Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaa! That’s a sound you will often hear as you walk around Queenstown with all of the adventure activities taking place in New Zealand’s, and possibly the world’s adventure capital. Whether it’s jumping out of airplanes, whizzing up rivers, soaring off mountains or jumping off perfectly good ledges with nothing more than a rubber band tied to your legs, there is no doubting that Queenstown is THE place to be if you want high-adrenaline adventure. There is of course, a whole bunch of other stuff to do in and around Queenstown besides near-death experiences and you should definitely make sure you take in all this amazing place has to offer.
To help you out, we’ve put together our top 5 things to do in Queenstown list to help you on your way.
Top 5 things to do in Queenstown
1. Adrenaline-fuelled adventure
We may as well get this one in there straight away as we know it’s what attracts so many people to this beautiful city any time of the year. Queenstown is a place that has a constant buzz about it that comes from new people arriving in town on a daily basis whether it’s Kiwis on their annual skiing holiday, backpackers stopping off on their big tour of the country or overseas visitors who have come to see what all the fuss is about. You can literally do pretty much any type of adventure activity down here depending on the time of year from skiing to parasailing to bungy jumping and everything in between. Here is a list of our top three favourites:
AJ Hackett Bungy – AJ Hackett is the pioneer of bungy jumping in New Zealand and has three sites in Queenstown – Kawarau (the original), The Ledge and The Nevis. All three offer an awesome experience but for us, The Ledge is our favourite because of the stunning backdrop.
Skippers Canyon Jet – marketing themselves as New Zealand’s greatest jet boating adventure, Skippers Canyon Jet will take you up the Skippers Canyon at death defying speed and perilously close to the rocks that line this narrow gorge. It’s a pretty spectacular way to travel this scenic and beautiful canyon and we highly recommend it!
Tandem Skydive – there are many amazing places to do a tandem skydive in New Zealand from Taupo in the North to Franz Josef on the West Coast but we always think that Queenstown is one of the best. The views as you prepare to tumble out of that plane are simply stunning and once you get over the initial shock and your chute has opened successfully, you can really just sit back and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
2. Wine Tasting
If we flip to the complete opposite end of the scale to throwing yourself out of airplanes and off ledges, the wine tasting in and around Queenstown is some of the best in the world so it would be extremely rude not to give it a go! The Central Otago region (of which Queenstown is the major city) is home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir wine. The growing conditions down in the region are perfect for grape growing with fast draining soil and just the right balance of sunshine and temperature to let grapes thrive.
The Central Otago Wine Region
A trip out to visit the Central Otago vineyards is a stunning road trip out to visit place like Gibbston, Bannockburn, Alexandra, Bendigo and Cromwell. These last two places were famous gold mining towns back in the 1800s but it’s a different type of gold that they are mining now – Pinot Noir grapes. All of these towns though offer a chance to take a step back in town and at Bendigo you can even take a walk through a reconstructed mining town. There are heaps of vineyards to choose from down here and we definitely suggest going for lunch and a tasting session (not for the driver though!) and sampling some of the delights of the Central Otago. You can always buy your driver a bottle to say thanks and enjoy it when you get back to Queenstown.
3. Skiing and Snowboarding
This one will obviously depend on the time of year you are visiting the region, however Queenstown is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders alike during the winter months from late May through to October. The ski fields that sit above Queenstown can be accessed by road (with the use of snow chains) making them extremely accessible to skiers of all abilities. Both the Coronet Peak Ski Resort and the Remarkables cater for skiers of all abilities and with the adjoining ski fields of Wanaka also within easy driving distance, this makes Queenstown a great place to be during those winter months.
The views from the mountains are simply stunning and after a full day spent up on the slopes, the city is also a great place to be as the bars and restaurants all crank up their log burners and the beautiful smell of burning logs fills the air. There is nothing quite like a drink by the fire after a day in the snow and we love nothing more than a trip to Queenstown in the winter.
4. Skyline Gondola and Luge
This could almost make it onto our ‘adrenaline-fuelled adventure’ list but it doesn’t have to be so we have given the Skyline Gondola its own place on the list as we think there is nothing better than heading to the top of Bob’s Peak on the Skyline Gondola. It is possible to walk up to the top of Bob’s Peak and this is something we would definitely recommend for those with energy to burn – you get all sorts of different perspectives on your way up and views that you don’t necessarily see from the top.
Once you reach the top and the gondola station, you will find an excellent restaurant and café which may be much needed if you chose to walk up! Here you will also find the start of the luge track; the adrenaline-fuelled adventure part of this trip! After taking all your time to get up to the top of the hill, it almost seems unfair that you can get back down to the bottom so quickly in these gravity defying carts but it is a lot of fun and will make you want to head straight back to the top for another go – for those who like to keep super fit, you can keep doing a loop of running up Bob’s peak and luging down – not for the feint hearted!
5. Walking and hiking
There is a definite theme to the top 5 activities down in Queenstown and that’s definitely ‘active’. Queenstown is definitely a place that makes you want to head out and explore – the scenery all around you makes you want to strap on a pair of hiking boots and go and see what’s going on up these mountains. With two national parks right on the doorstep (Fiordland and Mt Aspiring), if you are keen to get out and do some ‘proper’ tramping, Queenstown is a great place to base yourself. For those who only have a couple of days and are looking to stretch the legs, there are plenty of other tracks, some of which can be hiked without even needing to get in the car and others that require a short trip out.
One thing’s for sure; wherever you walk you will typically be rewarded with amazing views of the lakes and mountains that surround Queenstown and the fresh air will leave you ready for more and make you wonder why you didn’t give yourself more time in the amazing city.
Best of the Rest
As you would expect, in a city with so much going on, picking a top 5 things to do is always going to leave a few things missing off the list. We also love to hear from our GO Rentals customers to hear about your top tips and hidden gems – we will add any of your top tips into our list and maybe even sneak them into our top five depending on how good they are! Here are just a few of the things missing off our top 5:
- White water rafting
- Lord of the Rings tour
- Shotover River
- Lake Hayes
Send us your favourite things to do in Queenstown via our GO Explore Facebook page and we will keep our list up to date!
New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries from Queenstown