Queenstown is located on the South Island of New Zealand and is a very popular spot for tourists and young people who are in the country on a Working Holiday visa. It is a small village in a beautiful area between lakes and mountains. In the summer there is an abundance of activities such as hiking, mountain biking and frisbee golf. In winter you can ski on several surrounding mountains. Queenstown is also known as the “Adventure Capital of the world” because of the many adrenaline activities available here. It doesn’t matter what time of year you are here, there is always plenty to do!
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Must see & do
Adrenaline junkies are in the right place in Queenstown! AJ Hackett has three bungy jumps, two swings, one catapult and a zipline, all in Queenstown. You can also go rafting, get on the water with a jet boat, toboggan, go paraglididing or skydive. Click here for more activities in Queenstown.
If you prefer something a bit more relaxing, try disc golf! There is an 18 hole course in the Queenstown Gardens. Disk golf is similar to traditional golf, but instead of playing with clubs and balls, you have to throw the Frisbee into a “hole.” Discs are available in many hostels and hotels, but can otherwise be rented for a few dollars at the Queenstown Ice arena.
Queenstown is located in a beautiful area and that is of course best viewed from above. Take the skyline gondola to Bob’s Peak, where you can enjoy a panoramic view. Once at the top, there is the possibility to luge on a blood-curdling track, or go down paragliding (you can of course also take the gondola down). AJ Hackett’s Bungy and Swing are also located here. If you have a tight budget, you can also hike up.
Queenstown is full of the most beautiful hikes. Whether you want to walk for an hour or do a challenging multi-day hike, it’s all possible here!
In addition to hiking trails, there are also many places where you can go mountain biking. Queenstown has its own bike park, which can be reached with the Skyline Gondola (you can take your bike up), at the top you have a large amount of downhill trails that you can take. Bicycles can be rented at several places in the village.
Queenstown is a real party spot, perhaps the biggest nightlife area in New Zealand. There are many pubs and clubs and people come to Queenstown because of the nightlife. That is why there is always something to do in the evenings. There are many organised pub crawls, as well as many events and performances by famous artists.
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There are a lot of accommodation options in Queenstown. You can make it as expensive and beautiful as you want. Keep in mind that Queenstown is very popular and during high season you should make sure to book your accommodation in advance.
Haka Lodge – Hostel – €
The Haka Lodges are one of my favourite hostels in New Zealand. They organise various activities to get to know other people. The beds are sturdy and you have your own curtain, lamp, plug and lockable storage space. The Haka Lodge in Queenstown is perfectly situated, everything is within walking distance, but it’s far enough from the nightlife noise. Click here for more information.
Nomads – Hostel – €
This hostel has everything you could possibly need, a large clean kitchen, lounge with fireplace, a pool table and Foosball table, sauna and ski storage. They have a wide choice of different rooms, small and large dormitories, several private rooms, with or without private bathroom and with or without balcony. All dorms have lockers. Free breakfast is included (toast with jam) and they also offer free evening meals, this is not much and you have to get there early but it certainly saves some money. But the best thing about this hostel is the activities, they offer at least one activity every day. Also the location is great, right in the center and close to everything. Click here for more information.
Copthorne Queenstown Lakeview – Hotel & Apartments – €€
This four star hotel is a 10 minute walk from the center of Queenstown. It has a fantastic view of Lake Wakitapu and the mountains. You can choose whether you want a balcony with a view over the lake or the garden. Naturally, the room with a view of the lake is slightly more expensive. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet and an à la carte dinner, they also have a bar where you can enjoy a drink and a snack. They also offer something that is quite special in Queenstown: free underground parking spaces! Click here for more information.
Rydges Queenstown – Hotel – €€
Rydges is a hotel chain with several hotels in New Zealand, all 4 to 4.5 stars. In Queenstown, the hotel is beautifully situated on Lake Wakitapu within walking distance to the center. This hotel has 2 restaurants, a bar, a heated outdoor pool and a sauna. You can choose whether you want a room with a view over the lake. This hotel is a good option for people who regularly book through booking.com as they offer a discount for Genius members. Click here for more information.
This five star resort is also fantastically located on Lake Wakatipu. As the name suggests, they have a spa where you can take massages, but they also have a large fitness center and an indoor pool. The hotel is close to Queenstown Airport, but a little further from the center, about 20 minutes’ drive away. You could also take a water taxi to the center, this takes about 15 minutes. The rooms have everything you can expect from a five star hotel. The smallest rooms are for 2 adults and the largest for 4 adults with 3 children. Click here for more information.
Click here for a full list of accommodation in Queenstown.
Queenstown is located in the southwest of the South Island of New Zealand and is not close to any major cities. Dunedin is about 3.5 hours away and Christchurch about 6 hours, you can take buses from both places. Queenstown, on the other hand, does have an airport. Mainly domestic flights go from Queenstown airport, but also a few to Australia.
Wanaka is about an hour’s drive from Queenstown and is also located on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. This place is seen as the quiet Queenstown, there is less partying here and there are less extreme activities, but it still the stunning nature. Wanaka has more water sports, such as sailing, kayaking and paddle surfing. Here you will find beautiful hiking and cycling areas as well, such as in Mount Aspiring National park. Several winter sports areas can be reached from Wanaka.
Glenorchy is about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown and since the entire road is next to Lake Wakatipu, you have a gorgeous view. There are many hiking trails near Glenorchy, you can go kayaking, but horseback riding tours are also very popular. A little more to the north is Paradise, this is where the Middle Earth scenes of the Lord of the Rings films were filmed, as well as Narnia partially. Take a tour to visit the famous film locations.
Mt Cook is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Queenstown. On the way to Mt Cook you will drive past Lake Pukaki, one of the bluest lakes you will ever see. There is not much in Mount Cook Village itself, but the Hooker Valley Track is a must. This is an easy flat trail that takes about 3 hours and it has spectacular views of Mt Cook as well as glacier fed rivers and a lake. Read more about spectacular day hikes in New Zealand here.
Tekapo is about a 3-hour drive from Queenstown and is also called Lake Tekapo because of a beautiful blue lake. This place belongs to the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, which means it is a great place for stargazing. You can do this from the observatory, the hot springs or simply from the village and surroundings. A very famous place to take pictures of the lake is the Church of Good Shepherd which is close to the lake and is easily accessible from the road. It is also a great stop on your way to Christchurch.
The Frankton Arm Walkway
The Franktown Arm Walkway is a walking route that runs from Queenstown to Frankton along the water. It is a flat route with beautiful views of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. This walking route takes about 1.5 hours one way, you could take the bus back from Frankton.
Zonsopgang Bob’s peak
If, like me, you enjoy watching sunrises and sunsets then this is a great tip for you. Hike up Bob’s Peak (using the Tiki trail) in the early morning to see a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and Queenstown. The sunset can also be seen from the top, for this you could take the gondola up.
Ice Bar & Cowboy Bar
Do you want to see something different when going out? Then I recommend the Ice Bar and Cowboys. The Ice Bar is exactly what the name says, a bar made of ice. See beautiful sculptures while having a drink at -5 ° C. Children are also welcome in this bar. Cowboys is, as the name suggests, a bar entirely in the style of the Wild West, they even have a mechanical rodeo bull. How long can you stay seated?
Roy’s Peak, Wanaka
in Wanaka you can hike to the top of Roy’s Peak in about 5 to 6 hours. During this hike you climb to a height of 1228 meters, so a certain fitness is necessary. This route is only open in the summer months unless you have proper equipment such as ice axes and crampons. Roy’s Peak is one of the most beautiful hikes I have done in New Zealand, at the top you have a view of Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring / Tititea and the surrounding mountains. Read about my other favourite day hikes in New Zealand here.