20 Things To Do In Queenstown

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Queenstown is the undisputable Adventure Capital of New Zealand. A small city in Central Otago, towards the bottom of the South Island, it sits on the edge of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, and stunning mountain ranges surround it. Combine that with the pleasant climate, wineries and endless outdoor activities, creating plenty of things to do in Queenstown, you can’t go wrong with a visit.

Just over 13,000 people live in Queenstown, but it’s visited by many more tourists every year. New Zealanders and visitors from further afield can’t wait to plan a holiday in Queenstown. I’m no exception to this, either, as when I spent six months living in the South Island, I travelled to Queenstown any chance that I got. I have spent a lot of time hiking the trails around Queenstown and dancing the night away at some of the best bars.

Despite regularly spending weekends and evenings there, I still feel like I haven’t seen the whole city. There’s so much to see and do there, so to help you plan your Queenstown trip, I’ve compiled a list of 20 things you must do in Queenstown.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Looking for things to do in Queenstown? You’ll find something for everyone in this stunning NZ city.

20 Things To Do In Queenstown

1- Hike Ben Lomond

To get a good look at Queenstown from a different angle and take in some of the incredible scenery surrounding this city, you can’t go wrong with a hike up Ben Lomond.

You can approach this hike in a few different ways, depending on how long you’ve got.

If you’ve got an advanced level of fitness, and a whole day to spare, then hike to the summit of the mountain.

It’s 1748m above sea level, and while you might sweat a lot on the way up, I promise the view is worth it.

If you’ve got less time or are not ready for such an intense climb, hike the lower part of the trail up to the saddle.

This is also incredible, and you’ll get breathtaking views from here. 

This hike starts from 53 Brecon Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand. 

Another way to see breathtaking views is to go on a flightseeing tour: 

2- Treat yourself to a Wine Tour

Closeup of unknown farmer swirling white wine in a wineglass on his farm
Wine tasting is one of the top 10 things to do in Queenstown.

New Zealanders might not have been making wine for as long as the Europeans, but we’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Central Otago, the region that Queenstown is located in, is one of the best places in New Zealand for Pinot Noir grapes, and plenty of vineyards are worth looking at.

Booking a wine tour is a great way to spend a day in Queenstown.

You can choose from various companies with different offers and join a group as you visit different wineries and cellars.

Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, grab a sober driver and make your own itinerary to check out some of these brilliant spots.

Recommended tours:

3- Raise Your Heartrate on the Shotover Jet

Shotover River Extreme Jet Boat Ride in Queenstown, New Zealand
Riding a jet boat down the Shotover River is one of the fun things to do in Queenstown.

The Shotover River used to be mined for gold, but now it’s a place to visit for a thrill.

The River is 75km (46.6 miles) long, full of rapids and canyons, and feeds water towards Lake Wakitipu, the lake on the edge of Queenstown.

To get an adrenaline rush and take in some beautiful scenery at the same time, jump on a tour with the Shotover Jet.

On the boat, you’ll go up to 90km (56 miles) per hour and spin 360 degrees in the water.

This activity certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted.

The Shotover Jet is at 3 Arthurs Point Road, Arthurs Point, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand. Reserve your seat on the jet boat here. 

If you’re looking for a calmer experience on the water, book these cruises:

4- Ski or Snowboard at The Remarkables

Remarkables Ski Resort chair lifts
Going skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing are some of the best things to do in Queenstown in winter. Here’s the Remarkables Ski Area.

If you’re visiting Queenstown in the winter, don’t miss the chance to ski or snowboard the neighbouring mountains.

The Remarkables are easy to get to from Queenstown, and whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s something for everyone here.

At the Remarkables, you’ll find over 380 hectares (939 acres) of snow to ski on, cafes, bars, and excellent facilities for hiring gear or booking lessons.

From the mountainside, you can look down onto Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown City, which provides a brilliant view.

This ski resort is at The Remarkables Ski Area, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.


5- Go Skiing Again… At Night

Queenstown is home to the first commercial ski field in New Zealand, and today Coronet Peak is still operating.

While you might have skied before, try night skiing for a taste of something different.

Every Wednesday and Friday night through winter, and on a few other select occasions, Coronet Peak turns all the lights on, gets the pizza oven going, and puts the DJ to work.

You can ski all day and then keep skiing even when the sun has set.

Night Skiing goes from 4 pm to 9 pm, so don’t miss out.

This ski resort is at Coronet Peak Ski Area, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand.

6- Cool Down at an Ice Bar

Believe it or not, Queenstown is home to not one but three different ice bars! These bars, all located in the city centre, are almost entirely made of ice.

The bars are packed with tonnes of clear ice architecture and kept at very low temperatures to avoid melting.

Put on your jacket, and head into town to try an ice-cold drink, out of an ice glass, in an ice bar.

Or perhaps, try one at all three of the ice bars so that you can compare the experiences.

7- Bike A Local Queenstown Trail

Guided eBike Tour 'Ride to the Sky'

If you’re visiting in summer, you might want to swap the skis and ice for something warmer.

In that case, check out some of the great bike trails around Queenstown.

You can’t go wrong with riding the Frankton Track & Kelvin Peninsula Trail, which stretches 15km around the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

While you’re riding, you’ll be able to view the lake, the mountains, and the cityscape, all from different angles.

If you’re up for more of a challenge, add the Jack’s Point Trail onto the Kelvin Peninsula Trail.

This is an extra 12km, and it’s not as easy, featuring some tight corners and steep descents.

Despite that, it’s a great way to get out to see a different part of Queenstown, and you’ll go right by the Jack’s Point Golf Course.

Recommended tours:

8- Reach New Heights On The Gondola

If you’re visiting Queenstown, don’t miss a chance to ride the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Queenstown Skyline Gondola takes you 480m (1574ft) above Queenstown, allowing you to check out the city from a different perspective.

It leaves right from the city’s edge, so getting to the base and heading on up is easy.

As well as the stunning views around Queenstown, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the bar or restaurant at the top.

And if you don’t feel like taking the Gondola back down again, you can always buy a ticket to the luge and race your friends to the bottom.

Skyline Queenstown is at 53 Brecon Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.

9- Wander Around The Botanical Gardens

Queenstown Gardens New Zealand
Wandering around the Botanic Gardens is one of the top things to do in Queenstown for green thumbs.

If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in Queenstown, there’s no better way to spend it wandering around the Botanical Gardens.

The Gardens are located on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and the city centre.

Many different trails are spread out through the gardens, and various artworks, sculptures, and restaurants are nearby.

The gardens also look different with each season, so you can go repeatedly and still be surprised.

Recommended tour: Half-Day Queenstown Photography Tour

10- Take A Day Trip to Arrowtown

View over Arrowtown in NZ
Visiting Arrowtown is one of the things to do near Queenstown New Zealand.

While in Queenstown, spread your wings a little further, and consider a day trip out to Arrowtown.

Arrowtown is only 25 minutes away from Queenstown by car, but when you get there, it can feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time.

Many buildings there date back to the 1870s when Arrowtown was a bustling town full of gold miners seeking their fortunes.

As well as the buildings on the main street, you can also visit the Chinese Village, which has been accurately restored.

Recommended tour: Arrowtown and Wanaka Highlights Tour from Queenstown

11- Get Your Golf Swing On

If you’re looking for somewhere to play golf, look no further than Queenstown.

The city boasts six golf courses, three of which are championship Marquee courses.

While not all of the golf courses are open to the public, and some require exclusive membership, there are plenty that you can play at without joining.

Consider a day at Millbrook Golf Course or Jack’s Point Golf Course, where casual players are welcome.

Queenstown’s golf courses have hosted international players and tournaments, so they’re definitely up to scratch.

12- Ride On The TSS Earnslaw

The Steamship TSS Earnslaw On Lake Wakatipu New Zealand
Going for a cruise on the steamship TSS Earnslaw is one of the best things to do in Queenstown.

When walking around the Queenstown lakefront, it’s hard to miss the sight of the TSS Earnslaw.

This boat has been running since 1921 and is one of the world’s oldest and largest coal-fired steamships.

While it used to take trips around Lake Wakitipu, ferrying people to areas of the lake shore, they couldn’t otherwise reach; now it’s purely a leisure cruise vessel.

When you step on board, you can smell the coal burning and see the steam coming out the top of the boat.

You can then cruise around Lake Wakitipu, taking in Queenstown’s iconic sights from on top of the water.

The TSS Earnslaw departs from Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown.

Recommended tour: TSS Earnslaw & BBQ Buffet Lunch

13- Devour a Burger at Fergburger

If you’re looking for a tasty treat, then look no further than Fergburger.

This burger joint is in the heart of downtown Queenstown, and it’s been known for making incredible burgers since 2001.

Fergburger is always trending on Instagram, and their juicy, mouthwatering burgers do taste as good as they look.

They have a few standard flavours, but the chefs often update the menu, so you can often taste something new and exciting.

Fergburger has now expanded into a bakery and an ice cream parlor, so if you’re craving a kiwi classic pie, or something cold, stop in next door.

Fergburger is at 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.

You may also like this: Queenstown Beer Tour

14- Encounter a Kiwi At The Kiwi Park

Queenstown isn’t just adventure sports, and if you’re looking for something slightly mellower, take a trip to Kiwi Park.

Queenstown’s Kiwi Park is a wildlife refuge with over 20 species of native birds, and it’s located just on the edge of the downtown area.

The land this Park is built on used to be a rubbish collection area, but now it’s a sanctuary for injured and recovering birds and reptiles from around New Zealand.

It’s worth visiting, and you’ll be able to see live, rare Kiwi birds and other curious creatures.

Depending on the time of day you visit, you can participate in several activities, including the must-see Conservation Show.

Kiwi Park Queenstown is at 51 Brecon Street, 9300, New Zealand.

15- Tackle The Via Ferrata

Queenstown is home to New Zealand’s only Via Ferrata trails, and down here, you’ll find more than 300m (984ft) of “Iron Pathway” to explore.

Via Ferratas are becoming increasingly popular overseas, and you’ll find a lot of them in countries like Italy and Austria.

It’s a hybrid trail, somewhere between hiking and rock climbing, allowing you to explore a whole new area.

You’ll need Via Ferrata equipment, including a helmet, appropriate shoes, a climbing harness, and a Via Ferrata rope set to tackle this challenge.

Also, if you’re afraid of heights, you might want to miss this one.

You can find the Queenstown Via Ferrata track at 39 Camp Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.

You may also like these adventure tours:

Tasman Glacier Heli Hike (Mount Cook)

16- Check Out Famous Movie Locations

New Zealand is famous for being the movie set for the Lord of the Rings films, but did you know that many other movies have been filmed here too?

A lot of filming takes place around Queenstown because the locations are so striking and so iconic.

Some other movies shot here include Mission Impossible 6, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Water Horse.

If you want to check out some of these famous locations, you can either sign up for a guided tour or do some online research and then rent a car for the day, taking yourself around these exciting places.

Either way, you’re sure to have a great time.

Recommended tour: Lord of the Rings Scenic Half-Day Tour

17- Go Bungy Jumping

This is another activity that isn’t for the faint-hearted!

New Zealander AJ Hacket first invented Bungy Jumping as he dreamed up this crazy idea in the late 1980s.

While the first-ever Bungy Jump was from the Eiffel Tower, the first commercial operation was set up shortly after in Queenstown.

The Kawerau Gorge Suspension Bridge Bungy Jump is the first commercial Bungy Jump in the world, and it sits a massive 43m (141ft) above the river level.

If you feel like getting your blood pumping and your heart racing, we can’t think of a better way than diving off this bridge while connected to a giant elastic cord – crazy!

The AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Centre is at Gibbston Valley, Queenstown 9384, New Zealand.

18- Cruise Along The Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail

Dunstan Lake

Only opened in the last few years, the 55km Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail is a real highlight of the extended Queenstown area.

It starts outside the small town of Cromwell and winds along the shores of Lake Dunstan, the Kawarau River, and through the Cromwell Gorge.

It’s a great track to cycle on an e-bike, and you’ll find plenty of places to rent these bikes, either in Queenstown or Cromwell itself.

Once you’re on the trail, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding area, and you can even stop halfway along for a coffee and a burger on the Coffee Afloat Coffee Boat!

This cycle trail starts at Cromwell Heritage Precinct, Melmore Terrace, Cromwell 9310, New Zealand.

Recommended tour: Lake Dunstan Cycleway Bike Rental And Return Shuttle

19- Indulge At The Onsen Hot Pools

The Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools are one of the area’s most Instagrammed places, famous for providing a relaxing experience in front of a jaw-dropping view.

The small, intimate hot tubs overlook the Shotover River and provide a true luxury experience.

In 2021, Onsen Queenstown won the World Luxury Spa Awards.

If you’re planning a spa day here, make sure that you book in advance.

Onsen is very popular, so you don’t want to miss out.

Onsen Hot Pools are located at 162 Arthurs Point Road, Arthurs Point, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand.

20- Take A Day Trip to Wānaka

crown range road wanaka to queenstown new zealand
Taking a day trip over the Crown Range is one of the best things to do in Queenstown to explore beyond the city.

Another great thing to do while you’re in Queenstown is to take a day trip over the Crown Range to Wānaka.

While I know this isn’t technically in Queenstown, it’s so close that you shouldn’t miss out.

Wānaka is a smaller town than Queenstown, but there’s so much to see and do here; it probably deserves its own article!

Here, you can visit some fantastic cafes and restaurants, enjoy a few incredible day hikes, wineries and breweries, and spend time at the picturesque lake.

Take the time to wander around the lake, and you’ll see the world-famous “Wānaka Tree” – seemingly growing straight out of the water.

Book your private transfers from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka.

For more things to do in New Zealand, read:

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Sarah Hyde was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Now based in Innsbruck, Austria, she is getting out to experience Europe every chance she gets. When Sarah was in high school she spent a year living in Toronto, Canada, and hasn't stopped travelling since. She has explored India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and spent several months of 2020 in Covid lockdown in the village of Sidi Kaouki, Morocco. After hiking Te Araroa, New Zealand, in 2022 she developed a love for solo-hiking and thinks it's one of the best ways to really get to know a new country! Since then, she has gone on to hike Rota Vicentina in Portugal, and Haute Route from Switzerland to France, two incredible adventures. When she's not travelling, you’ll find her writing or reading. Sarah has a Bachelor of Communication Studies from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, as well as a law degree.