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7 Days in Queenstown - an insider's guide

Thinking of 7 days in Queenstown? Congratulations, you've made a wonderful choice.

Queenstown from Bob's Peak. Image courtesy Peter Luo and unsplash

Our customers often ask us if 7 days in Queenstown is long enough.

As holiday destinations go, Queenstown is right up there with some of the best places on planet Earth.

There's an almost endless variety of things to do and attractions to see.

Known as the "Adventure Capital", thrill seekers flock to the region to bungy, paraglide, raft, ski (in our winter season), jetboat, and a range of other exciting adventures.

But it's also a fantastic place to just chill, and take in the jaw-dropping scenery. Lakeside walks, cruises on Lake Wakatipu, local markets, a gondola ride, and strolling through the Queenstown Gardens are just a few of the more relaxing activities on offer here.

Food lovers adore the region and Queenstown has over 100 pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.

And close to town there's a flourishing wine industry with the region attracting international acclaim for some wonderful Pinot Noir. With dozens of wineries within twenty minutes of town, winery tours are plentiful and local cellar doors welcome visitors with open arms.

Queenstown is also the perfect base from which to explore Fiordland National Park, a Unesco World Heritage area.

We know that you will love Queenstown and the surrounding Southern Lakes region just as much as we do, and we hope that our suggestions will help you to choose Queenstown as your next holiday destination.

Your Itinerary - just click on the links below to move around the page

We've put together an itinerary for you based on our own experiences. Of course you can do as much or as little as you like.

Mix and match the options that we've suggested to best fit what suits you.

But we hope that our suggestions help you enjoy all that this beautiful location has to offer.

And of course if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask us.

* Getting here by air and road

* Important tips on where to stay

* Day 1 - see the sights from way up high

* Day 2 - gorgeous Glenorchy

* Day 3 - relax, relax

* Day 4 - wow, Fiordland

* Day 5 - is Wanaka better than Queenstown?

* Day 6 - "mild" or "wild"?

* Day 7 - the charm of historic Arrowtown

All the links you need to book this itinerary

Getting to Queenstown

Queenstown is located in the central southern part of New Zealand's beautiful South Island.

It's accessible by car and by air.

Arriving by air

Queenstown airport has direct flights from several Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast.

If you are coming to New Zealand from another overseas location, your flight will usually land at Auckland (our major international airport, located on the North Island).

Both Wellington (on the North Island) and Christchurch (on the South Island) have a limited international schedule. Both receive flights from several Australian east coast destinations. At the time of writing Christchurch also received flights from Japan, Singapore and Fiji, and Wellington received flights from Fiji.

Please check current schedules as they can change without notice.

If you are landing at any of these airports you will need to catch a connecting domestic flight to Queenstown.

Domestic flight times

Auckland to Queenstown direct: 2 hours

Wellington to Queenstown direct: 1.5 hours

Christchurch to Queenstown direct: 1.25 hours

Planes on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport. Image courtesy Queenstown Airport

Arriving by car

If you fly to Christchurch, the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown takes around 6 hours. It's a spectacular drive, passing the towering Southern Alps and some of the most stunning turquoise lakes you will ever see. We often decide to break the trip with an overnight stop in either Lake Tekapo or Aoraki/Mt. Cook village.

Unless you plan to tour the North Island before heading to Queenstown, it's not really practical to drive from the North Island to Queenstown.

The two islands are separated by Cook Strait, and the three and a half hour crossing is serviced by the Interislander ferry.

After crossing Cook Strait, the ferry snakes its way through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. It's widely regarded as one of the World's best ferry journeys.

Please note: Some car rental companies will not allow you to take your rental car onto the ferry, so you will need to check with them before you book your car. You may need to drop your car off at the Wellington terminal (on the North Island) then hire another car when you reach Picton (on the South Island).

Map Auckland to Queenstown

Approximate travel times (car and ferry) are:

Auckland to Wellington ferry (North Island): 7.5 hours driving time

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton 3.5 hours cruising time

Picton ferry terminal to Christchurch (South Island): 4.5 hours driving time

Christchurch to Queenstown (South Island): 6 hours driving time

Need to hire a vehicle?

If you need a rental car we have a huge range at market leading rates. You can search models and availability using the search box below.

Where to stay

Queenstown is a very hilly town (which provides some amazing views), and parking in the main business area is often difficult to find, and is mostly pay for use.

So, we always recommend staying within a short flat walk to the town centre. The last thing you want after a night out is a long uphill walk back to your accommodation. We have, and it's not fun.

Our preference for a seven night stay is a self contained apartment. This gives you two benefits. Firstly, your own kitchen, so that you don't have to eat out for every meal. And secondly, a washer and dryer. There's nothing worse than trying to wash your clothes in a basin then hanging them over a chair to dry.

And if your budget allows, always book a room with a lake view and a balcony.

There are lots of apartments out on the Frankton Road (the road between the town and the airport), and some of these are within walking distance of town, but you need to research your options. The Fernhill area (in the opposite direction) sits on top of a steep hill, so unless your accommodation has a shuttle (or you catch the bus, a cab or Uber), getting to and from town can be problematic. Likewise, anything at Frankton or Remarkables Park (both near the airport) will mean a fifteen or twenty minute drive into town.

Here are our preferred choices. All of these are no more than five minutes walk from the town centre.

For apartments, we recommend:

Pepper's Beacon

The Waterfont

Lakeside Apartments

The Glebe Apartments

For hotel rooms, we recommend:

Novotel Lakeside

Rydges Lakeland Resort

For hostels, we recommend

Haka Lodge

Adventure Queenstown Hostel

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A special tip: Queenstown is one of New Zealand's most popular destinations. So accommodation can book out months in advance, particularly for the peak periods. When you look at dates for your flights, also check to see what accommodation is available for your chosen dates. Prices will increase as you get closer to your holiday date, so we've found that booking well in advance saves money. But, always remember to choose a flexible rate just in case you need to cancel for any reason. Your travel insurance may also cover cancellations but please read the fine print for your policy before you book.

Peppers Beacon Queenstown 2 Bedroom Lakeview Apartment
Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown exterior

So here are our suggestions for your fabulous 7 days in Queenstown

We'll assume that you have 7 full free days in Queenstown. Here's our suggestions for some great things to do in Queenstown.

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 1 - see the sights from way up high

There's no better introduction to Queenstown than a trip to Bob's Peak on the Skyline Gondola.

Access is from 53 Brecon Street, a short (but uphill) 5 minute walk from the town centre.

The Skyline Complex houses a range of attractions and activities, like the famous luge (we are addicted), the Stratosfare Restaurant (book a window table for dinner), a cafe, gift shop, mountain biking, the Ben Lomond Guided Walk, and stargazing.

But the best thing about it are the views. Perched some 450 metres above Queenstown, the views over Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and the region are almost indescribable. We've spent hours up there over the years just relaxing with a coffee, or having lunch or dinner, struggling to comprehend the beauty of the vista below. Looking down on Queenstown as daylight fades and the town lights up, is something we will never forget.

It's easy to spend four or five hours up there. Highly recommended.

Before/after your Skyline visit, take the time to wander around the town centre and explore the shops, or stop at one of the many pubs or restaurants for a meal.

For great pub food, we recommend Pog Mahone's or Pub on Wharf. Winnie's have fantastic wood fired pizza, or for something more upmarket, try Botswanna Butchery.

Queenstown Gondola Courtesy Skyline Queenstown
Queenstown Luge Courtesy Skyline Queenstown
Pog Mahone's Hot Rock steak (with a view)

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 2 - Glenorchy

Today take a scenic drive to the small lakeside village of Glenorchy (around 45 minutes drive).

Glenorchy sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, and the drive from Queenstown is stunning. There's several spots along the way to pull over and take pictures, and the vista of the lake and towering mountains is one to savour, particularly in the cooler months when snow covers the peaks.

The region was used in Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies and organised tours are available.

The thrilling Dart River Jetboat Ride and Wilderness tour takes you into some of the most pristine wilderness in the country and is well worth a trip.

In the village, Mrs Woolly's General Store is a must. Delicious fresh food with a local influence and a great gift shop featuring New Zealand made products are features. They also run seasonal cooking classes. Their pies are highly rated.

Glenorchy also serves as a base for some of the region's best walks, including the Routeburn Track, one of our "Great Walks". The Department of Conservation has lots of information on walks in the region. The one hour walk around the marshes and boardwalks of Glenorchy Lagoon is well worth a try.

Take a stroll down to the wharf for some memorable pictures (including the famous red shed).

Have a game of golf at the picturesque Glenorchy Golf Club (with some of the cheapest green fees you will find).

Viator Glenorchy Dart River Jetboat Ride and Wilderness Safari
Glenorchy Wharf and red shed
Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway Image Courtesy
Glenorchy Mrs Woolleys General Store - pic courtesy

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 3 - time to relax

Today's a day for relaxing downtown.

After deciding on breakfast at home or downtown, take a leisurely walk through the Queenstown Gardens. Established over 150 years ago, the Gardens have a range of exotic plant species and some wonderful lake and mountain views. There's also an ice rink, disc golf, a kid's playground, and a BMX track.

On the way back to the town centre, stop off at the Queenstown Underwater Observatory, on the lakefront. The Time Traveler presentation gives a great background on the geological history of the area, and is followed by an underwater viewing and feeding of the huge trout and eels that inhabit the lake.

A great way to explore the lakefront is on a guided Segway tour. These are lots of fun and the guides are full of local knowledge.

Then, grab some takeaway food from one of the many vendors and head to the unique Perky's Floating Bar.

Described as the only bar of it's type in New Zealand, you bring your own food onboard, then buy your drinks from them. Then just sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery.

For a perfect end to the day, consider a trip on Lake Wakatipu on the historic steamer, the TSS Earnslaw. You can choose from just a lake cruise, to a selection of packages that include a yummy meal at Walter Peak Station, a working sheep station at the head of Lake Wakatipu. The views once you are out on the lake are just stunning. Onboard, there's a cafe, a small museum, and a viewing deck where you can watch the engines being stoked with coal. Highly recommended.

Viator TSS Earnslaw And BBQ Buffet Lunch
Queenstown Underwater Observatory Courtesy Underwater Observatory 500px Wide
Queenstown Perkys Floating Bar Image Courtesy Perkys
Viator Queenstown Guided Segway Tour

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 4 - wow. Fiordland awaits

Today you head to the Unesco World Heritage listed Fiordland National Park, for a visit to either Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound.

By road, it's quite a journey from Queenstown (around 4 hours each way to Milford Sound) and about 2 hours each way to Manapouri (the departure point for Doubtful Sound). For this reason, we highly recommend taking a guided coach tour from Queenstown. Expert commentary along the way, several stops to take in the scenery, and most importantly, the chance to put your feet up and let somebody else worry about the driving.

You can also take a scenic flight to Fiordland.

Fiordland is perhaps New Zealand's most popular attraction, and when you visit you will understand why.

The two prime attractions are Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. We are often asked which is better and they both have their own special features. For more information, check out our dedicated Fiordland National Park page here.

Renowned English author Rudyard Kipling (of Jungle Book fame) proudly announced Milford Sound as "The eighth Wonder of the World", and visitors leave Milford and Doubtful Sounds mesmerised by the natural beauty on offer.

Both offer pristine wilderness, towering peaks that disappear into the clouds, thundering waterfalls, and an array of unique New Zealand wildlife.

We know you will love whichever Sound you choose to visit.

Insider Tips

* If you want to visit both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, base yourself in the village of Te Anau for a couple of days. Te Anau is only 20 kilometres from Manapouri, the departure point for Doubtful Sound tours, and is around one and a half hours drive from Milford Sound.

* if visiting Milford Sound, tours with Southern Discoveries can include a visit to the Milford Sound Observatory. Descend below the surface to see corals and a variety of unique marine life.

* at the time of writing, free parking is available at Deepwater Basin, around 20 minutes walk from the Milford Sound visitor centre. Paid parking near the centre costs around $10 per hour, and is paid by credit/debit card through the onsite pay machines.

Viator Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise From Queenstown
Milford Sound Day Tour and Cruise from Queenstown
Milford Discovery Centre And Underwater Observatory Internal
Milford Sound Tour Boat Tourism Holdings
The Homer Tunnel. Image courtesy Great South

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 5 - over the "hill" to beautiful Wanaka

Wanaka is around 70 kilometres from Queenstown, via the Crown Range, one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand.

Like Queenstown, Wanaka sits on the shores of a stunning lake (Lake Wanaka), bordered by towering mountains.

Perhaps a little less rushed than Queenstown, Wanaka is a charming town, with lots to see and do.

In the cooler months (June to Sept/October), skiers and snowboarders flock to the nearby Cardrona and Treble Cone fields.

And in the warmer months, visitors are drawn by the region's wonderful walks, fishing, biking, and several major attractions.

Here's a few ideas:

* on the way to, or from Wanaka, stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel for breakfast or lunch.

* visit Puzzling World. Fun for all ages, it's an interactive collection of puzzles, mazes, illusions, and lots more. Well worth a visit.

* the National Transport and Toy Museum houses a huge collection of memorabilia including lots of those favourite toys from our childhood, and displays of many important pieces of New Zealand's transport history.

* walk out onto the small jetty opposite the town centre, and we can almost guarantee that you will see huge trout swimming below.

* have a game of golf at the picturesque Wanaka course.

* try your climbing skills at the Basecamp Wanaka Climbing Centre.

* see if you can hit the bullseye at the Crossfire archery centre.

* explore on a bike or e-bike

* experience some of New Zealand's best scenery on foot or by bike. You can download the Department of Conservation brochure here.

* remember your time here with some local art from one of our galleries or gift shops.

More information

You can search a range of Wanaka tours and activities here.

Wanaka Tree in lake image courtesy Laura Smetsers and Unsplash
Wanaka Puzzling World Courtesy Puzzling World
Wanaka Swing Bridge Rob Roy Glacier Track Mt Aspiring Nat Park By WanakaNZ 500px Wide
The Ames Illusion Room at Wanaka's Puzzling World. Image courtesy Puzzling World
National Transport and Toy Museum Wanaka
Cardrona Hotel Image courtesy Kate Branch and Unsplash

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 6 - "mild" or "wild"?

Is today going to be "mild" or "wild"?

Or maybe a little of both?

Here's a few suggestions:


* if you enjoyed the sights from the Skyline Gondola on Day 1, why not head back up again.

* take a cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the historic steamer the TSS Earnslaw. There's a variety of cruises, from scenic cruises, to packages that can include either lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner at Walter Peak farm, a working sheep farm at the top of Lake Wakatipu. The meals are sensational. This is an iconic "must do" Queenstown experience, and whatever option you choose, you won't be disappointed.

* head out to the Queenstown Alpine Aqualand for a swim. There's several pools and waterslides.

* if bungy jumping is not your thing (we loved it), drive out to the original bungy site at the historic Kawarau Bridge (around 20 minutes drive), and watch others jump! It's great fun to see the reaction of people as they near the launch platform. And who knows, you may even decide to try it yourself.

* try a meal at one of the many pubs, cafes and restaurants scattered along the lakefront. Stunning views and a great variety of food, with lots of local specialties.

* head out to the wineries. There are heaps of tours available. You can choose hop on, hop off bus tours, fully guided tours, bike tours, and e-bike tours. For maximum enjoyment we suggest you don't drive yourself. You can see a selection of tours here.

* if you come here from a warm climate, and want to experience something "chilly", this might be for you. Head to the Minus 5 Ice Bar for a drink in sub zero temperatures! Don't worry, they supply coats and gloves.

* have a game of disc golf in the Queenstown Gardens.

* if you are here on a weekend, explore the Queenstown Markets. Lots of local arts, crafts, food and entertainment.

* take in the scenery on one of Queenstown's short walks. The best place to find out more is on the Lakes District Council website here.

* explore the shoreline on a guided Segway tour. You can choose a one or two hour tour, with excellent local commentary.

* the region is a biker's paradise, with trails suitable for all fitness levels. It's also home to four of New Zealand's Great Rides. For all the inside information on what's available, we've given you access to the official Central Otago Cycle Trails Seller's guide. You can open the pdf file here.

* one of Queenstown's most popular take-away spots is Fergburger. Known worldwide for it's yummy burgers, you owe it to yourself to visit this icon and experience what could be one of the best burgers you will ever taste. Just be aware that the queues can be lengthy.

* have a game of golf. Queenstown is a golfer's paradise with several world class courses located within a short drive. There's more information on our "Queenstown Golf" page.

* see our amazing flightless bird, the Kiwi at the Kiwi Park.

The historic steamer TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables in the background - image Courtesy Kirsten Frosh And Unsplash
Visit the Queenstown Kiwi Park and see our amazing native bird
Queenstown TSS Earnslaw at dock Nov 2022
The original AJ Hackett Bungy site at the historic Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown
Queenstown Creative Arts And Crafts Market Image Courtesy Of Them
Looking from Pepper's Beacon across Lake Wakatipu towards the Remarkables
Jacks Point Hero Shot


They don't call Queenstown the "Adventure Capital" for nothing. How many "wild" things can you do in your 7 days in Queenstown?

Adrenalin seekers are attracted by a huge variety of thrilling activities. Here's our selection of some of the best:

* bungy, swing or catapult off one of AJ Hackett's three sites around Queenstown. We know from personal experience that this is the ultimate adrenalin rush. You can learn about the various options on the AJ Hackett site here.

* thunder through narrow gorges and rapids, on a jetboat ride on the local rivers. The two most popular are the Kawarau Jet and the Shotover Jet.

* ever wanted to try whitewater rafting? This is the place.

* not our thing, but activities like hang gliding and skydiving offer the best possible views of the region.

* 4WD back country tours, heli flights, canyoning, and snowmobiling are just a few of the more adventurous activities available here.

More information

There's lots more about Queenstown's adrenalin charged activities on our dedicated page here.

Queenstown Ledge Bungy Image courtesy AJ Hackett
Queenstown Realnz Whitewater Rafting Shotover River Image Courtesy
Viator Shotover Jet Queenstown

7 Days in Queenstown - Day 7 - historic Arrowtown

Around 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown is a quaint spot steeped in local history.

Gold was discovered here in the mid 1800's and the village thrived as settlers flocked to the region looking to make their fortune.

These days, Arrowtown is a peaceful village, complete with many original buildings, a wonderful museum, and lots of cafe's, gift shops and restaurants.

There are lots of scenic walks in and around the village, and you can even hire a pan from the Lakes District Museum, and try your hand at gold panning in the river. Who knows, you may just get lucky.

If you enjoy golf, the Arrowtown course is a wonderful, quirky layout that will test golfers of all levels. Within a five minute drive are the exclusive Hill's course, and the Millbrook Resort course, making Arrowtown a great base for a golfing holiday.

You can learn more about beautiful Arrowtown on our dedicated page here.

Arrowtown Buckingham Green and Bendix Stables Arrowtown Promotion And Business Association
Scenic Arrowtown. Image courtesy Casey Horner and Unsplash
Arrowtown Golf Club - image courtesy New Zealand Golf Digest

Just three easy steps to book everything for your 7 Days in Queenstown adventure

Still unsure what to book and how to do it? Fear not.

Here's a step by step guide showing a selection of links that you can use to book your perfect 7 days in Queenstown.

Step 1 - Choose your car - just use the search box below to access all the main suppliers like Budget, Avis, Thrifty and more. Then select your dates and the type of vehicle that you want.

car icon 2

Step 2 - Choose your perfect accommodation - here are our choices for a range of accommodation types. Importantly, they are all located in the town centre close to the shops, restaurants and bars.

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Our recommended motel - The Novotel Lakeside

Offering a selection of room types, some with lake views. Highly rated, and a perfect setting close to all the action.

Novotel Lakeside Queenstown

Our recommended apartments - The Waterfront.

Beautiful apartments, lakefront, and a minutes walk to everything. Sit on your balcony and watch the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu.

Waterfront Apartments Queenstown

Our recommended hostel - Haka Lodge.

Highly rated with a good selection of room types, and only a few minutes walk to the attractions of downtown Queenstown.

Haka Lodge Queenstown

Step 3 - Select your "must do" activities - here's our tips for the best activities for each day. We've chosen some of the "must do" activities, showcasing the very best of Queenstown and the surrounding region.

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Day 1 - head to Bob's Peak on the Skyline Gondola

Catch the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peal for jaw dropping views and a range of activities.

Queenstown Skyline Luge Courtesy Skyline Queenstown 500px Wide

Day 2 - Glenorchy Dart River Jetboat tour

Immerse your self in true Kiwi wilderness on the Dart River Jetboat and Wilderness tour.

Viator Glenorchy Dart River Jetboat Ride and Wilderness Safari

Day 3 - relax on the historic TSS Earnslaw

Choose from a range of cruises on the historic TSS Earnslaw. Have a meal at Walter Peak or just take a leisurely cruise.

The historic steamer TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables in the background - image Courtesy Kirsten Frosh And Unsplash

Day 4 - tour to stunning World Heritage Fiordland

A "must do". Your guided coach tour from Queenstown will be a trip to cherish.

Viator Milford Sound Coach Tour With Lunch From Queenstown

Day 5 - Wanaka and Puzzling World

Head over the Crown Range to Wanaka and experience the wonders of Puzzling World.

Wanaka Puzzling World Courtesy Puzzling World

Day 6 - Segway tour and Kiwi Park

Explore Queenstown up close on a Segway Tour then see our legendary flightless Kiwi.

Viator Queenstown Guided Segway Tour
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