Queenstown Travel Guide: The Best Things to See and Do During Your Holiday
Surrounded by crystal lakes, snow capped mountains and lush hiking trails, Queenstown is one of the most magical places in the world. It is a natural playground to anyone who appreciates great beauty and there are a range of sights to see and things to do around every corner.
Known as the adrenaline capital of the world, Queenstown is a dream to anyone craving adventure and is home to a huge choice of activities including jet boating, bungy jumping, white water rafting, mountain biking, skydiving, hiking, paragliding and luging!
If you crave a more relaxing getaway, Queenstown's top spas, yoga studios,golf courses, boat tours, restaurants and bars will help make your holiday as wonderful as possible.
Queenstown attracts tourists during every season. From skiing the slopes in the winter to white water rafting the rivers in the summer, each season provides its own unique benefit to Queenstown; you can never go bored! We were lucky to get to Queenstown late spring, which meant that we got to experience the beauty of the snow capped mountains surrounding Queenstown while simultaneously wearing a T-shirt and shorts to hike up a lush green mountain.
GETTING TO QUEENSTOWN
We drove from Franz Josef so we were able to pass the beautiful city of Wanaka and see the crystal clear lakes at the base of the large mountain ranges. Driving in New Zealand was the best decision we had ever made. One is usually alone on a wide stretch of road and you are constantly surrounded by such natural beauty that it's hard to tell exactly how much time has passed.
PLACES TO STAY
We spent a good amount of time in Queenstown so we wanted to experience a few different hostels. The first hostel was called Adventure Queenstown. It was one of the best hostels we had the pleasure of staying in. As the most central location in town, you are minutes walking distance from everything. They run in-house travel activities every night of the week making it easy to meet people and the front desk is more than happy to find you the best deals for organized tours and activities. We loved them so much that we stayed at their sister hostel, Adventure Q2 Queenstown during the last leg of our stay.
The third place we stayed at was called Absoloot Value. Located right on the water, Absoloot has the best views of the mountain range and lake from the kitchen! Right outside the doors are some of the best bars and restaurants in Queenstown with a wonderful farmers market every Sunday.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN
With some of the best teachers coming in from all over the world, Yoga Nadi is the best way to start your mornings. Whether you want to book a vinyasa class or dynamic hatha, you can book the day of either online or through the Mind and Body App.
Take a morning run or walk around Queenstown Gardens. The path leads to a few benches around the park where you can take a nice bike ride or visit the tennis courts overlooking the water front.
Particularly renowned for its majestic beauty, Queenstown’s locals and visitors absolutely adore walking, cycling, and picnicking along the lake’s elongated shores. You can rent a kayak or take a jetboat along the lake and take in the gorgeous mountains that surround you.
Hike up Queenwtown Hill to the top of the gondola and have a drink at the top! You can get round trip tickets on the gondola if hiking isn't really your thing and still get the best views of the mountains. The hiking path up is called the Tiki Trail which is a self guided trek leading you to the best panoramic views of Queenstown.
Once you're at the top you can participate in some awesome luging which is essentially go carting down the mountain. It's crazy fun and we both raced each other about 8 times.
You can get your gondola and luging tickets at the base of the mountain with skyline gondola. Before embarking on our long hike up, we noticed that they were giving away free hamburgers..so you never know what surprises they may have there!
If you're into mountain biking, Queenstown Hill has some awesome trails down the mountain with a cool terrain park situated in the middle.
If it's on the bucket list, this is the place to cross it off. Queenstown has some of the best skydiving and bungee jumping spots in the world.
For skydiving, we would recommend waiting until the winter so that you can get the full view of the snow capped mountains and lakes.
There are a few renowned bungee jumping spots all over. The Nevis Bungee and swing is strewn between the rugged hills on the banks of the Nevis River, and is the highest decent in all of New Zealand. visitors to the Nevis Bungy and Swing in Queenstown are faced with the highest descent in all of New Zealand.
We decided to go with the Shotover Canyon Swing. Which, if you're looking to go down with a view, this is your place. Set more than 100-metres above the turquoise waters of the Shotover River, this swing-style pendulum descent offers a totally different adrenaline rush.
We were harnessed in on the protruding platform before being cast from the side in a variety of different ways, crashing 60m into the heart of the canyon and then swinging sideways through the gorge. The best thing about the shotover swing is that you can choose which way you want to jump.
The guys who coax you into jumping are crazy but friendly and rate your "leap of choice" on the fear factor. For the record, I absolutely hate the idea of bungee jumping and Brendan had just gotten out of the hospital a few hours prior and yet we both jumped twice...
Brendan went first with "The Superman" jump. They strapped him in, gave him a few instructions and within a matter of seconds he was plunging forward 109m over the canyon.
My first jump was scaled quite low on the fear factor but I thought it was a nice ease into the whole idea of hurling your body over a cliff. I did "the cutaway" which is where they harness you into a sitting position and swing you over the canyon so that your legs are swinging over the air before pulling the pin and you free fall downwards.
Brendan showed off a bit with his second jump and did a double back flip over the canyon without so much as flinching. With my second jump, the staff somehow convinced me to do a trust fall backwards....although you can see from the footage that I was not as obliging as they made me out to be.
Day trip to Wanaka
Take a trip up to Lake Wanaka. Whether you drive there or take a bike, the scenery will have you stopping every ten minutes to take it all in. Out there you can rent a kayak and go out on the lake with a few beers or spend your day at the golf course!
We weren't able to fit this into our itinerary, but if you have the time, the long trail to Roy's Peak gives you the best views of New Zealand. It's a long and relatively difficult hike, so be sure to pack some reliable hiking boots.
Day trip to the Milford Sound
The Milford Sound is one of the most incredible sights to visit in New Zealand. There are a few companies that do organized boat tours throughout the Sound where you can get up close to lush waterfalls and spot seals, penguins and dolphins!
People flock to the Milford Sound to plan out 4 day hiking trips to get the best views. If you're up to it, you can split up your adventure and hike and kayak the Milford Sound in a week's time.
Queenstown was definitely a highlight of the South Island for us. Constantly surrounded by beauty, amazing restaurants and plenty of activities, it's easy to tell why Queenstown is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.