Top 10 Queenstown Tourist Attractions
Queenstown is one of the best spots from which to explore the South Island. The town has a fantastic supply of beautiful scenery, culture, and exciting activities. We’ve put together a list of the ten best Queenstown tourist attractions. But honestly, this list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in this dynamic and beautiful place. Here’s just a sampling of the most interesting Queenstown tourist attractions.
1. Steam Across Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s third-largest lake, but its elongated finger shape makes it the country’s longest. It is 80 kilometers long, stretching from the Dart River on the north end to Kingston on the south. Along the way, it winds its way through the Southern Alps, passing the city of Queenstown and the mountain range known as The Remarkables. It’s also a very deep lake, with a maximum depth of around 380 meters.
The TSS Earnslaw is a 51-meter, vintage 1912 steamer that travels Lake Wakatipu. You can hop onboard the Earnslaw in Queenstown for the short trek to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. The farm has horse treks, tours, and lunch or dinner.
2. Skiing or Snowboarding At The Remarkables
Just south of town and on Lake Wakatipu’s southeastern shore, you’re sure to notice The Remarkables. This mountain range dominates the landscape and creates a beautiful backdrop for everything you see and do around Queenstown. Skiers and snowboards love these peaks. The hub of activity is at The Remarkables Ski Area.
The highest point in The Remarkables is Single Cone, which is 2,319 meters above sea level. No one is exactly certain how they were named. Some say they were given their name in 1857 by Alexander Garvie, who noted that these are one of only two mountain ranges oriented precisely north to south. Others believe that early settlers simply thought the view was “remarkable.”
3. Take the Skyline Gondola to the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve
Ben Lomond is a tall peak to the northwest of Queenstown. The 1,748-meter tall summit is named after a similar peak located in Scotland. Several tracks head up the mountain, and a few of them are easy grades that link nearby towns. The main track follows the ridgeline and becomes very steep as it approaches the summit. At the mountain base is the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve, which has walking and biking paths.
The best way to get up to Ben Lomond is the Skyline Gondola. The Skyline is the steepest gondola ride in the southern hemisphere, and it leaves Queenstown for the 450-meter ascent to Bob’s Peak. From there, you can set out on the Tiki Trail, a steep hiking trail that connects up the mountain. The views from the Skyline and the hiking trails are not to be missed.
4. Take a Time Walk on Queenstown Hill
Compared to some of the majestic peaks surrounding it, 907-meter tall Queenstown Hill might not seem that impressive. The hill sits on the northeast side of town and has several hiking tracks that take you to the summit.
The tracks lead you through the Time Walk, which was created to commemorate the new millennium in 2000. The three-hour walk has informational signs about the history of the area. At the top, you’ll see the sculpture Basket of Dreams by Caroline Robinson. The views from the top of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu are spectacular!
5. Go Wine Tasting
New Zealand is famous for its wines, and the Queenstown area has plenty of wineries to explore and tour. Right in town, you will find The Winery, a tasting room with plenty to choose from that you can walk to if you’re staying in town. East along the Kawarau River, you’ll find several more wineries, like the Chard Farm Winery and the Gibbston Valley Winery. The area south of the river, Gibbston Valley, is New Zealand’s wine country. The beautiful countryside is dotted with vineyards and wineries, enough to keep exploring for many days.
6. Relax in the Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown is hardly a bustling metropolis, but the Gardens are peaceful even by this town’s standards. This park is a botanical garden with exotic and native plants and trees. There’s also a large pond and stunning views of Lake Wakatipu. If you’d like to get a little more activity, the Gardens feature New Zealand’s oldest disk golf course. There’s a playground for the little ones and tennis, biking, skating, and hockey facilities.
The best thing about the Gardens is their location. They sit on a small peninsula right in town, which juts into the harbor on the lake’s shores. Many years ago, this was the site of a Maori tribe. The gardens were established in 1867.
7. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping on the Kawarau River
The Kawarau River flows east out of Lake Wakatipu. The terrain is rough. For much of its length, the river passes through impressive steep gorges. The river has long been a draw for thrill-seekers. Bungee jumping hit the world stage right here, from the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. At 43 meters from the water, you can experience it for yourself. Other activities on the river include riverboarding, jet boating, and white water rafting.
8. Take a Cruise or Road Trip to Milford Sound
The Southern Alps and deep fiords mark the western coastline of the South Island. For the best views, head for Fiordland National Park. The scenery here has earned this place top honors in many must-see lists. In 2008, Milford Sound was ranked one of the world’s top destinations by Tripadvisor. It’s also been called the eighth wonder of the world. You can get there via State Highway 94, making Milford Sound one of the most accessible fiords along the coast. You can set out in your car or by tour bus.
Once at the sound, hop onboard one of the many sightseeing cruises. The sound is home to seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback, and southern right whales. The steep mountains cut steeply into the sound’s deep waters, with many beautiful waterfalls to see along the way.
9. Bike the Queenstown Trail
The Queenstown Trail winds along the pretty shores of Lake Wakatipu and connects the towns of Queenstown, Arrowtown, and Jack’s Point. It’s around 110 kilometers long, but it twists along the coastline to connect many areas of public lands. At points, it crosses working farms and private property. Unlike many of the mountain tracks, this trail is mostly level and perfect for biking.
10. Connect with Nature at the Kiwi Birdlife Park
The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a conservation and education organization located right in Queenstown. The family-owned five-acre facility allows guests to get a close-up view of New Zealand’s most famous animal, the kiwi. But during your visit, you’ll see much more than just the adorable kiwis. You’ll also see the tuatara, lizards, fish, and many other species of native bird. They provide a free audio tour and allow you to stroll around the ground, but conservationists are on hand for interactions and shows. This is an active rehabilitation center and not a zoo or animal park. They have a small cafe and are wholly supported by their visitors.
There are many Queenstown tourist attractions and activities, from sophisticated wine sipping and adventure exploration. It’s the perfect spot to start exploring the South Island and all of its wondrous scenery. When coming to Queenstown, reserve a holiday home rental with Bachcare and stay right in town in the center of it all.