooth at Patagonia, Balls and Bangles, or Cookie Time.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
LUXURY: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel. This hotel is located next to the Queenstown Recreational Reserve, about a 5-minute walk from the city center. Rooms range from double rooms to two-bedroom suites. This is where we stayed on our most recent visit to Queenstown and had an excellent experience.
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
UPSCALE: Quest Queenstown Apartments Remarkables Park. This apartment complex is located near the airport, 2 miles from the Queenstown city center. Rooms range from studios to one and two-bedroom apartments. Rooms come with a washing machine, so this is a great pick for families and those traveling long term.
MID-RANGE: Blackrock Apartments. This small property is located just outside of the city center, but close enough that it is possible to walk to many of the sites near the waterfront. Take your pick from one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. These come with a washing machine and kitchenette.
MID-RANGE: Bowen 19 Lake Views Gas Fire BBQ. This beautiful two-bedroom apartment has a balcony with a view of Lake Wakatipu. It comes with a kitchen, two bathrooms, washing machine, and grill. There is only one unit and this apartment gets wonderful reviews, so make your reservation as soon as possible.
BUDGET: Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This is where we stayed on our first visit to Queenstown and had a great experience. The location is unbeatable, right on the waterfront and just steps away from the gondola, Queenstown Mall, and Fergburger. Rooms range from dorm rooms to private double rooms and family rooms.
BUDGET: Adventure Q2 Hostel. This hostel is located in the city center and gets excellent reviews. You can book a bed in a dormitory room or book the double room that has a private bathroom. There is a shared kitchen and lounge.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need in Queenstown?
Ideally, plan on spending three or more days in Queenstown. This gives you enough time to indulge in all of the adrenaline packed activities that Queenstown has to offer, with the option to day trip to the Milford Sound, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, or Wanaka.
Is Queenstown worth it?
Queenstown is also known as the Adventure Capital of the World. This is one of New Zealand’s most popular destinations, with bungy jumping, jet boat riding, paragliding, hiking, and mountain biking all topping the list of things to do. Queenstown is our favorite spot in New Zealand and is the #1 place we recommend visiting on a trip to New Zealand.
Do you need a car in Queenstown?
You do not need a car in Queenstown. The city is easily walkable and you can use public transportation to get to the airport. If you want to visit the sites outside of Queenstown, you can join a tour or use the public bus.
If you have any questions about the best things to do in Queenstown, or if you would like to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to New Zealand
NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP: With 3 weeks in New Zealand, visit the highlights on a road trip to the North Island and South Island. If you have less time, you can shorten this itinerary by spending 2 weeks on the South Island.
SOUTH ISLAND: On the South Island of New Zealand, visit Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, spend a few days in Wanaka, hike the Routeburn Track, drive the Southern Scenic Route, visit the Marlborough Wine Region, and visit Franz Josef and Glacier Country.
ROUTEBURN TRACK: The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. It is one of the best hikes we have done in the world. It is typically done as a multi-day trek but can be completed in one day if you are very fit and fast.
NORTH ISLAND: Top experiences on the North Island include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (one of the best day hikes in the world), spending a day or two in Auckland, visiting Waiheke Island on a day trip from Auckland, touring Hobbiton, a visit to Taupō, and seeing the glowworms and blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Caves. For the full list, read our article about the Best Things to Do on the North Island.
We have TONS more information about New Zealand in our New Zealand Travel Guide, including Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Franz Josef, Christchurch, Wellington, Taupō, and the Milford Sound.
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