1 August 2019

Top Ten things to do in (& around) Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is an insanely beautiful place but, more than just pretty, it’s got a wild heart. There are so many amazing outdoor activities to try, adrenaline rushes to be had and ways to push yourself right out of your comfort zone and feel really, truly alive. Not only that, but Queenstown boasts some dang delicious food and gorgeous views too. Pretty much, it’s awesome and you should definitely be excited about going there.

If you are planning a trip to Queenstown, I’ve got you covered! Here are ten of my top picks of things to do, followed by some extra travel tips at the end:

1. Bungy Jump at AJ Hackett Bungy

There's nothing quite like the feeling of throwing yourself off a ledge! Bungy jumping was invented in New Zealand in 1988 by AJ Hackett and it's an #NZMustDo that will give you a rush like no other.

It's not everyone's cup of tea but there is a 100% safety record in New Zealand meaning no one has ever injured themselves here - it's just a whole lot of fun! The team at AJ Hackett are awesome and get you super pumped to jump and if you chicken out at first, they’ll help you get the courage.

A word of warning; Don’t look down. Just look straight ahead and JUMP. It’s an amazing experience and I've done it three times now. There are a few jumps at different heights you can do in Queenstown: Kawarau Bridge, The Ledge and The Nevis. Find AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand here.

2. Experience the Shotover Jet

The Shotover Jet is one of the most thrilling rides I've ever experienced! It's a fantastic mixture of amazing scenery, feeling terrified and laughing nonstop. Basically, it's an absolute blast and one of the top activities to put on your list. I did it on my first trip to Queenstown in 2011 and I'm just itching to do it again. Find Shotover Jet here.

3. Bob's Peak & Skyline Gondola

Bob’s Peak is the place to visit for the best panoramic views in town. You can either walk up for free (it's very steep) via the Tiki Trail or pay to ride up in the Skyline Gondola. Either way, you'll get breathtaking views over the landscape Queenstown is so famous for.

At the top, you can opt to go luging (a type of fun go-karting), they have a restaurant up there if you fancy a meal or beer with a view, and there's The Ledge bungy jump. Find the Skyline Gondola and Luge here.

4. Go Funyaking on Dart River

Funyaking with Dart River Adventures is one of my favourite activities I've ever done in New Zealand. Based in Glenorchy, this half-day trip from Queenstown begins with a fun high-speed jet boat ride up the Dart River. You then hop on your funyak (inflatable canoe) and float back down the glacier-blue river. You are surrounded by the mountains used in the Lord of the Rings films and it is so stunning. Read more about the tour in my blog post here: Incredible Must-Do Tour from Queenstown.

5. Day trip to Milford Sound

Be sure to have a spare day in your itinerary for a day trip to Milford Sound in Fiordland. You’ll pass through the snowy Southern Alps, see waterfalls and glacial valleys, beautiful, clear rivers and that's before you even get there. Then, you get to enjoy a two-hour boat cruise through the majestic Milford Sound which is awe-inspiring in all forms of weather.

There are a number of operators offering full-day trips so research to find which is best for you. I've joined both the JUCY Cruise Vista coach tour and the GreatSights tour and they were both fantastic.

6. Relax at Onsen Hot Pools

I am yet to experience Onsen Hot Pools because they are so popular they are always booked out months in advance (I just can't plan that far ahead!). But considering how amazing and relaxing it looks in photos and the popularity of it, it's joining my top list anyway. Doesn't it just look like the ultimate way to end a day of adventuring? Find Onsen Hot Pools here.

7. Head to the Ski Fields

Whether you’re an expert or a total beginner, Queenstown is a great place to hit the slopes (during winter months). The big ski fields to visit are The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Hire gear directly at the ski fields if you don’t have your own, and sign up for lessons if needed wither with a group or one-on-one.

Daily shuttle buses run from the town centre or if you’re self-driving, I recommend getting up there early so you can park nice and close to the top and avoid long queues. Find out more about Skiing in Queenstown here.

8. Do a Winery Tour

The Central Otago region is famous for its amazing Pinot Noir. There are loads of fantastic wineries in the area and, really, it’d be downright rude if you didn’t visit as many of them as possible! My recommendation is that you get yourself on a winery tour. That way you get driven to the best locations, guided by a local, and you don’t have to worry about a designated driver. Sounds like the perfect day to me. Find more information on Queenstown winery tours here.

9. Go Horse Riding in Middle Earth

If you love horses and nature, join a horse trek with Dart River Adventures. Based in Glenorchy, they run tours from Queenstown for beginners to intermediate experience. It's a fantastic and leisurely way to take in the epic scenery. Read all about their Hobbits' Hack trek in my blog post here: Horse Riding Tour in Lord of the Rings Locations

10. Enjoy incredible Hiking

If you love hiking then you are spoilt for choice around Queenstown. The Hill Time Walk (2-3 hours return) is popular with locals and tourists alike and offers fantastic 360-degree views of the area, including Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and Karawau River.

For more seasoned hikers, the Ben Lomond track is a demanding, full-day trek. On a clear day, you are rewarded with stunning views of Mounts Aspiring and Earnslaw in the distance.

An hour's drive from Queenstown (close to Wanaka) is Roy's Peak track. It's one of the best half-day hikes (5-7 hours) in the South Island and the views at the top are incredible.

More: A few more fun activities and nearby attractions I have enjoyed include Fear Factory, Below Zero Ice Bar, ice skating, and visiting nearby Arrowtown, Wanaka and Glenorchy. There are so many more activities including skydiving, paragliding, ziplining, canyon swings, themed day trips, scenic flights, mountain biking etc. to enyoy too. For more ideas head to: queenstownnz.co.nz.

Top Tip: You can get a number of the activities mentioned for a discounted price by booking in advance at bookme.co.nz.

Where to Stay

There is no shortage of incredible places to stay around Queenstown to suit everyone's budget and style. Here are a few of my top picks:

Budget: JUCY Snooze Queenstown
$35 NZD per night for a Private Japanese-style Pod in a shared room with shared facilities
$135 NZD per night (depending on the season) for a Double Ensuite Room

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
$55 per night for a Powered Camp Site for two people

Mid-range: Lomond Lodge Motel & Apartments
$210 NZD per night for a Garden Studio Room

Splash-out: QT Queenstown
$349 NZD per night for an Alpine King Room

How to Get Around

If you fly in and aren't getting a rental car, you can catch the local Orbus bus directly outside the airport. It runs often and they only accept cash - $10 NZD each way. Plan with their timetable here.

Once in town, Queenstown is very small and easy to walk around. Many of the activities around Queenstown offer complimentary transport from the town centre such as AJ Hackett Bungy, Onsen Pools, Shotover Jet etc. If you wish to visit nearby places such as Wanaka or Arrowtown for the day you can catch a local bus.

Where to Eat

Queenstown has so many foodie options and I've already written a whole post on my favourite places to eat. You bet Fergburger's at the top of the list! Check it out here: Where to Eat in Queenstown: 8 Foodie Hotspots & Eateries.

Pin it! :)

Those are my top picks and I hope you have a fantastic getaway in Queenstown! Let me know in the comments if you have any top recommendations of your own to add, I'd love to check them out next time.

Happy Travels,

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