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
- Popular Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Queenstown
- 1- Hike Ben Lomond
- 2- Treat yourself to a Wine Tour
- 3- Raise Your Heartrate on the Shotover Jet
- 4- Ski or Snowboard at The Remarkables
- 5- Go Skiing Again… At Night
- 6- Cool Down at an Ice Bar
- 7- Bike A Local Queenstown Trail
- 8- Reach New Heights On The Gondola
- 9- Wander Around The Botanical Gardens
- 10- Take A Day Trip to Arrowtown
- 11- Get Your Golf Swing On
- 12- Ride On The TSS Earnslaw
- 13- Devour a Burger at Fergburger
- 14- Encounter a Kiwi At The Kiwi Park
- 15- Tackle The Via Ferrata
- 16- Check Out Famous Movie Locations
- 17- Go Bungy Jumping
- 18- Cruise Along The Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail
- 19- Indulge At The Onsen Hot Pools
- 20- Take A Day Trip to Wānaka
Queenstown, New Zealand
- Full Day Milford Sound Experience from Queenstown – a small group, award-winning tour of an incredible natural attraction.
- Shotover River Extreme Jet Boat Ride – get your thrills and an adrenalin rush in nature.
- Queenstown Segway Tour – one of the most popular ways to explore this beautiful southern 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:
- 50-Minute Glacier Explorer Flight from Queenstown
- Pilot’s Choice Scenic Flight from Queenstown
- Milford Sound Fly Cruise Fly ex Queenstown
2- Treat yourself to a Wine Tour
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.
- Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown – Includes 4 Vineyards, Lunch & Wine
- Queenstown Twilight Wine and Craft Beer Tour
- Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Queenstown
- Wine Sampler Tour
3- Raise Your Heartrate on the Shotover Jet
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
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.
- Full-Day Ski the Tasman
- Remarkables Alpine Guided Snowshoeing
- Queenstown Heli-Snowmobiling Adventure
- Privately Guided Remarkables Alpine Mountaineering
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.
Recommended rainy day experiences:
7- Bike A Local Queenstown Trail
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.
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
For more things to do in New Zealand, read: