Nestled in amongst the majestic mountains of the Southern Alps and on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is one of the most visited holiday destinations in New Zealand. This popularity is largely due to three things; its stunning scenery, world class skiing and – as you may have heard – its adrenaline pumping adventure activities.
Yes – you will need a sense of adventure and perhaps a touch of courage to make the most of your holiday in Queenstown!
Before we begin here is a breakdown of Queenstown’s suburbs to help you get the lay of the land.
Queenstown central sits at the top of the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, behind the township lays the bush-clad slopes of Queenstown Hill. In the large valley stretching out behind Queenstown Hill to the north of the Kawarau River you will find the suburbs of Frankton, Lower Shotover, Dalefield, Speargrass Flat, Lake Hayes and Arrowtown.
Following this valley toward the east will take you through the Gibbston Valley and the Kawarau Gorge and out to Cromwell and beyond. From the Arrowtown Valley you can also head up over the Crown Ranges and on past the Cardrona Ski Field and to Wanaka.
Crossing the Kawarau River to the south you will find Kawarau Kelvin Heights, Jack’s Point suburbs following the Lake’s edge and State Highway 6 and on towards Kingston and Invercargill or the Milford Sound. The Remarkables ski area is also located in the mountain range south of the Kawarau River.
Now that you have orientated yourself there are a great deal of things to do in Queenstown, so let’s break it down for you here we have the best adventure activities, best ways to relax, best day trips, best walking tracks and the best places to get the best views!
5 Best Adventure Activities in Queenstown
Let’s get the adrenaline pumping and tick these top 5 adventure activities off the bucket list!
- Bungy Jumping. The ultimate adrenaline fuelled fun in Queenstown, the team at AJ Hackett Bungy are the original New Zealand bungy creators. Choose from the hard core Nevis Bungy (134m), the convenient Ledge Bungy (47m) or the popular Kawarau Bridge Bungy (43m). Prices range from $160 – $275.
- Jet Boating. If hurtling down the Shotover River at high speeds sound like you then the Shotover Jet is the one for you. The experienced team will navigate the twists and turns of the Shotover River while ensuring you have the best time out on the water in their purpose built jet boats – all just ten minutes’ drive from Queenstown! The Shotover Jet costs around $150 per adult and $80 per child, bookings are essential.
- Ziplining. Ziptrek Ecotours offer up the best guided zip line adventures for all ages. Choose from The Moa Tour (1.5hrs) , Kea Tour (2.5hrs) and Kereru Tour (45 mins) or mix it up a little on the Twilight Tour. Zip line prices range from $145 up to $195 for adults. The Zipline take off point is located at the top of the Gondola, you can ride the gondola up or take the Tiki walking trail (1-1.5hrs)
- Canyoning. Something a bit different for those who are looking for a challenge – canyoning in Queenstown is a unique way to explore the landscape using climbing, swimming, floating and abseiling through otherwise inaccessible areas. $219 for the half day experience and $319 per person for a full day canyoning adventure.
- Quad Bike Riding. Riding across the Queenstown backcountry on a quad bike is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors for people of all ages. Rides are tailored to suit and numbers are limited to provide the best all round experience. Rides range from $219 per person up to $365 for exclusive tours. All gear including helmets, boots, goggles, gloves, pants etc are provided.
7 Best Ways To Relax In Queenstown
Had enough action for the day? Here are 7 great choices for those who want to spend some time relaxing in Queenstown.
- Body Sanctum Day Spa. The place to be if you just want to relax and rejuvenate – particularly after all that action adventure! This premier day spa offers an interesting variety of massage options along with a wide range of the usual beauty, body and facial treatments.
- The Eforea: Spa. Located at Hilton Queenstown The eforea: spa is perfect for those seeking a luxury spa experience. You will find a tailored men’s package, and ‘The Escape’ and ‘Essentials’ spa experiences. Indian head massage, Chinese acupressure massage and Egyptian reflexology are just some of the options available along with full body exfoliation, manicures and pedicures, pregnancy massages and much more.
- SALT Float Spa. SALT’s Dream Float experiences offer the ultimate in alternative relaxation. Immerse yourself in the light and sound free environment of the dreampods and float weightlessly in the heavily salted water and just let the stress and pressures of the day float away. Book a Dream Float 60 minute experience for $89 or book a float and 45 minute massage for $170.
- Hot Tub On The Hillside. For something a little different why not soak in an open air hot tub surrounded by beautiful scenery and in your very own secluded spot just 10 minutes’ drive form Queenstown. There are only two hot tub sites so book ahead if you don’t want to miss out! 2-4 people are able to be accommodated per tub at $175 for the group. This books the tub for 3 hours either in the afternoon or mornings can be arranged for an extra $25 per group.
- Onsen Hot Pools. For a more traditional hot pools experience head on up to the Onsen Hot Pools at Arthurs Point overlooking the Shotover River Canyon. You can choose to convert your private hotpools experience from an indoors one to and outdoors one using the retractable roof and windows. Pricing ranges from $87.50 up to $107.50 per person with group discounts available.
- Queenstown Gardens. Starting to look like a prune from all the soaking in warm water? Then spending some time at the Queenstown Gardens could be just what you need. Enjoy a round of lawn bowls, take on the challenge of Disc Golf or tennis or just make your way around the reserves edges and enjoy the views of Lake Wakatipu. The Gardens are also home to their very own Ice Skating rink. Entry to the Queenstown Ice Arena costs $19 per person opening times for public drop in sessions vary so check the website for more info.
- Gibbston Valley Wine Cave. A visit to the Gibbston Valley Wine cave is a great way to spend some time investigating the oldest winery in the region – and sampling some of their best wines of course! A cave and winery tour costs $35 per person and runs daily at 12pm and 4pm. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and you can even combine it with a meal at the winery restaurant on site – all just 25 minutes from Queenstown.
4 Best Walking Tracks In Queenstown
Queenstown has some of the best alpine walking and hiking tracks in the country and there are plenty to choose from – here are our top 4 picks.
- Bobs Peak Tiki Trail. The Tiki Trail begins at the bottom of the gondola – so if you would rather enjoy the walk instead of taking the gondola up then this is the one for you. You could also ride the gondola up and walk down if that option appeals to you more. The walk will take you around an hour to get to the top and offer spectacular views along with access to the Ziptrek zip lining eco-tours.
- Ben Lomond Track. One for the more seasoned hikers, the Ben Lomond takes around 5 to 8 hours and requires some degree of experience as well as hikers to be well equipped for changing weather patterns.
- Lake Hayes Loop Track. One of the most picturesque and accessible tracks in Queenstown, the Lake Hayes Loop Track is the perfect option or the whole family. The two hour walk winds its way around the shores of Lake Hayes and provides the perfect backdrop for some great selfies or family snaps.
- Queenstown Hill. Yes there is a fair amount of effort required for this one and it is up hill all the way to the top. But your reward is some spectacular views out over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges. The walk takes approximately 3 hours from start to finish but you will want to leave some time to enjoy the gorgeous views.
4 Best Views In Queenstown
Sometimes you just want that perfect selfie or holiday pic to show everyone back home just how stunning Queenstown is – well we got you covered here are the top 4 places to go for the best views in Queenstown.
- Riding The Skyline Gondola. This one is an easy one, just ride to the top and all the hard work is done for you – find spectacular views out over Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown central township along with epic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
- Cruising On The TSS Earnslaw. Yes we know this one isn’t going to give you any views from up high – but it is a more up-close-and-personal approach to views of the Lake and its beautiful surrounds. Cruising on this historic steam ship is a unique and memorable experience with the added bonus of great views all around.
- Climbing Queenstown Hill. For the perfect views at sunrise or sunset climb to the top of Queenstown Hill – you won’t be disappointed! This 3 hour round trip rewards with views out over the Lake from high above Queenstown’s central township.
- Taking A Scenic Flight. Taking a scenic flight in Queenstown is simply the best way to get a birds eye view of the area and get really get a feel for the surrounding landscape often hidden from view when down in the valleys. Choose from helicopter or fixed wing aircraft scenic flights.
3 Best Day Trips From Queenstown
Looking for the best places to go for a day trip from Queenstown? Here are our top 3 destinations all within easy driving distance.
- Milford Sound. The Milford Sound is our number one day trip choice here, at 3.5 hours drive from Queenstown it’s also the longest drive so ensure you have plenty of time to make the round trip or consider joining an organised tour. Located within the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is an idyllic place with untouched rainforest, and an abundance of native wildlife and birdlife.
- Glenorchy/Paradise. Taking the drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu out to Glenorchy is a great way to get out of the hustle and bustle of Queenstown for the day and really see some of this amazing place first-hand. At just 45 minutes’ drive it is a great little day trip – especially if you bring along a picnic and seek out the famed ‘Paradise’.
- Wanaka. At just over an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Wanaka is a great little town to go for lunch and make a day of it. Spend some time at the local Puzzling World attraction or discover the best local walks and mountain biking trails. Make you way back to Queenstown via the Cromwell/Gibbston Valley loop for a taste of the Central Otago landscape – and delicious summer fruit!
Need transport to get around all of these awesome activities and attractions? Enjoy the best Queenstown has to offer with reliable car hire from the locals at Hitch Car Rental. Get in touch for our best Queenstown car rental deals today.