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Local’s Guide to Queenstown + Best Things to Do

July 18, 2022 23 min read

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Local’s Guide to Queenstown + Best Things to Do

Locals Guide to Queenstown, New Zealand

Written for Auski by Pink Lemonade Social

One of those enchanted locations with all-season beauty is Queenstown, New Zealand. With Lake Wakatipu as your backdrop and towering, gorgeous mountains all around, you'll be spoiled for choice for sights and action-packed activities to get your heart pumping. The phrase "adventure capital of the world" has been used to describe Queenstown, and it is obvious why the moment you arrive. A variety of jet boats will be flying around the lake, and if you look up, you might see a paraglider descending from a mountain peak. Keep an eye up, you might see a daring person participating in the A J Hackett Ledge Bungy.

It makes no difference what season and when you visit Queenstown since the action never ends. For all of you winter snow junkies, Queenstown is surrounded by an abundance of ski resorts. Only an hour's drive separates Wanaka's Cardrona ski resort from Queenstown's The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. It is preferable to reserve your vacation between June and August early if you intend to ski or snowboard. The months of November through February are ideal for trekking, hiking and camping. Travel in April or May to view the magnificent autumn colour show and to savour the lovely bloom season, which lasts from April through November.

Arriving in Queenstown will be an experience you won't soon forget. You'll soon hear the announcement that the aircraft is descending while you are soaring above the Southern Alps. You won't be able to imagine where this plane is landing as it weaves between astonishing mountains and above eye-popping turquoise lakes. Then Queenstown emerges out of nowhere, sending your heart racing with anticipation as you prepare to touch down in one of the most stunning airports imaginable. You'll quickly leave the little airport after getting your bags and be on your way. When travelling to Queenstown, we highly advise renting a car, as it is a lot easier to get around and explore the area. This sleepy town, which is nestled adjacent to the Southern Alps, is brimming with fascinating activities, delicious food, and opulent moments. Beautiful scenery can be seen around every corner, and the inhabitants are welcoming in every café, bar and restaurant. Undoubtedly, there are a few experiences that are a must-do, such as going to Milford Sound, crossing the Crowne Range to Wanaka, and partaking in skydiving, bungee jumping, and jet boating. Whether you’re visiting for a few days, or a week, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to Queenstown helping you to prepare for a journey you won't forget!

Image: Instagram/lauraurasuria

Insider tip:

Book the Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools way ahead before you get there!

- Ryan @ Auski

Queenstown Weather & When To Visit

Summer in Queenstown (December to February)

Summer in Queenstown is all about long, lazy days by the lake, outdoor dining, and outdoor activities. There is little to no rain and temperatures vary from 25 to 32 degrees. Do not be deceived by these lower temperatures if you are accustomed to summertime in Australia; you still need to use sunscreen liberally since the New Zealand sun is very strong. In the height of summer, the sun will still be shining until 10 p.m., giving you plenty of time to unwind after a day of adventures. You can enjoy a lakeside barbeque while watching the kids splash around, enjoy on a superb local wine or craft beer from a local brewery or winery, or go for a walk and grab an ice-cream to watch the lake activities as the sun sets over the mountains.

Summer is a great time to go hiking around Queenstown. Your go-to location for all your trail needs is the DOC headquarters in central Queenstown. They provide all the information you could possibly need to organise your ideal hike, from multi-day excursions to a casual stroll with the kids. Like we previously mentioned, summer days are long, dry, and hot. It's always wonderful to go boating, and businesses like KJet will take you up and down the Shotover River while providing sights you'll never forget. Don't forget to ride the gondola to the skyline building, race your friends down the hill on a luge, explore the skyline building, and take your time admiring the idyllic scenery from the viewing deck.

Summer in Queenstown NZ

Autumn in Queenstown (March to May)

Autumn is no exception to Queenstown's ability to celebrate the arrival of a new season. The once-green leaves turn into stunning hues of red, yellow, and orange, and the entire landscape trades in its summery garb for a cosier and more intriguing one. Along with the clear days and chilly evenings, this time of year is known for its romantic displays of colour. The historic Arrowtown, which is home to the wildly popular Arrowtown autumn festival, is only 20 minutes from Queenstown. Hike while the weather is cold, the days are dry, and mother nature is putting on a wonderful show for you if you want to truly appreciate the terrain and capture those Instagram shots to make everyone at home envious of your experiences. The Sawpit Gully climb is a short-day hike from the centre of Arrowtown that will take you high above the township and reward you with breathtaking views. Choose from one of the fantastic restaurants in the region to round off your wonderful autumn getaway. Many of them have outstanding outdoor seating spaces with the extra luxury of heaters and blankets in case the weather does turn chilly.

Autumn in Queenstown

Winter in Queenstown (June to August)

Ski season is here. To appreciate the wintertime celebration Queenstown hosts, you should dress warmly. The community becomes a world-class ski resort, drawing tens of thousands of visitors, skiers, and seasonal workers. There are four ski mountains in the area, each with distinctive topography. Both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are easily reachable from the town centre and are incredible places to ski and snowboard. A bus provided by NZ Ski departs from the station building every 20 minutes, making the trip up the mountain hassle-free. Both mountains include a variety of terrain that appeals to both skiers and snowboarders. As you approach the base of both mountains, you are met with the most breathtaking views and some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Don't worry if you brought the little ones; NZ Ski provides a fantastic programme for youngsters called Skiwiland at Coronet Peak where they will pick up the basics and form relationships with other kids for the day, giving you time to explore the mountain. If you have any prior snow experience, Cardrona and Treble Cone are wonderful options around Queenstown. You cannot miss the town's renowned apres nightlife after a day spent carving the slopes. There are so many restaurants, bars, and places to tie up your dance shoes that it will be difficult to visit them all. The Queenstown Winter Festival, the best of the best, kicks off Queenstown's jam-packed winter event schedule, which is followed by the worldwide Winter Games NZ. Fear not when the snow season begins to wane. Your spring skiing, week-long festivities, a flurry of rainbows around town, and enjoyment for everyone are sure to be enhanced by Winter Pride!

Winter in Queenstown NZ

Spring in Queenstown (September to November)

The weather in the spring can be more erratic than in other seasons. The pacific island position of New Zealand has an impact on Queenstown's climate. If the weather looks a little iffy for the day, fear not—check out the below fantastic options on all the greatest things to do in Queenstown. In addition to being the windiest time of year, the snowmelt from the mountains can raise lake levels a little bit too much. On the other side, you'll probably witness the final few weeks of snowfall as well as fresh, clear, and pleasant days. On a warm spring day, nothing beats skiing or snowboarding.

Watch for events taking place all throughout town as Winter Pride begins in the spring. Coronet and The Remarkables are ideal for a mid-week mountain getaway because the mountains also become a lot quieter. Rain or shine, Lake Hayes is the ideal place to go for a stroll that is simple to navigate and open to everyone. The lake is also on the way to Arrowtown, so be sure to take a detour afterwards to visit it and enjoy some Patagonia hot chocolate or maybe try your hand at gold panning in the former Chinese Settlement. If you want to get out of the Queenstown bubble, take a leisurely drive up to the head of the lake and see Glenorchy, which is a paradise and the setting for some Lord of the Rings and Narnia scenes. The scenery itself should be plenty to keep your mind and camera occupied. There are many routes to select from that leave from and are close to Glenorchy, with the well-known Routeburn Track being one of the most well-liked. On the trails, there are DOC-maintained huts where you can spend the night for a fair price. As we've already said, Queenstown never sleeps; so no matter the time of day, the season, or the weather, there's always something to do here in the picturesque mountain town.

Day trips from Queenstown

Day Trips from Queenstown

Glenorchy Day Trip from Queenstown

For a breathtakingly beautiful day trip close to Queenstown, you cannot look past the small town of Glenorchy. It is about a 45-minute drive along Lake Wakitipu, and the route is full of stunning scenery and photo opportunities. Depending on how active you want to be, there are a few various ways to spend your day here, similar to Wanaka. Explore the town, even though it will only take you ten minutes to walk the entire length of the city, where there are plenty of charming cafes and boutique stores to discover. Visit the locations from The Lord of the Rings, such as Ithilien Camp, Lothlorien, and the Misty Mountains. We advise taking a guided tour because it can be challenging to locate these places on your own. The simple Glenorchy Boardwalk stroll traverses three miles (five kilometres) of boardwalk and showcases diverse birds and boundless views. It's ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels. Visit the Department of Conservation website if you're looking for longer hikes which are adbundant in the area. If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Glenorchy, then don’t stress.

Kayak and a jetboat on the Dart River which originates at Lake Wakatipu's head and flows deep into Mount Aspiring National Park, a designated World Heritage Site. On the Dart River, jetboat tours are conducted by Dart River Adventures. The jetboat experience combines thrilling wilderness jet boating with a guided tour that highlights Māori history, pioneering heritage, and the surrounding environment. Jetboat into the park, then kayak back out on simple-to-use inflatable funyaks, discovering stunning river chasms and peaceful side streams as you paddle downstream, for an even more immersive trip. If you want to feel a little closer to nature then follow in the pioneers' footsteps while riding horseback. Ride along the lovely Rees River, over undulating paddocks, and through beech tree groves as you leisurely explore the area around Glenorchy. While you travel in the footsteps of early farmers from the 1800s, knowledgeable guides will tell you tales of the region's fascinating history. A variety of equine excursions are offered by two local horse trekking companies, ranging from pony rides for your youngest explorer to overnight treks into the unspoilt countryside. Both seasoned riders and newcomers can have adventures. If you want to move at a faster speed, then the thrilling Paradise Ziplines course, which consists of eight ziplines that wind through beech forests, is located in a remote canyon halfway between Glenorchy and Paradise. Training, nature hikes, and thrilling ziplines are all included in the experience. Ride the Orc Chasm, a visitor favourite that soars into a canyon and across an alpine stream, offering views of the surrounding forest and the valley of Paradise.

Day Trip to Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound Day Trip from Queenstown

Milford Sound is a must-see day trip from Queenstown and one of New Zealand's most famous locations. Famous British author Rudyard Kipling named Milford Sounds as the eighth wonder of the world, and you must experience these majestic vistas for yourself to properly appreciate their magnificence. There are several ways to approach today's journey, including cruises and coaches: The most popular option requires you to get up early and board a coach bus for a four-hour trip with a few stops to Milford Sound. When you get to Milford Sound, you'll change to a boat and go down the sound before getting back on the coach to head home. Alternatively, you can drive there yourself. Although this choice gives you greater freedom, keep in mind that you'll be driving on winding, mountainous roads. In order to ensure that you don't miss it, you'll also need to plan your own trip and leave plenty of time. For a more lavish experience, and by far the quickest of the three possibilities, jump in a tiny plane and fly for an hour to Milford Sound, where you can change to a boat once more and cruise the sound before taking a flight back. Flying one way and taking a coach the other way are other choices. Your choice will be influenced by your budget and driving comfort, but if you're searching for a local suggestion, we've discovered that the coach, cruise, and fly option is the best. You can see Milford Sound from all sides if you take a flight on the way home as well!

Day trip to Arrowtown, New Zealand

Arrowtown Day Trip from Queenstown + spend the day wine tasting at Gibbston Valley

For a busy day of adventure and gorgeous scenery make your way to Arrowtown as soon as you wake up. You'll get a sense of time travel as soon as you see the town's historic main street, which is only 20 minutes from Queenstown. The historic gold mining town's building fronts have remained largely untouched and are now crammed with great boutique stores and eateries. Arrowtown is also a great location to break out your hiking shoes and complete one of the numerous walks in the area if you need to stretch your legs. Just remember to take layers and sunscreen. There is a walk here for everyone, from a gentle 50-minute stroll to an arduous six-hour hike.

This beautiful, former gold mining community is definitely worth a visit. You can take a taxi or the blue #2 Arthurs Point to Arrowtown bus to get there, or alternatively drive if you are hiring a car. In Arrowtown, there is something for everyone! You can stroll down Sawpit Gully or the Arrowtown Trail, discover the old Chinese village, or indulge in as much fine dining as you like. After you've had your fill of exploring, take a pit stop at Gibbston, which is ten minutes down the road. You will undoubtedly fall in love with the incredibly attractive "Valley of the Vines," which is home to a dozen distinct wineries, whether or not you enjoy wine. You should visit several vineyards to get the whole experience. Gibbston Valley is the region's oldest winery and a great place to start. Visit the wine cave, then stop by the cheese shop to enjoy some delectable Whitstone cheeses. If your stomach is growling, make your way to Kinross for a delicious lunch in its beautiful outdoor café, which serves wood-fired pizza and crisp salads. Despite being one of Gibbston's more expensive wineries (but definitely worth it!), Peregrine is a must-visit because of its striking tasting room and distinctive architecture.

Day Trip to Wanaka, New Zealand

Wanaka Day Trip from Queenstown

If you have been to any of the above locations, you likely believe that you have now seen the South Island's most magnificent scenery. Yet another charming and beautiful small hamlet that is home to residents and foreigners that enjoy adventures is located just over the Crowne Range. Driving up 3,677 feet (1121 metres) through a winding road, past picturesque sheep farms, and through Cardrona Valley is breathtaking in and of itself. Wanaka has so much to see and do that you could easily stay here for a few days. Roys Peak hike is a five to six-hour trip, which is regarded as one of the top day hikes in New Zealand, begins just outside of Wanaka and goes steadily up a well-maintained track to Roy's Peak. The breathtaking vistas here more than make up for the difficult hike. While being the most famous hike, this region has a wealth of short and day hikes for any ability.

Take a drive to Mount Aspiring National Park which is a must-do if you want to view untamed beauty and thundering waterfalls without having to climb for hours on end. The road is only 52 kilometres long, but it will take you close to two hours to complete it because you have to stop to let sheep cross the street and navigate shallow fords. If you want to hit the water, kayak or paddleboard on Lake Wanaka which are available for rent right on the water. The best way to experience Wanaka is to glide through the azure lake while looking at mountains.

For those looking for a little adventure in Wanaka, say no more. In Wanaka, New Zealand, you can attempt the highest waterfall cable climb in the world or one of the brand-new canyon and hike activities with Wildwire Wanaka. Wildwire's expeditions are led by knowledgeable guides and children as young as ten can safely join in. Even those who are most afraid of heights manage to surprise themselves and feel successful. Choose between a Waterfall Cable Climb (conquer the highest waterfall cable climb in the world), Heli-Hike and Heli-Canyon excursions and all adventurers have options with 3 levels to select from that are appropriate for beginners. Regardless of the adventure you select, your guide will be by your side as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Excellent canyoning can be found in Haast Pass and Wanaka. Deep Canyos provide guided tours that are appropriate for hikers of all expertise levels. Travel through the natural woodland and sparkling ponds. Abseil down waterfalls or dive down water-polished chutes. Explore a breathtaking world of water-sculpted rock and dazzling, roaring waterfalls by climbing, swimming, or floating through them. Stunning views of Mount Aspiring National Park may be had from each. Deep Canyon is a short 30-minute drive from Wanaka, where the Matukituki Valley is home to the magnificent Leaping Burn, Niger Stream, Big Nige, Mill Creek, and several amazing canyons. Want an adventure above the ground? Treble Cone offers the highest tandem paragliding in New Zealand by the team at Wanaka Paragliding; pure flying that is quiet and slick. Head to the skies before softly landing next to your car, whether you choose a leisurely descent or wingovers and spirals.

Paragliding Queenstown, NZ

Queenstown New Zealand Outdoor Activities

Ben Lomond

Put on your hiking boots and spend the entire day scaling Ben Lomond, the mountain that looms over the town, and you won't be charged a cent. Each route is clearly marked, easy to locate, and provides stunning views of the town below. This is one of the most breathtaking and free experiences you can have!

The Remarkables

There are numerous methods to get to The Remarkables. To get to the ski field, you can either drive the tar-paved road all the way up there, take a bus, take a helicopter to the highest points, or, if you're feeling very fit, go cycling. In the winter, the ski field is open from late June to early October. From the amazing magic carpet tunnels on the beginner slopes to the Burton freestyle area and the off-piste terrain sure to thrill the pro skiers and riders out there, the seven parks have ample action. The events continue throughout the summer. There is the enduringly popular Lake Alta hike, a leisurely 1.5-hour round-trip climb that starts near the ski field parking lot and leads to a gorgeous alpine lake. For the most daring, there are also a tonne of guided rock-climbing excursions available.

Coronet Peak

For those who want to jump right into the action, Coronet Ski Field, a wintertime favourite of Queenstown residents, offers instruction as well as ski lift access. Just outside of town, down the road from ancient Arrowtown, is the best place to go skiing for the day during the winter. In the summer, take a trip up to see the amazing views from the winding road and many vantage points.

Best Adventure Activities in Queenstown

Image: Instagram / darlan_magno

Are you considering visiting Queenstown and want to find out more about the incredible heart-pounding activities you can engage in there? Look no further because although you can experience adventure activities all over New Zealand, Queenstown can deliver all the heart-racing adventure you need.

Queenstown Bungy Jumps, Swings & Catapult

It would be crazy to visit this part of the world and not perform a leap. With three heart-stopping methods to do it that will raise the hairs on your chest and give you a swagger in your step, the hardest part is choosing whether to catapult, swing or bungy jump in Queenstown! This features the tallest Bungy in Australasia, one of the wildest Swings, and the largest human catapult in the entire globe! You can be sure that they will put your safety and enjoyment first, and you will have the best memories. Nevis is the place to be for all serious adventurers. This is for individuals who desire to advance to the highest level; The black run is notorious and the highest. This is a rush you must experience, complete with a 134-meter-long Bungy, one of the world's largest swings, and a human catapult that will launch it.

Desire to Bungy? You may leap, jump, and dive your way to the most wonderful feeling in the world at one of three amazing sites in in Queenstown. The Nevis Bungy features a 134-meter drop and 8.5-second freefall experienced; the highest NZ Bungy Free-Fall! In addition to being a "freestyle Bungy," the Ledge Bungy (a 47-metre drop) is also located high above Queenstown, which heightens the excitement.

Want a picturesque and possibly wet bungy? Bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge, where it all began. Try this renowned jump for yourself where you’ll drop 43 meter and optionally touch the water.

If jumping is not your thing, why not swing? On Swing Nevis, you are sent down and out on a 300-meter arc, making it one of the largest swings in the entire globe. If you believe that this will be simple, they eagerly await your scream. On Swing Ledge you have the chance to release yourself out into the open, far above Queenstown. It's windy. It takes guts. It's just amazing.

Lastly, you have the choice to take a ride on the Nevis Catapult, the largest human catapult in the world. Take flight as you are pushed 150 metres across the Nevis Valley, flying through the air at up to 3 Gs of force, 100 kph in 1.5 seconds before experiencing an exciting rebound that will give you an adrenaline rush unlike no other. This unique high-speed ride will have you yelling for more since it is quick and incredibly entertaining.

Pack a sweatshirt and thank us afterwards because you never know what's happening until you get up there. At the Nevis, you must also wear covered shoes; if you show up in sandals, they will not let you in.

Queenstown Shotover Jet

Another iconic experience in Queenstown is the Shotover jet, the World's Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride that rushes through the canyons. Since 1970, Shotover Jet has delighted over 3 million riders; now it's your turn. Hold on for the only exciting full 360° spins in Queenstown as you embark on a singular, magnificent adventure through steep, narrow gorges.

Skydive in Queenstown

Why not accomplish something noteworthy before returning home? As we've already mentioned, there are a plethora of options for thrilling activities, but skydiving is one you absolutely must experience. It takes someone brave to jump out of an aeroplane into the void at a height of 15,000 feet. As your mind, body, and soul struggle to overcome every innate desire to conserve themselves, prepare for sensory overload. Jump out the plane door while being connected by space-age materials to a skilled Jumpmaster, freefalling for up to 60 seconds at 200 kph (terminal velocity)! Tandem skydive with NZONE Skydive in Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand to experience some of the country's most breathtaking landscapes! NZONE Skydive, which launched NZ's first tandem skydive operation in 1990, is currently commemorating 30 years of skydiving. With over 300,000 tandem jumps to date, NZONE is the only tandem skydiving company to have received the Supreme Tourism Award.

Queenstown Rafting

How about jumping into an inflatable raft and sliding down some grade 5 rapids once you've flung yourself off every bridge, cliff, and canyon in Queenstown? Your raft will be loaded by the suited raft guide, who will also give you advice on how to handle the unexpected and expertly pilot you down the river and back to land. Not recommended for those who are hesitant, but at the top of the list for anyone who enjoys their adrenaline rush. Experience the wild mountain rivers of Queenstown by whitewater rafting, river boarding, or heli-rafting. One of the best ways to experience Queenstown's breathtaking alpine scenery and get your heart racing is through whitewater rafting. Upper Skippers Canyon was the site of the 1970s launch of the first commercial rafting operation in New Zealand, and since then Queenstown has developed into a mecca for whitewater rafting. From the tranquil stretches of the powerful Kawarau River to the savage grade five rapids on the Shotover River, two rivers offer a grade of rapids for everyone. Everyone enjoys Queenstown rafting, so get out there and get ready to get wet whether you're a novice or an experienced whitewater enthusiast!

Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools

After you’ve leapt, jumped and done every activity to get your heart racing, there is no better way to unwind than in Queenstown’s Onsen Hot Pools. Yes it’s not an adventure activity, but it should definitely be on your list of things to do! You should book a spot at the Onsen Hot Pools well in advance, even before you arrive in the city, because they are regularly sold out. You'll get a private indoor/outdoor cedar hot tub with a clear view of Shotover Canyon. You can also reserve champagne and other spa treatments for a full evening of pleasure. The wonderful cedar-lined hot baths have long been a favourite among visitors and locals in Queenstown. A distinctive Kiwi twist on a Japanese tradition, the pure water in the private use pools is heated to roughly 38.3 degrees using water from the neighbouring mountains. All guests are given towels, as well as a free beverage and snack to enjoy while taking a relaxing bath. These pool rooms allow you to switch between an indoor and an outdoor experience with the touch of a button. with retractable top and wooden side walls. Trust us, book this, and book this early!

Queenstown Helicopter Tours

For some of the best views in New Zealand or on Earth, take a helicopter tour over Queenstown. Although there are several helicopter flights available, The Remarkables and Cecil Peak, which provide the best views of Queenstown, are some of the best. This flight is great for passengers on a restricted budget or who just prefer a shorter flight. They will take you above The Remarkables to provide you with a wonderful view of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding area. The Milford Sound Helicopter makes three landings: on a beach, a glacier, and in Milford itself, making it the most popular helicopter trip departing from Queenstown. Observe those breathtaking landscapes and be the first to discover Mitre Peak from the air. This is a must-do experience! There is no "best" time to fly; it all depends on the weather. The best advice is to book early for your stay in Queenstown so you can keep an eye on the weather and pick the optimum day. If a flight is cancelled due to inclement weather, it will always be rescheduled.

Day Activities in Queenstown

Image: Instagram / darlan_magno

Queenstown Gondola

It's time to go explore all of your other accessible options in the area after spending some time with Mother Nature. The Skyline Gondola is a great and affordable attraction in Queenstown. The Tiki Trail can be used to reach the Gondola viewpoint which will take about an hour. At the top is the Luge track, a real Mario Kart race. For roughly $50, you can get a roundtrip ride on the Queenstown Gondola as well as tickets to a few luge runs. These games are so much fun, especially when you compete with friends for first place. Before you descend, be sure to snap that iconic picture of the town below.

Queenstown Wine Tours

If you consider yourself a wine enthusiast, you'll undoubtedly be familiar with Gibbston Valley (mentioned above) and its superb pinot noir. New Zealand is one of the most scenic wine regions and there are also some well-known vineyards in the world that are close to Queenstown and well worth a visit. The simplest way to do this is to take a wine tour! Altitude Tours offers the Wine Sampler Tour every day, departing from Queenstown at 10 am and returning about 3 pm. During your 5-hour excursion, you will visit four vineyards, including the well-known Gibbston Valley wine cave. On the other side, the Twilight Wine and Craft Beer Tour departs from Queenstown at 3:45 and arrives back at 7:15. It makes three stops at wineries where you can nibble on antipasto platters and try ten different wines or beers. Wine tours with hop-on, hop-off service are another option. The bus departs from The Station in the centre of Queenstown and travels to 17 various wineries and breweries. We suggest stepping off to continue your investigation of Akarua Wines and Kitchen by Artisan, Kinross Cellar Door & Bistro, and Gibbston Valley Winery.

TSS Earnslaw, Queenstown, New Zealand

Historic Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw

Travel on the TSS Earnslaw, New Zealand's most recognisable ship and a century-old coal-fired steamship affectionately known by locals as "Ernie." You'll get one of the best views of Queenstown during this 90-minute sail over Lake Wakatipu. Never miss the opportunity to peek into the engine room to see the enormous steam engines in action. Additionally, you could visit Walter Peak High Country Farm.

Kiwi Birdlife Park

If you wish to learn more about the native creatures, go to the Kiwi Birdlife Park near the heart of Queenstown. There are geckos, kiwis, kea, and tuatara to see in the five acres of native bush there. The passionate staff members will enthral you with tales and facts about the unique flora and fauna. Over 20 species of native New Zealand wildlife are kept and displayed, many of which are a part of state-run conservation programmes. Your admission fee contributes to conservation activities' funding.

Guide to Queenstown New Zealand

Queenstown Walks & Hikes

There are a heap of walks in Queenstown for individuals of all skill levels. Stroll up Queenstown Hill, which is easily accessible from the town centre, to get that Instagram shot of the lake. Learn a little about Maori culture while you're there. There are many hiking trails in the area to discover and below are just a few favourites.

Queenstown Hill Hike

Both residents and tourists concur that this quick 4.2km hike from Queenstown's centre is a firm favourite. After climbing Te Tapu-nui (mountain of profound holiness) for 500 metres through a pine forest, you will emerge from the tree line and appear on the mountainside. From there, you can view Cecil Peak, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables, as well as the entirety of Queenstown. Visit the "Basket of Dreams" sculpture, which invites you to "turn inward for reflection, draw inspiration from the mountains, the lake, and those who are with you, and outward to dream for the future", then proceed a little more to the summit.

The Frankton Arm Walkway

There are no hills on this level, easy 7,3km trail, making it perfect for a bike ride or lakeside promenade. It leaves the central section of Queenstown and travels all the way out to Frankton. The Boatshed Café is a hidden gem that serves top-notch coffee, if you can locate it. It's the perfect spot to unwind, have lunch on the terrace outside, and enjoy the sunshine.

Sawpit Gully Hike

Drive, take the bus or a taxi to Arrowtown, then hike Sawpit Gully to earn your views. You'll see every kind of native New Zealand plant as the beech woodland changes into tussock, matagouri, and speargrass. If you're trekking this 7.3km loop trail in the fall, take in the golden-coloured exotic larch leaves. To reach the saddle between the rugged Brow Peak and German Hill, you must walk. The vistas of Lake Hayes are especially beautiful as you descend.

Tiki Trail

If you don't want to spend money on the gondola to enjoy Queenstown's famed vista, you may hike up the hill instead! After an 1.6km hour-long ascent through Douglas fir and beech forests, you reach the summit and are rewarded with the most stunning panoramas. The Skyline Restaurant, luging, bungee jumping, paragliding, or continuing to hike up the path to Ben Lomond Saddle or Peak are all options from there.

Queenstown Bars & Nightlife

Queenstown Bars & Nightlife

Time to party! The nightlife in Queenstown is thriving every day of the week. If you keep an eye out for drink deals and happy hours, you might be able to find the local hangouts with ease. Like everywhere else in the globe, craft beer is a thing in Queenstown as well. Locals frequent the town's craft beer bars and some of the top local breweries. Discover our culture and some of the local flavours, and pair your favourite dish with a well-known steak or burger. Try Reds for cocktails after dusk, go to Bardeaux for a tranquil evening on the verandah or Barmuda for a little bit of a boogie. Some other recommendations include Smiths Craft Beer House, Bar 1876, The World Bar, Yonder (order one of their burgers, skillets or french toast and thank us later!), Atlas Bar, Cowboys or Attiqa Wine Bar.

Queenstown City

Where to go after one week in Queenstown?

After Queenstown, if you're fortunate enough to travel further in New Zealand, you'll need to make some difficult choices. Several of our favourite locations in New Zealand are as follows:

  • Nelson is a terrific place to spend sunny days, endless trekking, and leisurely beach days. Nelson is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park and Abel Tasman National Park.
  • The 140 subtropical islands of the Bay of Islands, which are close to the top of the North Island, are ideal for individuals who have had their fill of mountains and wish to spend days exploring them.
  • Wellington, New Zealand's capital, is bursting with personality, features oddball pubs, and a thriving arts scene. It is essential to stay a day or two here, and you might even see an All Blacks match.

Is a week in Queenstown long enough?

The ideal length of stay in Queenstown is one week. You'll have ample time to take in the sights of the town, complete a few of the numerous things to do, and set off on some essential day trips to places like Milford Sound and Wanaka.

How much does a week in Queenstown cost?

For one person, a week in Queenstown typically costs $2000-$3000; presuming you stay in a budget hotel, eat out for the majority of your meals, and participate in a select number of the many things Queenstown has to offer. While staying in inexpensive hostels and preparing your own meals can help you keep this cost down a little, Queenstown's numerous opportunities for fun make it much simpler to spend more than $2000. Queenstown is pricey, there is no getting around that.

What to do in Queenstown New Zealand

Got your tickets booked yet? Queenstown has to be one of the best cities in the southern hemisphere to visit, especially if you're an adventure junkie!

If you’re after any local tips for the NZ slopes or surrounding towns, send us an email or hit us up on Facebook.

See you out there! ✌🏻



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