There seems to be an almost endless supply of amazing Queenstown activities.
And any trip to New Zealand's South Island would not be complete without visiting this iconic location.
Queenstown has it all. Breathtaking scenery, a huge range of accommodation, and a never ending variety of things to see and do.
And that's why it's probably our favorite New Zealand destination.
Queenstown is known as the "Adventure Capital" of New Zealand, and for very good reason. If you want to bungy jump, white water raft, take a thrilling jetboat ride, ride your own luge cart down a winding track overlooking Queenstown, or any one of dozens of other action packed Queenstown activities, then this is the place for you (and don't forget that Queenstown is also home to two major ski fields, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables).
But Queenstown is also a wonderful place to chill out and relax.
Take a cruise on the historic steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Catch the
gondola ride to Bob's Peak, 450 meters above Queenstown, for amazing views. Or how about a lake side
meal and a glass of local wine? Or a visit to a local winery? Or, just sit back on the balcony of your apartment and watch the world go by. We love it!
Yes, Queenstown has something for all tastes.
Also on this page....
There's lots of information on this page, so to save scrolling down, you can go directly to the bits you want by following the links below:
* Action packed Queenstown activities - our top tips!
* Relaxing Queenstown activities - for when you just want to chill!
* Low cost Queenstown activities
* Beware - some tips about Queenstown accommodation
* Queenstown location map
Queenstown is located in the Southern Lakes area of the South Island, and is around 6-7 hours drive South of Christchurch.
From Christchurch the most direct (and picturesque) route is via State Highways 1, 79, 8 then 6. This route will take you past Lake Tekapo, and the turnoff to Mt Cook. Both of those places make wonderful overnight stops if you want to break the trip up.
If you happen to be coming from the West Coast you will follow State Highway 6.
See the State Highways map.
You can also fly directly to Queenstown from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, and also from several Australian airports.
We love flying in and out of Queenstown because the views are amazing. And we have found Queenstown airport much easier to negotiate than some of the larger airports.
From the airport to the center of town is around 15-20 minutes drive. There are taxis available from the airport, and most of the major car rental companies have a shopfront at the airport (please check when hiring your car).
We can help with rental cars and camper vans, and our rates are excellent. Just click HERE to see the range of vehicles.
You can also book airport transfers between the airport and town:
Some tips about Queenstown accommodation
Queenstown has a huge range of accommodation, with everything from camping sites to 5 star luxury apartments and holiday homes.
Central Queenstown is very busy, and most parking is pay as you use, and it can be very difficult to actually find somewhere to park.
Queenstown is also a very hilly place, so that easy downhill walk into town has to be balanced with the struggle back up the hill after a meal and a few drinks!
Because of this we recommend that you:
We've stayed at various hotels and apartments in Queenstown and now make the central downtown area our chosen location.
Our favorite is Pepper's Beacon, but be sure to request a lake view. We've stayed here at least a half dozen times, and love it's location, views, and spacious apartments. The balconies are perfect for entertaining and for taking in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountains. We love sitting outside and watching the old steamer the TSS Earnslaw cruise by, as the jetboats buzz in the distance.
And in the cooler months, the gas fire and heated bathroom floors are just what you need after a day out.
It pays to do your research when choosing your accommodation.
You can read reviews and make bookings for the Beacon and other Queenstown accommodation by clicking on the buttons below:
Here are our recommended high thrill Queenstown activities:
Bungy, bungy, bungy!
Queenstown is the home of bungy, and has several bungy sites to cater for various levels of adventure.
AJ Hackett, known as the "father" of bungy, has operated in Queenstown for many years, and has the world's first bungy site at the historic Kawarau bridge (43 metre jump).
But if you are looking for a more daring Queenstown activity, try the Nevis Bungy (134 metre jump), the Nevis Arc (promoted as the world's highest swing), the Ledge Bungy and the Ledge Sky Swing, both of which launch you 400 metres over Queenstown!
We could only summon the courage for the Kawarau Bridge, but wow! What an amazing thrill. This is something that you really must do.
And a word of advice about deciding to bungy. Don't think about it too long or you will find a way to talk yourself out of it. Just do it! Over the years we have witnessed numerous people full of bravado talking up how they were going to jump. But it's amazing how courage can fade when you are standing on that tiny platform looking down at the river or ground way below!
And if you do decide to bungy, it's worth paying the extra for a dvd of your jump. Your friends and family may not believe that you actually did it without proof!
To read reviews and learn more about your Queenstown bungy options just click on the buttons below:
Queenstown is famous for jet boating. Jet boats are an incredible piece of machinery. Their design gives them amazing control, and allows them to operate in water as shallow as 10 centimeters (2 to 3 inches). Unbelievable but true.
There are several jet boat operators in and around Queenstown. Perhaps the best known are the Shotover Jet, and the Kawarau Jet. Both provide thrilling rides with a clear difference. The Shotover Jet (the big red boats) operates on the Shotover River, and winds its way at high speed through the gorge. It seems at times that you could reach out and touch the huge rocks as they flash past (do not try that under any circumstances).
The Kawarau Jet (the big yellow boats) operates from downtown
Queenstown, and crosses Lake Wakatipu before entering the Kawarau and
Shotover Rivers. You will be amazed as your pilot takes you over
seemingly impossibly shallow channels. On our last trip we could not believe where we went. We were waiting for our driver to turn but he just kept going through the shallows!
Dart River Safaris operate from the Dart River near Glenorchy, about 45 minutes drive from Queenstown. The drive to Glenorchy follows the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is highly recommended. Don't forget your camera.
You can read more, check customer reviews, and book your thrilling adventure by clicking on the buttons below:
Skyline Gondola and Luge
This is a "must do".
The Skyline Gondola and Luge are accessed from the town centre. The Skyline Gondola takes you on a relaxing 5 minute ascent to Bob's Peak, some 450 metres above Queenstown.
Reputed to be the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere, the views from the top are simply stunning.
If you are looking for a relaxing way to pass a few hours, this is perfect.
There are ample viewing decks, a gift shop, restaurant and snack bar at the top, and it is a wonderful place to pass some time whilst gazing over Queenstown.
But the Skyline complex is also home to the Skyline Luge, which in our opinion is one of the very best of all Queenstown activities.
The luge operates on two 800 meter long concrete tracks which wind their way down the hillside. The advanced track is steeper and faster, but there is also a beginners track to get you "up to speed". Your adventure starts near the restaurant, where you board a chair lift which takes you further up the hillside. Once there, you receive your luge cart, and instructions from the helpful staff.
Choose your track, and you are on your way. I have to confess that I'm addicted to the luge! My son and I have spent many hours racing down the hillside. What an amazing, fun way to spend a few hours. And all the while looking down at Queenstown, 400 meters below.
The luge carts are easy to use, and you maintain control over speed and direction via a set of handlebars. You will find that your confidence and skill will increase the more you practice. Remember, obey the staff at all times, and use the beginner's track until you have enough confidence to try the advanced track.
You can read more about the Skyline gondola complex by clicking HERE.
What a great Queenstown activity. Enjoy!
White Water Rafting
Queenstown has all the ingredients necessary for amazing white water rafting.
This is one of those things that you will do and think "why didn't I do that before!".
The rivers around Queenstown have great flow, and because of the rocky country in and around Queenstown, a good rapid is never far away.
There are several operators in Queenstown, and all provide professional, guide assisted white water adventure at its best.
Choose from the Kawarau or Shotover Rivers and get ready for a fun filled adventure, as periods of calm water are interrupted by roaring rapids.
And all the while with a backdrop of some of the best scenery in the world.
White water rafting provides the perfect way to see and experience the magnificent waterways of the Queenstown region.
Queenstown activities are seldom more challenging or thrilling.
But don't take our word for it.
Just click on the buttons below to read reviews learn more about these awesome tours:
Queenstown is a place of great beauty, and the best way to see it is from the air. If you have the opportunity, you can fly directly into Queenstown. The views are stunning.
But for a real "close up" why not try a tandem skydive. You have several options available. Probably the most thrilling is the 15,000 ft tandem, where you free fall for 65 seconds! At 200 kph!
You will be strapped to a fully qualified jump master, and after deployment of your parachute, you will marvel at the vista unfolding beneath you. You will never have a better view of Queenstown and surrounds.
Are you game to try?
Don't delay, read reviews and book now:
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's premier paragliding and hang gliding sites.
Tandem paragliding flights are available from the top of the Skyline Gondola, and take you on a scenic 8-12 minute flight, eventually landing in the fields below.
You can choose to have a relaxed sightseeing tour, or a more energy charged descent.
Which ever option you choose, the views won't change. Stunning Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu unfold below you and offer some of the most amazing views available anywhere in the world.
Tandem hang gliding tours operate from Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, and offer all the thrills of para gliding, with the added bonus of launching from sites ranging from 3,000 ft to 3,8oo ft high!
American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.
Winter Starts Here! There is plenty to get excited about as the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter party, the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival gets into it each June .
The Festival celebrates the beginning of winter with a jam packed 10 day programme featuring some hilarious, possibly outrageous and definitely unique Queenstown events.
There are fireworks, comedy, drag races, birdman action, live music, food and wine, street parades, family fun, a great mix of internationally acclaimed performers and home-grown acts, a ball – and that is just in town! Up on the mountain you can catch loads of winter action with ski races, mountain mayhem, novelty events and superb entertainment.
Every year an injection of fresh new events is sure to get everyone into the party mood.
Since first being staged in 1975 by Queenstowner’s who thought the arrival of snow was a ‘great excuse for a party’, the Festival has evolved to forge a unique identity as New Zealand’s premier celebration of all things winter.
Now an iconic event cemented on New Zealand’s calendar, it attracts 60,000 attendees and injects a whopping $45 million back into the local economy.
The Festival gets underway in style at the free American Express Opening Party with a spectacular fireworks display, live music, mulled wine, and plenty of laughs.
Check out all the Queenstown Winter Festival action here.
Other Thrilling Queenstown Activities
Other fast paced Queenstown activities include 4wd quad bike
adventures, rock climbing and abseiling, hiking and mountaineering
tours, heli flights, and joy flights to name a few.
Queenstown is also known as a mountain biking hotspot. You can bike Queenstown with local specialists Outside Sports. Leisurely lakeside cruising, epic cross country or adrenaline pumping downhill; no matter what your adventure Outside Sports has the right bike, equipment and friendly advice to get you going. Rentals, workshop and retail.
You can check out their range of products by clicking on the following link:
More Queenstown Activities
And Queenstown has so much more to offer. Click on the following link to search the full range of thrilling Queenstown activities and Queenstown attractions.
If adrenalin charged adventure is not your thing, no need to worry. Queenstown also offers plenty of options for those of us that just want a relaxing holiday.
Here are some of the best relaxing Queenstown activities:
The historic steamship, TSS Earnslaw is a Queenstown icon, and is apparently the only remaining passenger carrying coal-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere.
Named after Mt Earnslaw, a 2889 metre peak at the head of Lake Wakatipu, the TSS Earnslaw made her maiden journey on Lake Wakatipu on 24th February 1912. For many years she carried sheep, cattle and passengers to various high country stations around Lake Wakatipu.
In 1984 she received a huge makeover where her decks were glassed in. In 2008 she appeared briefly in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls" where she masqueraded as an Amazon River boat.
Today she takes passengers on a variety of scenic cruises on beautiful Lake Wakatipu, providing one of the most relaxing ways to pass a few hours in Queenstown.
On our most recent visit we took the basic cruise and it was absolutely fantastic.
It was hard to stay seated, and we kept rushing outside to take pictures. But eventually we sat long enough to sample a delicious hot blueberry muffin and coffee from the on board cafe.
The cruise up to Walter Peak station was serene, and seeing Queenstown and the Remarkables mountains from the lake gives a whole different perspective.
we were on board we also walked through the engine room, where we
watched the staff shoveling coal into the huge burners that feed the
From the walkway you are close enough to see the engines working!
There is also a small on board museum detailing the history of the TSS Earnslaw.
And to further add to the serenity of the cruise, there is even a piano player onboard!
As mentioned, we only took the basic cruise to Walter Peak station and back.
But if you have time, you can also "add on" lunch or dinner at Walter Peak high country farm, and you can even take a farm tour if you like.
If you are in Queenstown a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw is a "must do".
You can view tour details, read reviews, and book your tour at the following links:
TSS Earnslaw 90 minute cruise only
TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak farm
TSS Earnslaw cruise and BBQ lunch at Walter Peak farm
TSS Earnslaw cruise and farm tour at Walter Peak farm
As mentioned earlier, the Skyline Gondola takes passengers 450 metres up to Bob's Peak, high above Queenstown.
Whilst the luge offers something for the thrill seekers, there is so much else up there to satisfy those of us that just want to chill out.
The trip up and back is truly memorable, and you will marvel at how steep the ascent and descent are. At the top, the views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu will simply take your breath away.
The well stocked gift shop and cafe are not to be missed. Take the time to have a coffee and take in the views.
But if you have the time, we recommend booking in for lunch or dinner at the restaurant.
They have various sitting times, and even do Christmas and New Year's Eve sittings! Now that would be something to experience!
With views like these, there cannot be too many better restaurant locations, anywhere in the world.
Your ticket price includes your chosen meal, and your return gondola ride.
When in Queenstown we always make a point of taking the gondola trip. A highly recommended Queenstown activity.
So don't delay.
You can check out the pricing and read some great reviews by clicking on the button below:
Ok, I declare up front, that Milford Sound is not in Queenstown. However, Queenstown is the major departure point for tours to Milford Sound. Access to Milford Sound from Queenstown is available by air (weather permitting) and road, with most visitors choosing to go by coach. The 295 kilometre trip from Queenstown takes about 4 hours each way, which makes for a big day, so better to let someone else do the driving, and take an organised coach tour. Another option is to stay in the lovely lake side village of Te Anau, 121 kilometres from Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is the number one tourist attraction in New Zealand, and with good reason. Over 500,000 people visit Milford Sound each year, and according to Wikipedia, it has been voted as the number 1 tourist destination in the world. The famous British author, Rudyard Kipling referred to Milford Sound as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Milford Sound is a fiord, located on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, in Fiordland National Park New Zealand . It extends 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea. This spectacular area is home to towering snow capped peaks that rise up to 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) from the deep dark waters of the sound. Massive water falls plummet from the sheer walls of the sound, and run constantly due to the heavy rainfall received in the area.
The journey into Milford Sound is an experience in itself, as you pass over raging creeks, through massive gorges and between snow covered mountains.
The Homer Tunnel, which passes through the Main Divide at the Homer Saddle, was opened in 1954, and allows road access to Milford Sound from Queenstown and Te Anau. The tunnel is 1.2 kilometres long, and opens into a rain forest covered canyon, reminiscent of something from Jurassic Park.
The sound can be viewed by air or by boat. As mentioned, flights are very dependant on weather conditions, which can change dramatically at short notice. Combined coach/boat tours are the preferred option, and provide great commentary on Milford Sound and surrounds. The boat trip usually takes 1 to 2 hours, and provides the perfect platform to take in the sheer size and majesty of your surrounds. And don't be put off by the weather. It rains regularly in the sounds, but in our opinion that adds to the character of Milford Sound. Many a great photo has been taken of Mitre Peak disappearing into the clouds. And rain means that the waterfalls are running at capacity.
If you see one thing in New Zealand, make sure that its Milford Sound. A trip to Milford Sound is the very best of all Queenstown activities.
To view information on a full range of Milford Sound tours click on the link.
Or if you are interested in the full day coach tour from Queenstown, you can learn more, read reviews, and make bookings by clicking on the button below:
The Historic Cardrona Hotel
The historic Cardrona Hotel, established in 1863, is one of New Zealand's oldest hotels. Located around 40 minutes drive from
Queenstown, and about 20 minutes drive from the beautiful lake side town of Wanaka, the Cardrona Hotel is a wonderful place to have a meal and a local wine or beer (or both!). We can vouch for the quality of the meals, and the outdoor grassed eating area is a great place to sit and pass an hour or two. It also allows space for children to have a bit of a run.
Roaring open fires keep you warm on cooler days. You can also stay overnight at the hotel. The trip to the Cardrona Hotel (and Wanaka) takes you over the Crown Range (the highest main road in New Zealand). The road is now fully sealed and provides stunning views from several dedicated vantage points. The following photo was taken in October (not much snow left) from the Crown Range looking back towards Queenstown.
We recently found out about a new way to see the pub - on horse back!
This three and a half hour tour takes you into the Cardrona Valley, and around half way through, stops off at the Cardrona Hotel for a refreshing ale.
Sounds good to us.
To learn more just click on the button below:
Yes, I know that this page is all about Queenstown activities, but Wanaka is so close to Queenstown (about 1 hours drive) and is such a beautiful place, that you really must pay a visit.
Wanaka is a stunning lake side town, set on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
The trip over the Crown Range from Queenstown takes about 1 hour.
Less rushed than Queenstown, Wanaka has a great feel to it. The main business area is located across the road from the lake, and has numerous cafes and restaurants.
One of Wanaka's great attractions is a place called Puzzling World.
Puzzling World is fun for all ages, and contains a maze, puzzles and optical illusions that will leave you scratching your head.
It's a great place to pass a few hours and will entertain old and young alike.
Your entry fee covers all activities and it's really good value.
Check it out here:
Wanaka is home to two major ski fields, Cardrona and Treble Cone, and is a great place to visit in the colder months.
The snow covered alps and stunning lake provide wonderful photo opportunities.
Every two years Wanaka comes alive for three days over Easter, when over 80,000 people flock to the town for the airshow, Warbirds Over Wanaka.
Running since 1988, the airshow features a range of demonstrations and displays, and a wide range of aircraft.
Wanaka also has a great golf course (with awesome views over the town and lake), and a lots more to do like scenic flights, skydiving, 4wd tours, winery tours, and some great boutique shopping.
If you are in Queenstown, we can highly recommend the stunning drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka. It's well worth the effort.
To see a range of Wanaka tours just click on the button below:
Historic Arrowtown is located about 20 minutes drive from Queenstown.
Built on the banks of the Arrow River, Arrowtown today is a sleepy hamlet, with numerous historic buildings dating back to the gold rush days. At its peak, Arrowtown was home to 7,000 people.
Today the population is around 2,500, and Arrowtown has evolved into a thriving arts and crafts centre, home to various stores selling jewellery, clothing, art work and other bits and pieces.
Arrowtown also has several restaurants and cafes, and a pub serving good quality food and a selection of local wines.
A trip to Arrowtown is a great way to pass a few hours. One of the most relaxing of Queenstown activities.
Visit a Winery
The Queenstown region is home to various wineries, many within 30 minutes of town.
Tours are freely available which take you to several wineries, or of course you can always choose your own wineries and visit them at your leisure.
With a wide range of tours, including bike tours, fully escorted tours, 4 wheel drive tours, and even helicopter tours, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets.
You can read about our full range of tours, check reviews, and make bookings by clicking on the button below:
Queenstown Restaurants and Pubs
There are over 100 restaurants, pubs and cafes in Queenstown, meaning great choice for you, no matter what your taste.
Everything from 5 star cuisine to quick take away food is available.
There are various restaurants and pubs located close to the lake front, and dining whilst looking over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables is one of the most relaxing of all Queenstown activities.
Have A Game Of Golf
One of the most popular Queenstown activities is golf. And with such a wide choice of courses, it's no wonder.
Queenstown is a golfer's paradise.
With four championship courses within easy reach, you are sure to find a course to suit.
Queenstown Golf Club
Queenstown Golf Club located at Kelvin Heights, is an 18 hole par 72 layout measuring 6103 metres from the back tees. Built around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the layout is varied and challenging. And the views are stunning.
Visitors are welcome 7 days a week. Bookings are recommended, and you can hire whatever equipment you need from the pro shop.
Queenstown Golf Club also have a 9 hole course and driving range at Frankton (near Queenstown Airport).
Millbrook Resort , located near Arrowtown (about 20 minutes drive from Queenstown) boasts a 27 hole championship layout, offering golfers the choice of playing three different 18 hole combinations. This rolling, testing course is set against a backdrop of beautiful mountain scenery.
Stay and Play packages are available, and bookings are recommended. A full range of equipment is available for hire.
Located about 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, Jack's Point is Queenstown's newest course. Set against the 2,300 metre high peaks of the Remarkables, and bordering Lake Wakatipu, it's difficult to concentrate on your game at Jack's Point.
This par 72 championship course measures 6338 metres from the championship tees and offers a varied and challenging test for golfers of all levels.
And the views!!
A full range of equipment is available for hire and bookings are recommended.
Or if you like, you can book through us. These great packages include hotel transfers, green fees, cart hire and club hire.
To read more about this all inclusive Jack's Point option, or to make a booking, just click on the button below (you can also check availability and make bookings for Queenstown Golf Club):
Arrowtown Golf Club
This 18 hole layout offers wonderful views from every hole. Measuring 5409 metres in length, the course has something for players of all skill levels.
A full range of equipment is available for hire, and bookings are recommended.
If you are looking for some low cost Queenstown activities, here are a few to consider:
Located on the pier in downtown Queenstown, the underwater observatory takes you a few metres below the surface of Lake Wakatipu. There you will see huge trout, eels, and diving ducks. You can even pay a couple of dollars for some food which you shoot into the water at the press of a button. Good fun for all the family. At the time of writing, entry was $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Located lakeside about 100 metres from the town centre, Queenstown gardens were opened to the public in 1866. Containing a Frisbee Golf course, walking trails, streams, an ice hockey rink, skateboard park, and a selection of flora, the Gardens are a perfect place to spend an hour or two and let the kids unwind.
The Reading Cinemas, located in The Mall, are a good way to pass a few hours, particularly if the weather turns nasty. New release movies feature, and ticket prices are reasonable.
Take a Drive
The scenery around Queenstown is spectacular, and there are several wonderful drives that take in the best views available in the area.
Queenstown to Glenorchy takes 30-40 minutes and follows Lake Wakatipu all the way. There are numerous spots to stop and admire the view. The drive to Kingston (along the main road to Dunedin) also follows the lake, but in the opposite direction to Glenorchy. One of my favourites is the drive up the Crown Range. The Crown Range road is now sealed all the way, and is the highest main road in New Zealand. There are several lookouts that enable great shots looking back to Queenstown.
Not far from Glenorchy is the start of the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks. If hiking is your thing, then you won't be disappointed.
There are also many other walks around the Queenstown area, with varying levels of difficulty.
You can find out about them through the Department of Conservation.
To view a full range of relaxing Queenstown activities and Queenstown attractions click on the link.
We hope that our Queenstown activities page has been helpful.
We welcome any feedback that you have about our Queenstown activities/Queenstown Attractions page.
Are you wondering what the weather will be like for your Queenstown
activities? Queenstown has four very different seasons. Click on the
following link for information on
Queenstown location and State Highways map