Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is New Zealand’s premier adventure capital. From bungee jumping to skiing, this picturesque town offers thrilling activities for adrenaline junkies all year round.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and crystal-clear waters, Queenstown’s natural beauty is unparalleled. Whether you’re taking a leisurely boat ride or hiking up the Remarkables, the scenic views are sure to leave you in awe.
Beyond its outdoor adventures, Queenstown boasts a vibrant nightlife and culinary scene. From gourmet restaurants to cozy cafes, there’s a delightful array of dining options to satisfy every palate.
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Attractions & Things to do in Queenstown
1. Skyline Queenstown
Perched high above the town, Skyline Queenstown offers panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Visitors can take the gondola up to the top and enjoy activities like luge rides, stargazing, and dining at the Stratosfare Restaurant.
Travel Tip: Visit during sunset for a breathtaking view of the town and Lake Wakatipu below.
2. The Remarkables
One of New Zealand’s most famous mountain ranges, The Remarkables are a must-visit for winter sports enthusiasts. During the winter months, the ski fields come alive with skiers and snowboarders from around the world.
Travel Tip: Even if you’re not into skiing, consider driving up to the lookout point for a stunning view of the peaks.
3. Lake Wakatipu
This stunning glacial lake, shaped like a lightning bolt, is the third-largest lake in New Zealand. Its deep blue waters and surrounding mountain ranges make it a picturesque spot for boat cruises, kayaking, or simply relaxing by the shore.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a historic steamship cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm.
4. Shotover Jet
Experience the thrill of jet boating through the narrow Shotover River canyons with Shotover Jet. This adrenaline-pumping ride offers a unique way to see the rugged landscapes of the region.
Travel Tip: Wear waterproof clothing, as you might get splashed during the ride!
5. Queenstown Gardens
Located on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Wakatipu, these gardens offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling town. With beautifully manicured lawns, exotic and native trees, and a frisbee golf course, it’s a great spot for a leisurely stroll.
Travel Tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch with views of the lake.
6. Kiwi Birdlife Park
This wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Queenstown is dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand’s native species. Visitors can see the iconic kiwi bird up close, along with other native animals and plants.
Travel Tip: Attend the daily wildlife shows to learn more about New Zealand’s unique fauna.
7. Ben Lomond Track
For those looking to stretch their legs, the Ben Lomond Track offers a challenging hike with rewarding views at the summit. Overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the panoramic vistas from the top are truly breathtaking.
Travel Tip: Start early to avoid the midday sun, and always check the weather forecast before setting out.
8. AJ Hackett Bungy
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, take a leap off the historic Kawarau Bridge with AJ Hackett Bungy, the world’s first commercial bungy jump operation. The 43-meter jump offers a thrilling experience with the added option of a water touch.
Travel Tip: If you’re not up for the jump, you can still visit the site and watch others take the plunge.
9. Onsen Hot Pools
Located on the cliffs overlooking the Shotover River, these private hot pools offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Each pool is secluded, allowing for an intimate and tranquil soak amidst stunning alpine scenery.
Travel Tip: Book in advance, especially during peak seasons, as slots can fill up quickly.
Unique Activities in Queenstown
1. 3.5-Hour Quad Biking Experience
Unleash your adventurous side with a thrilling quad biking experience in Queenstown. Navigate through a variety of terrains, from rivers to hills, guided by an expert. This activity promises adrenaline-pumping excitement amidst picturesque landscapes.
2. Tandem Skydive from 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000 Feet
Take the leap of a lifetime with a tandem skydive over Queenstown. Experience the thrill of freefalling from thousands of feet in the air, all while being securely attached to a professional instructor. The panoramic views of the region during the descent are simply breathtaking.
3. 3-Hour Zipline Adventure with 6-Lines
Soar through the treetops on a zipline adventure in Queenstown. With six different lines to choose from, experience the thrill of flying high above the ground and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
Day Trips from Queenstown
1. Milford Sound
Journey from Queenstown through the stunning Fiordland National Park to reach the breathtaking Milford Sound. Once there, embark on a scenic cruise to witness cascading waterfalls, towering peaks, and local wildlife.
Travel Tip: The weather can change rapidly in Fiordland, so pack layers and waterproofs, even if it starts off sunny.
A short drive from Queenstown, Wanaka offers a serene lakeside setting with panoramic mountain views. Engage in water activities on Lake Wanaka or explore the local shops and cafes in the town.
Travel Tip: Visit the famous Wanaka Tree during sunrise or sunset for a magical photo opportunity.
Step back in time with a visit to Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town located just a short drive from Queenstown. Wander the preserved streets, visit the Lakes District Museum, and try your hand at gold panning.
Travel Tip: If visiting in autumn, don’t miss the vibrant fall foliage that Arrowtown is renowned for.
Where to stay in Queenstown
Queenstown, located in New Zealand, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, encompassing the serene waters of Lake Wakatipu and the majestic Remarkables mountain range. Often referred to as New Zealand’s adrenaline capital, Queenstown offers a plethora of thrilling activities, from bungee jumping and rafting to skiing and skydiving. The city is also a hub for gastronomy, with numerous bars, cafés, and restaurants catering to every palate. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or someone looking to relax amidst nature, Queenstown has something for everyone.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Heartland Hotel Queenstown (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in central Queenstown, Heartland Hotel offers panoramic views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains. It’s a short walk from the town center.
- Price: €109 per night
- Rating: 7.8 (Good)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Swiss-Belsuites Pounamu Queenstown (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Swiss-BelSuites Pounamu Queenstown offers luxury accommodation with stunning lake and mountain views.
- Price: €126 per night
- Rating: 7.5 (Good)
3. Budget Hotel
Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located just 7 minutes’ drive from Queenstown’s lively center, this 3.5-star resort features a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, 2 bars, and a bowling alley.
- Price: €93 per night
- Rating: 7.4 (Good)
4. Hotel for Family
Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: A 10-minute walk from the resort center, this 4-star hotel offers spacious accommodation and great views over Lake Wakatipu and the mountains.
- Price: €117 per night
- Rating: 7.9 (Good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Novotel Queenstown Lakeside is just a 1-minute walk from many shops, restaurants, nightlife, and activities.
- Price: €143 per night
- Rating: 8.0 (Very Good)
6. Hotel for Solo Travellers
Scenic Suites Queenstown (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in the resort of Queenstown, Scenic Suites is a 5-minute walk from the center, offering quiet, hillside accommodation with great views over the lake and mountains.
- Price: €127 per night
- Rating: 8.3 (Very Good)
Did you know? Facts about Queenstown
- Queenstown is a resort town located in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island.
- The town is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, which is a Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes.
- Queenstown offers breathtaking views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, Ben Lomond, and Queenstown Hill.
- The Queenstown-Lakes District has a vast land area, not counting its inland lakes Hāwea, Wakatipu, and Wānaka.
- The region has neighboring towns like Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, Wānaka, Alexandra, and Cromwell.
- Queenstown is renowned for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism.
- The area was first discovered and settled by Māori, with significant history related to the collection of Pounamu (greenstone).
- European explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann were the first non-Māori to settle the area.
- Many streets in Queenstown bear names from the gold mining era, and some historic buildings from that time still stand.
- Queenstown lies close to the center of a small wine-producing region, considered to be the world’s southernmost.
FAQ about Queenstown
What is Queenstown known for?
Queenstown is known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism.
How was Lake Wakatipu formed?
Lake Wakatipu is a long, thin, Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes.
Which mountains can you view from Queenstown?
You can view The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, Ben Lomond, and Queenstown Hill from Queenstown.
What is the significance of the name “Queenstown”?
There are various accounts, but one suggests it was named in honor of Queen Victoria, referencing a town in Ireland.
Is Queenstown a good place for wine enthusiasts?
Yes, Queenstown lies close to the center of a small wine-producing region, which is reputed to be the world’s southernmost.
What adventure activities can tourists enjoy in Queenstown?
Activities include skiing, snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking, paragliding, and sky diving.
How did Queenstown play a role in New Zealand’s gold mining era?
Many streets in Queenstown bear names from the gold mining era, and some historic buildings from that time, like William’s Cottage and Queenstown Police Station, still remain.
Are there any historical Māori connections to Queenstown?
Yes, the area was first discovered and settled by Māori. The lake was believed to be dug by the Waitaha ancestor, Rākaihautū.