Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand

Last Updated on September 17, 2018 by Natasha Amar

Thinking about what to do in Queenstown? New Zealand’s incredibly picturesque and famous adventure hub Queenstown isn’t just for adrenalin seekers. Of course, when you’re there, surrounded by adventure addicts and plenty of adventure tours, you can’t help but feel a tad more dare-devilish than you usually would. Rightly, Queenstown activities are centered around adventure but there’s a lot to do if you love nature minus the thrills. I should know- I’ve spent a lifetime being afraid of heights and I jumped off a cliff to paraglide in Queenstown.

There’s just something cool and laidback about Queenstown, it’s one of those towns where it doesn’t matter whether you want to spend your time chasing a new adventure like jet boating or bungee jumping every day or simply enjoy the trails around and evenings at the cozy cafés and pubs, you’ll enjoy Queenstown anyway. If you’ve got a couple of days to spend in the town and like a healthy mix of adventure and relaxation, here are my favorite top things to do in Queenstown New Zealand.

Your guide to the top things to do in Queenstown New Zealand and your adventure bucketlist in the Adventure Capital of the World.
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Things To Do in Queenstown New Zealand

Enjoy the View at Lake Wakatipu

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu

Walk, run, cycle, Segway, or simply grab a spot on one of the benches by Lake Wakatipu, the gorgeous Queenstown attraction, that looks even better if you’re lucky to have it as your window view. Whether or not you choose to get your perfect postcard shot from the shore, one thing’s for sure- you’ll want to come back here more than once.

Get on a Luge at Skyline Gondola

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Luge at Skyline Gondola

For fantastic views and one of the coolest activities in Queenstown, take a Gondola ride all the way to the top of Bob’s Peak in the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere. At Skyline Gondola, the adventurous can choose from a range of activities such as bungee jumping, paragliding, zip lining, mountain biking, and for those who prefer carefree fun over gut wrenching thrills, the luge is a great activity to unleash your inner child and enjoy the scenery from the slopes. Market Kitchen is a great restaurant to grab some lunch during your visit.

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Skyline Gondola
Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Lunch with a view

Paraglide over an Incredible View

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Paragliding over Lake Wakatipu

If you were to ask me how I managed to paraglide in Queenstown despite my paralyzing fear of heights, I’d have to admit that it was the thought of overcoming the fear and having my mind blown by the spectacular landscape below. While visiting Skyline Gondola, I walked up to the tiny G-Force Paragliding store and signed up. Then, I stopped thinking for fear of chickening out. 30 minutes later, I was soaring over Lake Wakatipu with not the slightest trace of fear but a deep sense of amazement. I highly recommend that if you’re visiting Queenstown and even if you do fear heights, don’t think twice before signing up.

But if that’s still not your thing, you can also take a scenic heli-flight to enjoy unbeatable views over Queenstown.

Wine Tasting

The Central Otago region is favorable for production of wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and there are many scenic wineries (such as Gibbston Valley) around Queenstown that you can visit for tastings. If you like the idea of a wine and lunch tour in gorgeous vineyards, this half-day wine tour is a fun thing to do in Queenstown.

Alternatively, you can also enjoy wine tasting at The Winery, a wine lounge right in the center of town, where you get to taste over 80 local wines from all over New Zealand with a seriously indulgent platter of cheeses, salamis, breads and olive oils. The best part is that you can even choose to buy any wines that you particularly like to be shipped home when you’re back from your trip.

Step into William’s Cottage

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
William’s Cottage

Now home to Vesta Design Store, William’s Cottage is Queenstown’s oldest house, built in 1864 by boatman and shipbuilder John Williams. Many of the original elements of the house remain such as the wallpaper. Even if you don’t plan on buying the cool, quirky and kitschy merchandise on sale, it’s worth taking a stroll inside and afterwards stopping for a coffee in the garden café outside.

Take a Day Trip to Milford Sound

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Milford Sound

You can’t come to Queenstown and not take a day-trip to Milford Sound, yet another spectacular landscape (no exaggeration) in the heart of Fiordland National Park. If you don’t want to drive the four-five hour long journey, take a Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk from Te Anau group tour (like we did) where you’ll spend time on a bus, hike through a short trail and cruise around Milford Sound watching dolphins, if you’re lucky. If you like the idea of kayaking in Milford Sound and are lucky to have good weather, this Cruise and Kayak tour is a good choice. Alternatively, if you have enough time, go on a guided half-day hike on Milford Track.

If you want some help with making up your mind about the tour, check out my Milford Sound photos.

Hike around Queenstown


Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand

Just like everywhere else in New Zealand, a scenic tramping trail is never too far away in Queenstown and whether you prefer a hardcore trek or an easy hike, there are plenty of options to suit your preference such as the Routeburn Valley, Milford Track, Ben Lomond Track, Atley Track and the Invincible Gold Mine Trail. Detailed info on trails is available on the DOC website.

Watch a movie at Reading Cinemas

On one of those days when you don’t want to do anything touristy or adventurous, settle down to some quality chill time at the movies at Reading Cinemas, right in the center of town.

More Adventure Activities

Other than the few activities I’ve mentioned above, there are tons of other adventure activities you can do in Queenstown such as bungy jumping, white water rafting, jet boating, skydiving, horse-riding, hot air ballooning, skiing and snowboarding (winter). .

Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Where to Stay in Queenstown

Book your hotel or B&B in Queenstown or consider one of these options:

Luxury Stays
Chalet Queenstown
Pounamu Apartments Queenstown
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
Scenic Suites Queenstown

Mid-range Stays
Aspen Hotel Queenstown
Bella Vista Queenstown
Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown

Budget Stays
Mercure Queenstown Resort
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
Holiday Inn Queenstown Frankton Road

Haka Lodge Queenstown – Hostel
Nomads Queenstown Backpackers
YHA Queenstown Lakefront – Hostel


Heading to New Zealand? Check out my post about kayaking in the Abel Tasman Park, exploring the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, the TranzAlpine Scenic rail journey or how to enjoy Maori culture and geothermal wonders in Rotorua. For general info to help you plan your trip check out my New Zealand Travel Blog or check out my itinerary for two weeks in New Zealand.

Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you use them to book, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, which goes towards running this blog. That said I never recommend tours, accommodations and products that I wouldn’t book or haven’t booked myself.

Have you been to Queenstown? What would you add to this list?

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Top Things to do in Queenstown New Zealand: Your adventure bucket list from bungee jumping to paragliding plus short trips to beautiful places around Queenstown.

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  1. says: Sean

    New Zealand is on my bucket list, and of course Queensland. But, now, I need to add luge to my list of adventure sports I haven’t tried. We’ll try to change that when we visit – it sounds like a blast.

    1. says: Natasha Amar

      Thanks for the comment Sean, but really the luge is just more fun than adventure, but it’s with a great view in Queenstown 🙂

  2. New Zealand holds a special place in my heart because I love the Lord of the Rings and a lot of their scenes were shot here. Although I’m not quite sure if Queensland was a part of their set, seeing your post and the pictures tug at my heartstrings. I would really love to see Queensland and the rest of New Zealand.

  3. Queenstown is up there with one of the places we most want to go and visit, it just seems like the perfect place for us two adventurers! It reminds me very much of Interlaken in Switzerland, if you loved Queenstown you would love it there! Beauty and adventure all in one place!

  4. After living in Hawaii for two years New Zealand is at the very top of my list for places to visit considering the history and ancestral lineage that connects the two islands! Your list is great!

  5. I would go back to Queenstown in a second! The luge ride is so much fun, and the scenery is just out of this world. Such a great bar scene too. You have some cool pictures, and I didn’t know about that old house! Kinda wish I had known about it when I was there. Did you get anything from Fergburger? That place is immense! 🙂