The 14 most popular things to do in Queenstown
Welcome to New Zealand’s famous adventure capital. Nestled on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu and towering over huge mountain peaks, Queenstown is completely dedicated to tourism and offers an incredible number of ways for travelers to get their adrenaline thrills. Known around the world as the home of bungee jumping, Queenstown also cooks up jet skiing, rafting, zip lining, parachuting and paragliding opportunities (as well as ballooning, hiking, fishing, rock climbing and more). In the winter, the city’s focus turns to skiing and snowboarding, and Queenstown becomes the base resort for two of the country’s top ski resorts, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Whenever you visit this small town full of lively entertainment and restaurants, surrounded by amazing mountain scenery, you’ll find plenty of thrills.
1 Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown lies on the shores of this distinct Z-shaped lake, which is covered by high hills and covers an area of 293 square kilometers. According to local Maori legend, Lake Wakatipu originated when the monster Matau was burned to death and his heart is said to still be beating at the bottom of the lake, causing the lake water to rise and fall by 10 centimeters every 20 minutes ( this is actually due to the tide caused by the odd shaped lake).
Europeans first reached the lake in 1853, and during the Otago gold rush in the 1860s, about 30 passenger ships plied the waters serving thousands of gold prospectors in the area. Today, lake traffic is much more suppressed, used by recreational boats, fishing and kayaking. One beautiful old relic in gold rush days is still in use: the TSS Earnslaw, an old steamer from 1912, is now in service as a cruise ship on the lake, and a scenic cruise aboard this historic ship is a definite necessity while in Queenstown.
Accommodations: Where to stay in Queenstown
2 Skipper Canyon.
One of the most scenic trips you can take in the Queenstown area is a trip through Skipper Canyon. This 22 mile long canyon now leads to Corona Peak but was once home to thousands of prospectors after gold was discovered in the Shotover River (which winds through the gorge) in 1892.
Today, the winding and narrow road through the canyon, bordered by stunningly vertical drops on one side and tall cliffs on the other, makes for an incredibly beautiful journey and crosses a high suspension bridge known as the Skipper Bridge (built in 1901) is a major highlight along the way. Although private cars are allowed on the road, self-guided visitors should be aware that rental companies will not issue insurance for travel along this route, and so it is much easier – and more sensible – to take one of the many canyon skipper tours.
Location: 20 km north of Queenstown
3 Motorboating on the Shotover River
The 75-kilometer Shotover River first found fame during the Otago gold rush. But today it’s better known as home to one of Queenstown’s most popular tourist attractions: the Shotover Jet , which is the only company allowed to operate on the narrow canyon portion of the waterway. The Narrow River Race, surrounded by the sharp rocks of the canyon, is often described as “the most thrilling jet boat ride in the world” and is one of Queenstown’s longest running adventures, having been in operation since 1965.
Address: Gorge Road, Arthur’s Point; 20 km north of Queenstown
Official website: www.shotoverjet.com
4 Skiing at The Remarkables
Skiing at The Remarkables.
The ski resort on the northern slopes of the mountain range known as The Remarkables is one of New Zealand’s favorite winter activities. Great for both apprentice and expert skiers alike, The Remarkables boasts excellent state-of-the-art ski facilities that have made it extremely popular with European skiers during the northern hemisphere summer. The ski season usually lasts from June to September, and hour-long buses reach the slopes from Queenstown (on the ski slopes) throughout the season.
Location: 28 km from Queenstown
Official website: https://www.nzski.com/
5 Skyline Gondola.
The countryside surrounding Queenstown is full of gorgeous mountain scenery, but you don’t have to travel out of town to enjoy the panoramic views. The Skyline Gondola, right in town, offers incredible views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the jagged peaks of the Remarkables beyond, when it heads to the summit of 446 meter high Bob’s Peak , the cable car is known as the steepest in the southern hemisphere, and the many lookouts and great restaurant above offer more opportunities to soak in.
Address: Brecon Street, Queenstown
Official website: www.skyline.co.nz
6 Coronet Peak.
A key ski destination in Queenstown is Coronet Peak, which Remarkables , offers world-class skiing. This ski resort really comes into its own, though, for the more experienced ski enthusiast, offering plenty of great runs plus the possibility of night skiing. With the resort’s first tracks, early birds have the opportunity to ski in the morning before the chairlifts officially open and the crowds arrive.(Both night skiing and first tracks must be booked in advance.) During the ski season, which runs from about June through September, regular bus routes run between the resort and Queenstown.
Location: 18 km northeast of Queenstown.
7 AJ Hackett Bungy
AJ Hackett Bungy.
If you were only going to do one bungy jump in your life, Queenstown would be the best place to do it. AJ Hackett Bungy is the company that first started this worldwide adrenaline rush, and their Kawarau Bridge bungee is the original place where it all began in 1988. The 43-meter jump is on a platform on the historic suspension bridge that was first built over the Kawarau Gorge with the Kawarau River below in 1880. For a further thrill, you can also bungee jump the Nevis Point location, which at 134 meters above the Nevis River, is the highest bungee in New Zealand.
Location: Gibbston Valley, 23 km northeast of Queenstown
Official website: www.bungy.co.nz
8 Lake Wanaka.
Lake Wanaka is a gorgeous blue sky set among rolling hills and overlooked by the dramatic craggy peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park , The small town of Wanaka, near the shore, is a quieter alternative to Queenstown and is home to many artists (who show their work in a number of galleries in town) and local retirees who come here for the quiet atmosphere and beautiful natural setting. Fishing, recreational boating and swimming are the main activities for travelers, although with Mount Aspiring National Park on the doorstep and numerous walking trails in the area, Wanaka is a major base for travelers and tourists.
Location: Wanaka, 67 km northeast of Queenstown
9 Queenstown Gardens.
This large botanical garden is located right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is a great place to walk and admire the views of the lake. The gardens were first planted in 1867 and now contain a huge number of both native and international plant species, including a large number of Douglas fir trees that provide shade retreats on the scorching hot Otago summer day. It is best known for its historic oaks and spruce trees, which were planted by Queenstown’s first mayor in 1866. It also has a beautiful rose garden and a restored 1891 rotunda strip.
The address is Park Street, Queenstown.
10 Mount Crichton Track.
Mount Crichton Track Tomas Sobek / photo modified
This two- to four-hour walk is a great way to experience a slice of the Queenstown region’s landscape if you’re pushed for time. The traverse takes you through Creighton Fortress Reserve (the trail is 10 kilometers from Queenstown), through tall beech forests, all the way to Twelve Gorges Mill Creek, which was a staple for prospectors during the Otago gold rush. Some of the dilapidated miners’ cottages are still in place, so you can get a glimpse of the rugged lifestyle of the intrepid miners. There are beautiful views from the mountain ranges, and Lake Wakatipu below, from parts of the trail.
Location: Trailhead off Glenorchy Road, 10 km from Queenstown
Official website: www.ngongotaha.org
11 Kiwi Bird Park.
Kiwi Birdlife Park Nita / photo modified
New Zealand’s flightless kiwi bird may be a national icon, but it’s hard to see because of its nocturnal nature and remote local forest habitat. Queenstown Kiwi Bird Park allows a rare opportunity to see this beloved creature in specially designed kiwi night houses. There is also the opportunity to see nearby tuataras (New Zealand’s endemic reptiles). If you’re traveling with young children, this park offers great activities, including daily animal conservation talks and kiwi encounters, as well as a five-acre forest where you can spot many other native birds.
Address: Brecon Street, Queenstown
Official website: www.kiwibird.co.nz
View from the Ziptrek Zipline
With all the bungee jumping, boating, trekking, skiing, and jet skiing you wouldn’t think Queenstown could offer any more adventurers. But Zipprek Ziprek Queenstown offers alternative options for adrenaline-fueled sightseeing in the city. Ziplines (called “flying foxes” in New Zealand) include the steepest tree-to-tree zipline in the world and drop one mile downhill. Zip-line tours start at the top of Bob’s Peak and offer great panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
Address: Brecon Street, Queenstown
Official website: www.ziptrek.com
13 Ben Lomond Track.
Ben Lomond Track.
This uphill climb is pretty demanding, but the whole sweat is worth the view of Lake Wakatipu Summit Ben Lomond , The entire trek to the summit and return, takes a full day (six to eight hours), and the trail starts first through beech and Douglas fir forests and then into an alpine rut. Keep in mind that the last part of the trail before the summit is extremely steep, so a good level of fitness is required. The Ben Lomond Trail is easily accessible from central Queenstown, accessible from the top of the gondola terminal and from the access road below.
Location: Access from Bob’s Peak
14 Queenstown Trail.
Lake Hayes on the Queenstown Trail
The Queenstown Fantastic Trail is a 110-kilometer walking and biking trail that traverses the scenic countryside surrounding Queenstown. This full-scale project, which has only been in operation since 2012, has opened up vast stretches of private grounds to cyclists and tourists, creating a route of groomed roads that take you over dizzying suspension bridges, passing along the banks of both Lake Wakatipu as well as Lake Hays, and lead to the historic old town with the Arrowtown gold mine as well as the Gibbston Valley Grapevine , The trail contains eight separate paths, so you can choose a short route, or if you have four or so days in your sleeve, you can cycle or take the entire trail. Accommodations are available at various points along the trail.
Queenstown New Zealand.
Queenstown ( Queenstown ) is located in the southwestern part of New Zealand’s South Island on the shores of Lake Wakatipu ( Wakatipu ). As the center of a gold rush in the 19th century, Queenstown grew quickly, but then fell into decline.
The situation was saved by the beautiful views, winter sports, and smart marketing. Queenstown is now a popular destination for Asian and Australian tourists: 8 kilometers from the city is the international airport, and although the length of the runway can not take large airliners, small Airbuses quietly maneuvering between the mountain peaks which surround the city, land at Queenstown Airport.
How to get to Queenstown
We flew here from Australia (Melbourne) Travel time 3 hours
Customs clearance time is about an hour. I wrote about passing the local customs in detail on the Vinsky Forum
Renting a car in New Zealand
To rent a car in New Zealand you need an international license. But you can do without it: you can get a certified translation of your Russian license for 67 New Zealand dollars on the spot – at the airport in Crinstown.
It is possible to rent a car one way (take it in the South Island and return it in the North Island), you can find the car on this site
Queenstown is a small town and it takes a few hours to get around: there is Road 6A along the lake from the airport to its northwestern tip in the town of Glenorchy (Glenorchy), there are several perpendicular streets.
The economic and commercial center of the city is located in the area of pedestrian Beach Street and Route 6A – here are all the main places of recreation in the evening: casinos, restaurants, cafes and stores.
Lodging is plentiful. There is something for every taste. Concentrated along Route 6A. Of course, with a view of the lake.
The city is dominated by modern British-Australian themes with fully glazed living rooms (from floor to ceiling) with glass balconies and loggias.
The building is one and two floors. A lot of greenery and flowers. That is a typical resort town in central England or Western Australia.
You can find an accommodation on site Bucking – there are about 170 options for hotels, motels and apartments (the most popular type of housing here).
What to do in Queenstown
Queenstown offers many activities and excursions. It’s enough to walk up to a special stand at the airport with flyers and pick up a couple of pounds of suggestions.
We chose a trip on a speedboat on the canyon river Shotover . About 10 years ago I watched a movie Royal Journey to New Zealand on board a Singapore plane and I dreamed of taking a trip on such a jet someday.
It felt good, but of course weaker than you imagine. That is, the adrenaline is not very much.
You can jump from a bungee jump (40 meters). You can take a ride on a retro steamboat on Lake Huakatipu.
You can fly a plane or helicopter to the fjord Milford Sound. You can rent a kayak.
You can also climb the mountain in a pendulum chairlift and take pictures of the panorama of the city on the background of the snowy mountains. You can spend two days at Queenstown.
A topic in the Vinsky Forum for a trip to New Zealand: The Grand Tour of New Zealand from South to North