Queenstown is New Zealand’s top tourist destination and boasts super friendly locals and epic scenery.
Take a helicopter to majestic Milford Sound to see towering mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and wildlife.
Thrillseekers must not miss the Nevis Bungy- the world’s third highest bungee jump.
Hike some of New Zealand’s spectacular trails- there’s something for every fitness level.
Taste award winning wine in the Cromwell region.
Eat all of the food in the many eateries to suit all budgets and tastes.
Hire a campervan and explore even more of the wonderful country.
It’s New Zealand’s top tourist destination, and it’s not tough to see why. Yet despite the influx of tourists the town sees year round, Queenstown remains one of the loveliest places to visit thanks to the super friendly locals and their laid back attitude, and of course the epic scenery. So if you’re in town to explore, whether on the slopes in winter or in the heat of summer, here’s how to make the most of your time in town.
1. Fly High To Milford Sound
Image: Kristin Bonner
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without visiting the majestic Milford Sound. This deep fjord surrounded by towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and home to fur seals, dolphins and penguins is a wilderness experience not easily forgotten. You can take a day trip there via bus and boat, or, for an even more spectacular experience, jump aboard an Over The Top helicopter for a flight over rugged peaks and glaciers to the fjord. Over The Top have been running helicopter experiences since 1986, and operate flights that take you to Milford Sound for a boat journey on the fjord, and you could even land on a glacier on the way home! Flights are weather dependant, so it’s best to book yours in for one of your first days in Queenstown incase it needs to be rescheduled due to rain or strong winds. If you’re visiting in winter, the generally clear days make this one of the best times for a heli flight, though they do operate year round.
2. Take A Dive At The Nevis Bungy - Third Highest In The World!
Thrill-seekers pay attention, for the Nevis Bungy is not for the faint hearted. New Zealand’s highest bungee jump, and the third highest in the world, Nevis is 134 metres high, with an 8.5 second free fall.
Where: Depart from Queenstown Bungy Centre for a 4WD bus out to the site
3. Hit The Hiking Trail
New Zealand is filled with spectacular hiking trails for all levels of fitness, and Queenstown is the ideal starting point. The mountains around town are the first place to start, lined with steep trails reaching summits and spectacular views. For a gentle stroll any time of year, head for trails along Lake Wakatipu or Lake Hayes. Right in the heart of town you’ll find a challenge with the trails that lead to Queenstown Hill, Ben Lomond and even in the Remarkables, while further afield, Wanaka, Arrowtown and Mount Aspiring National Park also have great hiking and biking. If you’re visiting in winter, many trails will be covered in snow and many closed, so switch your boots for cross country skis or stick to the lower elevations.
4. Seek Thrills On A Jet Boat Ride In Skippers Canyon
Can you even go to New Zealand and not go on a jet boat ride? There are plenty of places to whirl around in the white water in New Zealand, but Skippers Canyon just outside of Queenstown has got to be the best. Situated deep in the historic Skippers Canyon, getting to the boat is half of the adventure! You’ll be picked up from town and taken deep into the canyon along the Skippers Canyon Road, carved out of the vertical rock face over 120 years ago. The jet boat ride itself takes you through some of the narrowest canyons on the Shotover River, making this a super charged experience. Bring your spray jacket and a sense of fun!
Skippers Canyon Jet
Where: Departures leave from the Station Building, corner of Shotover and Camp Streets in town
5. Taste New Zealand's Award Winning Wine
The South Island is famous for its wines, and Queenstown is in the heart of Central Otago, the world’s southernmost winemaking region. The most famous grape grown here is pinot noir, while chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling are also popular. While most vineyards are in the Cromwell region, just under an hour from Queenstown, there are a handful just outside of town between Queenstown and Arrowtown.
6. Eat All Of The Food
As a general rule New Zealand has exceptional food. Even the meat pies you find in BP service stations are gourmet. It’s great. But if you’re after something more sit-down, Queenstown has plenty of excellent eateries for all budgets and tastes. Try these:
Bespoke Kitchen, for seriously good hotcakes and baked goods
Where: 9 Isle Street Queenstown
Vudu Cafe, for healthy, delicious salads and meals
Where: 16 Rees Street, Queenstown
Fergburger, for burgers!
Where: 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown
The World Bar and Restaurant, for relaxed beers and Mexican style food
Where: 12 Church Street, Queenstown
7. Explore Arrowtown
Just a 20-minute drive from Queenstown is this adorable, historic village. Walking down Arrowtown’s main street you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into the set of Westworld or somewhere in America’s Midwest. You’ll find quaint boutiques, delicious eats, and all of the beautiful tree-lined streets and dream cottages. While you’re in town be sure to grab brekky or lunch at The Chop Shop, a hidden, industrial style cafe that serves up an eclectic menu that’s sure to fill you up and the most delicious coffee in town.
Where: The Chop Shop, 44 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown
Hours: 8am - 3pm daily
9. Rent A Campervan And Explore Further
Hiring a campervan has got to be one of the best ways to explore New Zealand. Hit the road with everything you need in the back and explore epic landscapes like Wanaka, Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo and more!