13 must-do activities in Queenstown
Deciding what things to do in Queenstown can seem overwhelming, as there are so many world-class options to choose from. As expected, outdoor activities here are a plenty, however there is also a surprising range of indoor experiences. Whether it’s living out your foodie dreams with a delicious Mars bar donut, skydiving in a simulator or from a flying plane, jumping head first from a 43m high bridge or exploring New Zealand’s untouched scenery from mountain tops and river beds – it’s impossible to choose wrong when it comes to Queenstown activities. We’ve got all your bases covered when it comes to maximising your time in Queenstown with the top 13 must do experiences. For where to stay in Queenstown take a look here!
See our top 13 must do’s on your trip to Queenstown…
1. Ever wanted to fly? You can!
Behold the incredible experience of body flight. iFLY simulates free fall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel, allowing first timers or experiences sky divers to develop and hone their skills. Enjoy the thrill of falling into a 200km/h+ wind stream and learning to fly. Base yourself in the heart of all the excitement and book a bach in Queenstown!
2. Hike to stunning views
Queenstown is booming with alpine terrain, many of which are set up for adventurers of any age to hike to the stunning panoramic views. A classic amongst tourists and locals alike is the Ben Lomond Track, which is a six to eight hour return walk that starts at Skyline Queenstown. The summit at 1483m up is extremely rewarding with views of the Southern Alps and The Remarkables. Another epic hike is the Routeburn Track, which is an hour South of Queenstown’s town centre. Considered one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, hikers can enjoy a shorter day walk with their family or a two to three day adventure that brings them to Fiordland. But for those wanting a more leisurely stroll – embark on the two-hour return journey up Queenstown Hill or a waterfront stroll through the Queenstown Botanical Gardens, where there is also the option to play frisbee golf. After a day of active pursuits, settle into your Queenstown holiday home.
3. Live out some of your foodie dreams
Queenstown is absolutely bursting with incredible food offerings, which will both please your Instagram feed and hungry tummy. Tucked in the corner of Church Street, Balls and Bangles offers the most unique and eloquently designed donuts and bagels that are well worth standing in line for. Fan favourites include the hangover cure breakfast bagel, crème brûlée donut and the ultimate chocolate shake and peanut butter donut combo. But don’t forget the ultimate Queenstown foodie experience – Fergburger. Considered an institution in Queenstown and an absolute must do by tourists, queues to wait in line for your turn to sink your teeth into one of their mouth-watering burgers can be over an hour. But our insider tip to avoid a hunger meltdown while waiting in line is to instead order over the phone in advance to skip the queue! Better yet, grab some burgers and cosy up at your Queenstown accommodation for an ideal night in.
4. Face your fear of heights
Queenstown is known as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. Adrenaline junkies have their pick of skydiving over paradise, bungy jumping off the Kawarau Bridge, zip lining, or getting catapulted through Nevis Canyon on AJ Hacketts’ world famous swing. All experiences are met with that classic Kiwi customer service charm – so don’t be surprised if staff try to wind you up before you jump. The combination of adrenaline and stunning scenery will make you want to go back for seconds, thirds and fourths. After all that adrenalin ensure you book a bach to unwind in.
5. Reward yourself with some relaxation
Bursting onto the scene as one of the newest must do experiences in Queenstown, the Onsen Hot Pools are the perfect way to indulge in some relaxation. Based over in Shotover Country, guests will be treated to a private hot pool that comes with a retractable roof. Those that go in the afternoon will have beautiful views of the Shotover River while evening goers will have a memorable stargazing experience. Make sure to book well in advance as spots are limited. Don’t forget to request their pamper package that includes wine and ice cream as an additional way to treat yourself (go on!). Keep the indulgence going and book a bach for your home away from home comforts.
6. Explore Lake Wakitipu
It’s impossible to fully experience Queenstown without exploring Lake Wakitipu itself. There are many ways to do this, from paddle boarding, jet boating, enjoying a glass of wine from Perky’s Floating Bar or our favourite – the Earnslaw. A time capsule in itself, the Earnslaw is a steamboat that transports riders to a former way of life in Queenstown. To get the full experience, riders on the Earnslaw can also book a Walter Peak High Country Farm Tour that includes lakeside dining and an introduction to the Queenstown farming lifestyle. After an excursion on the lake, head back to your Queenstown holiday home to gear up for the next adventure.
Queenstown’s much loved number one Lake Cruise is Wayne and Betty’s Million Dollar Cruise with over 1,000 Five star reviews, nothing else even comes close. Historic Dam, Willow Islands, crystal clear waters, fabulous homes, great way to learn about Queenstown with our legendary Commentary. It is the only Queenstown Lake Cruise with overhead panoramic observation windows. Iconic views in a gorgeous heated launch with a well equipped bar, you’ll love it. 90 minutes in duration and only $49.00 it departs at 11am and 2pm every day.”
7. Get wet with a river adventure
With so many dramatic rivers bending their way around Queenstown, it’s not surprising that jet boating is one of the most popular activities in the region. Have your pick between an epic half-day adventure exploring the Dart River, which made several appearances in Lord of the Rings, or choose a shorter and speedier ride on the Shotover jet, which – you guessed it – whizzes across the Shotover River and has interestingly proved popular with the Royal Family. Need somewhere awesome to base yourself from? Why not book a bach in Queenstown!
8. Visit Glenorchy
A scenic 45-minute drive from Queenstown will bring you to the most charming town in all of the South Island! Glenorchy is a photographer’s dream, with a small red farm that perfectly contrasts the snow-capped mountains and teal blue waters behind it. Another must-do is taking a visit to Mrs Woolly’s General Store, which is full of delicious organic foods and artisan gifts. Their best offering, however, is the amazing chef-made takeaway meals custom-designed for picnics or hikes. Alternatively, make your own picnic from the comfort of your Queenstown holiday home and then make your way to this scenic town for a spot of al fresco lunch.
9. Spend the afternoon tasting world class wine
The microclimate in Queenstown allows for some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world. Have your choice of biking between vineyards on the well-groomed trails, or doing a guided tour to some of the local secret spots. Gibbston Valley and Amisfield give the most in-depth tours and tasting experiences, with Brennan Wines giving wine connoisseurs the option to also design their own picnic to have at the vineyard. After a day of wining and dining, retire to your Queenstown holiday home – perhaps indulging in another glass by the fire!
10. Take a day trip to Milford Sound
Arguably one of the most extraordinary things to do in Queenstown is taking a day trip to Milford Sound. There are options for all budgets, so there is really no excuse not to visit the eighth wonder of the world! A bus tour is the budget-friendly option and lets you take in the sights of the region, along with stopping off at some incredible vantage points along the way. But a worthwhile splurge is a helicopter tour, which gives you indescribable aerial views and you can even land in some of the most picturesque spots one could imagine for an afternoon picnic. You’ll easily find your way to Milford Sound from your Queenstown accommodation.
11. Snowmobile through a winter wonderland
Ever fancied catching a chopper up into the Queenstown back country and embarking on a once in a life-time alpine adventure? Queenstown Snowmobiles offers the only wilderness snowmobiling experience in New Zealand! Snowmobiling is one of the most adrenaline-pumping, action-packed winter adventures one can partake in. With stunning views surrounding you for the duration of the entire experience – think views across to Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and even down to Stewart Island on a clear day. Queenstown Snowmobiles has exclusive access to trails & back country riding, reached only by helicopter. Join them for the ultimate winter experience!
12. Alpine picnics and snow landings
Celebrating something or someone special? Partial to a decent spread, some bubbles and an unforgettable experience? A champagne picnic perched high up on an alpine peak could be just the ticket! The Southern Lakes are absolutely unbeatable when it comes to jaw-dropping scenery, and what better way to enjoy the remarkable views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps than a scenic flight in a helicopter and a snow landing or picnic. Sit back and soak in the tranquility or throw some snow around and enjoy a guaranteed pinch me moment!
Over The Top The Helicopter Company offer a range of exciting flights and activities.
13. Try your hand at horse riding
Glenorchy is a gorgeous area famous for its untouched beauty, and is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and Te Wahipounamu – one of New Zealand’s three World Heritage areas. The area has been showcased in the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as other major blockbuster films. Nestled in the Dart Valley you’ll find Dart River Adventures with more than 60 horses of various breeds and a team of guides with a wealth of experience and knowledge. Meander about on the ‘1 Hour Hobbits Hack’, or embark on river crossings and a longer ride on the ‘2 Hour River Wild’. Enjoy the unforgettable scenery from horse back!
Can’t wait to get to Queenstown? Take a look at our Queenstown holiday homes and plan your escape now!