20 Fascinating Things to do in Queenstown
Last Updated on 22/10/2021
Queenstown is commonly known as the natural playground of New Zealand with its mesmerizing landscapes as well as sights to visit, packed with action and adventure. Based on each season of the year, Queenstown is well-reputed for its various activities as a tourist favourite. Sitting on the shores of the South Islands’ Lake Wakatipu, the beautiful city of Queenstown is renowned for action sports and its multidimensional aspects of exploration, making it the adventure capital of the world. From visiting lake Wakatipu to ziplining across the hills, here are some of the best things to do in Queenstown for travellers.
Table of Contents
- 1 Our Top Pick – Visit Lake Wakatipu
- 2 Tour in a Gondola
- 3 Head over to the Queenstown Garden
- 4 Discover the Skippers Canyon
- 5 Go White Water Rafting at Shotover River
- 6 Skii in Coronet Peak
- 7 Visit the Kawarau River
- 8 Sip fine wine at the Gibbston Valley Winery
- 9 Hike in the Ben Lomond Track
- 10 Witness the Basket of Dreams – Queenstown Hill
- 11 Explore Arrowtown
- 12 Find fictional awe at Glenorchy
- 13 Tour the Mount Crichton Loop Track
- 14 Swim in Lake Wanaka
- 15 Explore Mount Aspiring National Park
- 16 Make a visit to Kiwi Birdlife Park
- 17 Go Ziplining above Hills
- 18 Travel in the TSS Earnslaw
- 19 Go Bungee Jumping at Nevis Valley
- 20 Explore Milford Sound
Our Top Pick – Visit Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu, known as the crown jewel of Queenstown, is one of the key attractions of the town. From cruises in the Lake to unforgettable views, Lake Wakatipu is certainly the most famous attraction in the region. Surrounded by icy cold waters, Lake Wakatipu spreads across 80 kilometres, ending in Kingston. Originally named Whakatipu wai-māori, in Maori, it is the biggest lake in New Zealand. Having three arms, Lake Wakatipu has Queenstown on its northern shore close to its eastern end of the middle section.
Tour in a Gondola
Nestled 450 meters high at Bob’s peak, the Queenstown Gondola gives 220-degree panoramic views that include views of Lake Wakatipu, The Coronet Peak, The Remarkables Mountain range, Walter and Cecil Peak and Queenstown itself. The scenic views of the gondola offer visitors the real essence of the Queenstown skyline. Known as the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere, the cable car ride certainly strides above and beyond one’s expectations. This gondola includes a panoramic bar, hiking trails and the luge ride back down.
Head over to the Queenstown Garden
Established by planting two English Oak trees in 1866, the Queenstown Garden came to its state today, by the exotic trees that were planted by its residents since its opening. It composes of a children’s playground, a tennis court, lawn bowls, skateboarding, ice hockey and ice skating facilities. Multiple sections of the garden area are surrounded by mountains, displaying a view of Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown region. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Queenstown.
Discover the Skippers Canyon
Skippers Canyon – once a gold mining area – is a path accompanied by scenic views. Carved out by the Shotover river, Skippers Canyon is 22 kilometres in length and is several hundred meters below the Skippers Road. Skippers Canyon is well reputed for its narrow, daring and adventurous roads. It also offers adventurers an exhilarating Jet boat experience over the river and the view is absolutely stunning.
Go White Water Rafting at Shotover River
Flowing south from the Southern Alps, the Shotover River is 75 kilometres long and runs through Skippers Canyon. It drains between Richardson and Harris Mountains, ultimately flowing out to Kawarau River east of Queenstown. From Gold mining to commercial white water rafting and Shotover jet boats, the Shotover river certainly gives one scenic experience of a lifetime. The Shotover Canyon above the river adds a higher adrenaline pump to the excitement of the river thrills. However, it takes a unique colour due to a large amount of sediment from the mountain.
Skii in Coronet Peak
If you have skiing, in your holiday checklist, Coronet Peak is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand. Travellers can experience skiing in exciting heights here in Coronet Peak. It is known for its famous skiing resorts in the southern hemisphere. Be it an experienced person or a first-timer, skiing in Coronet Peak is undoubtedly a thrilling activity to do in Queenstown. The Coronet Peak has its levels of skiing to match the requirement. The location caters to both Individuals, and teams looking for an unforgettable experience.
Visit the Kawarau River
Draining Lake Wakatipu, the Kawarau River flows eastwards around 60 Kilometers, making it through Kawarau Gorge. Known for its rapids and strong currents, the river tends to cater to highly adventurous thrill-seekers. Not limiting to the regular water adventures with well-reputed dangerous rapids, the Kawarau River is famous for bungee jumping from its suspension bridge. Known as the birthplace of bungee jumping, Kawarau River gives the ultimate adrenaline experience. Adventure enthusiasts can witness the picturesque views of the gorge as well.
Sip fine wine at the Gibbston Valley Winery
Being the largest Wine cave in New Zealand, producing award-winning Central Otago Pinot Noirs from South Island, The Gibbston Valley Winery is a 30-minute drive away from Queenstown. The Gibbston Valley Winery ensures its guests experience fine wines and stories of their glorious history through a Wine Tour. Visitors can also enjoy one of the finest dining experiences at the bistro-style restaurant and cheesery. It has also opened its luxury lodge and spa, offering a relaxed and opulent experience serving gastronomic food and a five-star concierge service.
Hike in the Ben Lomond Track
A hike towards the Ben Lomond Tracks’ final destination, Ben Lomond Summit at 1,748 meters is no simple challenge to conquer. It requires a Full-days’ hike starting from Douglas Fir through the Tiki Trail, or the Skyline Access Road to witness the 360-degree view of Queenstown. Among the multiple identified areas on this hike, the terrain gets steeper and rougher, making it a challenge for visitors. The view includes the scenic awes of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Kawarau River, The Remarkables, Ka-kamu-a-Hakitekura and Cecil and Walter Peaks. A Clear sky would certainly offer views of Mount Earnslaw and Aspiring.
Witness the Basket of Dreams – Queenstown Hill
Sculpted by Caroline Robinson, the Basket of Dreams situated atop Queenstown Hill is known as a place to rest, a place to meet and a place to dream by; For most visitors of Queenstown Hill, the Basket of Dreams is always a sight to the eyes as it catches attention at a glance. Due to its unique positioning and unique design, the Basket of Dreams gives the short hike or mountain biking up Queenstown Hill, something different amidst the natural beauty of the environment.
Arrowtown is a town located on the banks of the Arrow River, which is known for its reputation earned for Gold Mining, Arrowtown comprises buildings built by the Europeans and Chinese settlers. This town is also home to the Lakes District Museum, which gives visitors details of the gold mining history of early settlers. Arrowtown has a golf course that is privately owned that invites a number of foreign guests. Arrowtown can be accessed by the Arrow River, the Shotover Gorge and Lake Heys, and this could be the ideal addition for a day trip.
Find fictional awe at Glenorchy
From awe-inspiring sights, including sites from the ever famous “Lord of The Rings” movie, Glenorchy gives any visitor an experience that they’ll never forget. Activities such as jet boating, kayaking, hiking, skydiving and especially horse trekking are unique experiences that Glenorchy promises its visitors. It takes a 45-minute drive from Queenstown to reach this scenic town. The hike on the Routeburn Track, Boardwalk, visiting Lord of the Rings locations, skydiving and jet boating are some of the best things to do here. Therefore, Glenorchy could be the perfect one day trip or possibly be the mini-adventure town within the Adventure capital, Queenstown. Without a doubt, visiting this city must definitely be on your bucket list.
Tour the Mount Crichton Loop Track
Living life as a gold prospector, the historic Sam Summers has created a rock tunnel once used as a tail race with a hut named after himself by mining for 30 years. This creek gorge of twelve miles is where the miners had sluiced, which is visible after many years. It is possible to walk by a river, surrounded by native bush, a waterfall (12 Mile Creek Falls), Sam’s gold mining hut, a big lake and views of the small lake with many hills. Visitors recommend beginning this expedition clockwise as the descent at the end of the hike offers an aerial view of Lakes Dispute and Wakatipu.
Swim in Lake Wanaka
New Zealand’s fourth-largest lake, Lake Wanaka covers a staggering 192 Square Kilometers and is a massive 300 meters deep. Fed by the Mātukituki and Makarora Rivers, Lake Wanaka is 42 kilometres long and surrounds four small islands named Ruby Island, Stevensons Island, Mou Tapu and Mou Waho within its span. The water body is a famous location for fishing, boat rides and swimming during the summer, while the surroundings host alpine and cross-country skiing, snowsports, tramping, rock-climbing, mountain-biking, mountaineering, and parapenting during other seasons.
Explore Mount Aspiring National Park
Situated in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand, Mount Aspiring National Park is recognized as the 10th National Park of New Zealand. Covering an area of 3,562 kilometres west of Lake Wanaka, it is famous for walking, tramping and mountaineering. The park is a combination of glaciers, mountains, river valleys and an alpine lake that welcomes all visitors. Known as a hiker’s paradise, this National park does not fail to present a breathtaking landscape. This also includes a blue pool, which is fed by icy-glacier water
Make a visit to Kiwi Birdlife Park
Completing 35 years of protecting the wildlife and nature, as a privately owned property, the Kiwi Birdlife Park has so far helped conserve at least 20 types of species within the 5-acre land. Having its cafe and gift shop, the Kiwi Birdlife Park, is a beautifully landscaped park with majestic trees. It welcomes anyone during the day to unwind, calm and relax while enjoying the atmosphere and stunning views.
Go Ziplining above Hills
Apart from all other activities on land or water, the latest addition to Queenstown is the Zipline which offers unique activities. The zipline – in its essence – is the mode where a person will be suspended by a harness or pulley and transported (slid) between two locations through a cable or rope. In Queenstown, ziplines have emerged as the trendiest adrenaline-fuelled activity for its visitors. The lines start from Bob’s peak, which is placed between multiple trees to enhance the experience. Pure adrenaline junkies must try ziplining in Queenstown for an unforgettable experience.
Travel in the TSS Earnslaw
The only coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere, TSS Earnslaw is in service for the past 109 years since its establishment. This TSS Earnslaw provides a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu. The whistling ship of TSS Earnslaw is being fed with coal, hence the unique sound. In addition to that, the scenic and mesmerizing views around Lake Wakatipu gives an unforgettable experience to anyone travelling on the ship.
Go Bungee Jumping at Nevis Valley
As one of the four-wheel-driving adventure locations in Queenstown, the Nevis Valley fulfils multiple aspects of adventure to travellers visiting this place. Beginning from rough four-wheel-driven races to mountain biking and horse riding, this valley in the Remarkables Conservation area is quite a sight. Whilst the Nevis River flows at its pace, the scenic river is also home to the Nevis Bungee Jump which is the highest or tallest bungee jump of Australasia at 134 meters height and is reckoned to be the most extreme catapult in the world.
Explore Milford Sound
Milford Sound lies within the Fiordland National Park, and it is nothing but the perfect combination of rain forests, mountains and waterfalls. Accessible by boat and land through a hike, the Milford Sound or Piopiotahi has been home for fur seals and penguins alike. Attracting approximately 1 million visitors a year, Milford Sound does not fail to deliver movie-like scenes and sheer beauty. Out of the many things to do in Queenstown, a tour to Milford Sound remains on top.