Looking for an adventure and adrenaline-fueled getaway? Head to Queenstown, New Zealand! From bungee jumping to extraordinary hikes to skiing and snowboarding, Queenstown has something for adventure seekers.
Queenstown is located on the South Island of New Zealand and is internationally known as the adventure capital of the world. Surrounded by mirror-like lakes and vast mountain landscapes, it’s hard not to fall in love with this energetic town. As is the case with other ski towns, vacationers to Queenstown may end up staying or moving and becoming a local.
In this entry of Budget Travel Plans, we’re going to show you 17 of the best things to do when visiting the loveable mountainside town of Queenstown!
Budget Travel Tip: Looking for affordable places to stay in Queenstown?
Driftaway Queenstown is a holiday park 6km from the resort town in Frankton. It has near-perfect reviews, stunning views in a cabin-like atmosphere, and modern shared areas like a kitchen and lounge. You can check availability and book online here.
If you’re looking for a hostel directly in the resort town, here are five of our favourites:
• Haka Lodge Queenstown: check availability and book here
• Nomads Queenstown: check availability and book here
• JUCY Snooze Queenstown: check availability and book here
• Southern Laughter Backpackers: check availability and book here
• The Black Sheep Backpackers: check availability and book here
17 Things to Do in Queenstown, New Zealand
Bungee Jump Queenstown
Something on every adrenaline junkie’s bucket list: Bungee jumping. Known by many as the home to bungee jumping, Queenstown provides several places to experience this epic activity. Starting with where the sport first originated, there’s the Kawarau Bridge Bungy. This spot provides a slightly less intimidating experience than its bigger brothers but also allows you to say you jumped the world’s first commercial bungee. Alternatively, there is the ultimate thrill at Nevis. The 440ft jump is New Zealand’s largest bungee which sees you plunging into what seems to be
a never-ending crater.
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Take a Trip to Milford Sound
Take a day trip to the magical fjord of Milford Sound. Take in the breathtaking views of part of the Fiordland National Park, which hosts some of the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Now deemed as the eighth wonder of the world, this place is one you should be sure not to miss. A 4-hour drive from the town center you will experience one of the most scenic drives in the country on route to this adventure.
Fergburger: New Zealand’s Famous Burger Restaurant
It is hard to comprehend the amount of hype surrounding a burger. Yet Fergburger will soon prove you wrong. Heading to perhaps New Zealand’s most famous burger bar after an adrenaline-packed day is an activity in itself which you must tick off. The queues for this place can be astronomical but I can assure you it will be worth it after that first bite. With an extensive range of options from meaty to plant-based, this place really does cater to everyone.
Shotover Jet Boat: Experience High Speed
Located just 10 minutes from town in the centre of the Shotover Canyon is this heart-pumping attraction. The Shotover Jet Boat takes you on an exhilarating ride through narrow canyons at speeds of 85km per hour while still allowing you to take in spectacular views. This is a staple activity in Queenstown for many travellers and one of which you will hear about across New Zealand. So put your jacket on and hold on tight as you won’t want to miss this one!
Tackle the Ben Lomond Hike
If you are up for a full day of hiking, then this might be the activity for you! The Ben Lomond hike is a challenging trek that will take you around 6-8 hours to reach the summit. So pack plenty of water and prepare some sturdy footwear as this is going to be a full-on day. As you climb up the saddle you will experience spectacular mountain views as you build-up to the summit where you will experience striking views of Lake Wakatipu.
Experience a Sunrise at Queenstown Hill
Love seeing spectacular views but not keen on trekking for 6+ hours to Ben Lomond? Then experiencing a sunrise at Queenstown hill might be the next best thing. Wake up early for a 1- hour trek up the Tiki Trail. Pack some food and drink along with a picnic blanket and experience a magical golden sunrise to start your day.
Go Canyoning and Ziplining
I’ve been canyoning all over the world from the Philippines to Costa Rica and canyoning in Queenstown was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had. Prepare yourself for an action-packed day of jumping through waterfalls, abseiling down cliffs, and swimming through caves. This activity is truly epic.
Hit up Mountain Biking
If you’re a keen off-road biker or just fancy a laid-back scenic ride you’re in luck. Queenstown boasts a variety of different bike trails from speedy downhill adventures to lake sidetracks for you to explore.
Otago Wine Tasting
If you’re a fond wine lover, you’ll know that New Zealand produces some of the best wines in the world. There are plenty of wine tours available around the area so if you’re looking for a break from the adrenaline-fueled activities, this is the perfect opportunity to sit back and relax. You can stop at many scenic spots for a picnic while capturing some wonderful scenery through orchards.
Watch the Sunset Over Lake Wakatipu
Every day I spent in Queenstown I saw a new colour of sunset falling over the lake. It was so beautiful that I’d head there most evenings. The atmosphere around the lake brings a soothing but electric feel. Bring a cold beer or two and find the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Hit the Slopes
If you’re heading to Queenstown in New Zealand’s winter months (June-October) you must hit the ski slopes. Queenstown is home to Coronet Peak which is one of the most popular ski resorts in New Zealand. With an incredible range of slopes and a long snowy season, it is perfect for both beginners and expert skiers. Wizz down the powder-filled mountains while experiencing impressive views of Lake Wakatipu.
Sky Dive Over Lake Wakatipu and Mount Aspiring
When you think of adrenaline-pumping activities you may think of jumping from a moving plane at over 15,000 feet. Well, Queenstown is probably one of the best places to experience this with it being the adrenaline capital of the world. There are a host of providers located in the heart of the town, but the company Nzone sticks out. Nzone is renowned across New Zealand for having great safety measures. The company also takes you to the best locations so you can take in views of both Lake Wakatipu and Mount Aspiring.
Visit the Remarkables Mountain Range
A breathtaking destination in both summer and winter, the journey to the mountain range is one of many twisting road climbs. In winter, the Remarkables are home to a variety of ski resorts where you can spend many days shredding the snow. In the warmer weather, there are a variety of hikes to explore. It provides a great alternative to the busier Ben Lomond.
Take the Queenstown Gondola to the Skyline
In Queenstown, you might feel a bit tired out with all the spectacular hikes available. If so, take the laid-back scenic route to the skyline via the Queenstown gondola. Once you get to the top you will be blown away by the vast view of the town and its surrounding nature.
Play Frisbee Golf in Queenstown Gardens
With the range of adventure activities available in Queenstown, it can really set your budget back. So, picking a cheap activity now and again will be a great option to save those dollars. A different but fun activity to do with a group of friends is frisbee golf. What makes this activity even better is the fact that the course is free! The gardens provide an 18-basket course scattered throughout the trees, so rent some frisbees and try something a little bit different with this activity.
Visit the Onsen Hot Pools
Located just outside of Queenstown are the onsen hot pools which provide a luxurious travel experience. You can rent your own hot pool overlooking a landscape of mountains and rivers. Being a backpacker myself, splurging on a luxury experience is something I rarely do; but making the trip to these hot pools was something I definitely didn’t regret. The views can be even better at sunset so book that evening slot, crack open a beer, and relax. This luxurious experience is one you won’t soon forget.
Ride the Luge at the Queenstown Skyline
This activity is hands down one of the most fun in all of Queenstown. I never knew jumping into a small buggy and twisting around a small racecourse could be so fun! Located just off the Queenstown Gondola, this activity is fun by yourself or with a group of friends.
As you can tell, Queenstown really has it all and it is unquestionably one of New Zealand’s biggest gems. Despite the cheerful busy atmosphere, it still feels wonderfully untouched, and this is why it is many travellers’ favourite places to visit in all of New Zealand. From jumping off the ledge of the world’s first commercial bungee jump, to that sunset picnic by the lake it undoubtedly lives up to its hype. So, what’s holding you back? Book that ticket and experience this magical mountainous town, I can promise that you definitely won’t regret it.
For even more information on Queenstown, check out our other guides:
- 45 Free and Cheap Things to do in Queenstown
- 20 Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Queenstown
- 20 Best Bars in Queenstown
- 18 Best Cafes in Queenstown
- 11 Best Japanese Restaurants in Queenstown
- 13 Best Arrowtown Cafes (20 minute drive from Queenstown)
- 21 Things to do in Tauranga (a flight away to the North Island, but still a great place to visit)
- 28 Best Restaurants in Queenstown
- 6 Best Indian Restaurants in Queenstown: Picked by a Local