Queenstown is located on the South Island of New Zealand, on the shores of the lightning bolt that’s Lake Wakatipu, at the base of the majestic Southern Alps. Almost 3 million visitors are drawn to Queenstown every year, making it one of the most popular spots in New Zealand. Some people just visit to breathe in the fresh mountain air, but we guarantee you there are tons of awesome things to do in Queenstown. Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is the perfect spot to get your adrenaline fix. However, there’s more to this resort town than extreme sports. From great festivals to awesome hikes, bike trails, and of course shopping and wellness, Queenstown has it all. Whether it’s summer or winter, the surrounding scenery is simply breathtaking, all year round. Convinced yet?
Note: The photos in this post are taken in the fall.
Here are 7 Awesome Things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand
1. Go Bungy Jumping
Queenstown is the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping. You truly can’t leave without trusting a couple of cords to keep you from jumping to your death. There are three options that we know of, with heights ranging from 43 to a whopping 134 meters. All of them are owned and operated by AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand, the first ones in the world to be awarded the ‘S’ mark for exceptional safety and quality assurance. They’ve had over 1.5 million people jumping or swinging, so you can sleep on both ears.
First, there’s the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the first commercial bungy spot in the world, just 20 minutes from Queenstown. Here you jump off of the Kawarau Bridge towards the stunningly blue water of the Kawarau River, 43 meters below. Bonus: the autumn colored scenery adds to the awesomeness of the experience and your photos. You can opt to jump in tandem and/or touch the water.
Not high enough for you? Then try the Nevis Bungy, if you dare. It’s New Zealand’s highest bungy, situated 45 minutes from Queenstown. If you haven’t gotten cold feet by the time you get there, you’ll be jumping towards the Nevis River that’s flowing 134 meters below you.
Still not epic enough for you? Then lastly there’s the Ledge Bungy, the only night bungy site in New Zealand. Situated 400 meters (not a typo) above Queenstown, the views over the lighted city are spectacular. To make your jump even more epic, you can choose a jumping style from their ‘Jump Menu’: a twist, a flip or a handstand? You name it! Unfortunately this option is only available in winter.
Apart from bungy jumping, there are swings and zip rides too, and recently they’ve built the canyon Fox, a swing with a unique rail launch. You can find all the information and pricing on the AJ Hackett and Shotover websites. Bungy Jumping, it’s over in a second, but you leave with eternal bragging rights!
2. Admire the View from The Remarkables Road
In winter, Queenstown becomes a ski resort. People from all over the country (and world) come down to Queenstown to explore one or more of the four major ski areas. One of them is The Remarkables mountain range. When visiting outside of the snow season, you can hike along the ski lifts and head up The Remarkables Road for a scenic drive. This 13 km gravel road is the highest public-access road you can drive in New Zealand, providing jaw-dropping panoramic views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, against a Southern Alps backdrop. About 6 km into the drive there’s a sharp turn, where you’ll see a trig on top of a small hill on your right. If you don’t plan on hiking The Remarkables, you can turn back here, as the views don’t get much better when going higher.
3. Go Flyboarding
Flyboarding isn’t as popular as bungy jumping yet, but it’s up and coming. If you don’t care about getting wet, this might be the best bang for your buck in Queenstown when it comes to extreme sports. What the hell is flyboarding, I hear you think. Well, you’ll be dressed up in a wetsuit, a life vest, and a helmet, and your feet will be strapped to a fly board. After some onshore training by a certified Flyboard instruction, you’re ready to hit the water. The Flyboard on your feet is connected with a jet ski through a hose. The jet ski will basically push the water through the hose, blasting it out of the jet outlets on the bottom side of your Flyboard, lifting you up in the air. If you manage to keep your balance, you’ll be flying like a superhero above the water. Excited yet?
When we visited, Flyboard Queenstown was the only Flyboard operator in Queenstown.
4. Drive the Queenstown – Glenorchy Scenic Drive
The Queenstown – Glenorchy Scenic Drive follows the upper part of the lightning-shaped Lake Wakatipu, all the way up to Glenorchy. This 46 km winding road takes you along a couple of well-marked stops with gorgeous views. About 28 km from Queenstown, right before 25 Mile Creek, there’s a lesser known, but amazing stop.
You can park on this small unsealed road and walk up right to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. There’s a pebble beach, making this spot perfect for some stone skipping, and a fallen tree conveniently positioned to watch the beautiful colours of the sunset behind the mountains. So romantic!
5. Go on a Jet Boat Ride
Can’t get enough of the adventure activities on offer in Queenstown? Here’s another one for you: a Jet Boat Ride. It’s one of the first adventure activities in the history of Queenstown. There are a ton of options for jet boat rides in Queenstown. Prices only differ slightly, and locations go from the Shotover and the Kawarau River, to even Lake Wakatipu. You’ll be speeding through narrow canyons, zigzagging around boulders, and doing 360° spins, only skimming the water beneath the boat. Hold on tight for that wild ride!
6. Hike the Queenstown Hill Time Walk
The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is a gorgeous 2-hour scenic hike. The first part of the trail zigzags uphill through a pine forest, taking you to the open summit area. Along the path, you can find information plaques telling about the history, present, and future of the area. In the end, there’s the Basket of Dreams, an artwork referring to the future. Beyond the Basket of Dreams, there are 360° jaw-dropping panoramic views. For an even better view, continue your hike to the highest point, the Te Tapunui summit, right where there’s a sign “private land.”
7. Stand in Line for an Hour for an Epic Fergburger
Did all those hikes, views and adrenaline rushes make you hungry too? End the day with an epic burger from Fergburger. Granted, there are waiting times of over an hour, but the burgers are worth it! If you can’t bring yourself to waste time to stand in line for a burger, but want to know what all the fuss is about, try a Fergburger for lunch. Waiting times are supposed to be shorter at noon.
Continuing your explorations beyond Queenstown? Check out our blog post 34 Amazing Things to do on the South Island of New Zealand.
Where to stay in Queenstown, New Zealand
Road tripping through New Zealand? Park your campervan at Queenstown Holiday Park Creeksyde
Creeksyde is a great place to stay overnight if you hired a campervan in Queenstown. It’s centrally located just a 4-minute walk from Queenstown’s vibrant center and the Skyline Gondola and a 6-minute drive from the Shotover Jet. The Coronet Peak Ski Field is 20 minutes’ drive away.
Set in pretty gardens with Horne Creek running alongside, the property offers fully self-contained motel apartments and ensuite rooms with private bathroom facilities. Guests enjoy free parking. Wireless Internet access plans can be purchased from reception or online via the WiFi login page.
Rather go Glamping on a remote location? Get a heli to Mountainhut.nz
The emphasis is on glamping (glamour camping) and simplicity so you can better experience the exhilaration of sleeping high on Mt Larkins with your friends or family. A wood burner fire keeps the hut warm and cozy. Experience tenting or snow caving around the hut.
Want some more luxury? Let yourself get pampered at Matakauri Lodge
Situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers luxury suites and villas, each with a private terrace featuring unspoiled mountain and lake views.
Only a 7-minute drive from the center of Queenstown, and a 15-minute drive from Queenstown International Airport, the Lodge is a wonderful base from which to explore the many experiences and activities for which the town is famed.
Facilities include a luxury day spa, outdoor heated infinity swimming pool with spa pool, and a fully equipped fitness center. The lodge’s stylish shared lounge and dining spaces feature open fireplaces.
Here’s a low-budget and mid-range hotel as well, in case the campsite and glamping hut don’t fit your style or audience:
This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. Located on the lakefront in the center of Queenstown, Absoloot Value Accommodation offers rooms with private bathrooms.
Absoloot Value Accommodation offers a choice of private rooms and dormitories. Every room has an en-suite bathroom and security card entry.
This property is 6 minutes walk from the beach located in central Queenstown. The hotel is a short walk to the local shopping and entertainment areas. Millennium Hotel Queenstown enjoys a central location offering great access to the Coronet Peak, Remarkables, and the Cardrona Ski-fields.
All rooms at Millennium Rooms are air-conditioned with separate seating areas and writing desks. It offers spacious, elegant rooms featuring marble bathrooms. Guests receive complimentary bathroom amenities during their stay.
About the Writer
Brecht and Birthe met each other at the youth movement back in their hometown in Belgium and have been a happy couple for almost eight years. Brecht had started his own internet business, and Birthe was working for a logistics company when Brecht suggested doing a trip around the world. Birthe needed some convincing, but less than a year later they landed in Bangkok.
From there they started their round the world trip, exploring SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and North America, before heading back home exactly 11 months and a week later. Scuba diving and Thai food are just two of the passions they discovered on that epic trip. Although they’re back home now, both working on Brecht’s growing online business, they keep wandering the world from their home base in Belgium, documenting everything on their travel blog Wandering the World.
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