Planning a trip to beautiful Queenstown and need some inspiration on the very best things to see, do and eat? I’ve got you covered with these 18 tips! You’ll find Queenstown an insanely beautiful place but, more than just pretty, it’s got a wild heart. There are so many amazing outdoor activities to try, adrenaline rushes to be had and ways to push yourself right out of your comfort zone and feel really, truly alive. Not only that, but Queenstown boasts some damn delicious food and gorgeous views too. Pretty much, it’s awesome and you should definitely be excited about going there.
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Queenstown before and have any tips to share, add them to the comments below!
But first, watch this…
1. Bungy Jump with AJ Hackett Bungy
I was really excited and also really nervous before my jump at Karawau Bridge. The team at AJ Hackett are awesome though, they get you super psyched to jump and if you chicken out at first, they’ll help you get the courage to jump, with some encouraging words! A word of warning; Don’t look down. Just look straight ahead and JUMP. It’s an amazing experience and a must-try in Queenstown. I loved it and can’t wait to jump again! There are a few jumps you can do in Queenstown, Karawau Bridge, The Ledge and The Nevis. Find AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand here.
2. Shotover Jet
When you picture the Shotover Jet in your mind, it can feel a bit ‘done’. Like, everyone’s already done it and it surely can’t be that fun. But I’m here to tell you that I did it and I loved it! I spent the whole time laughing and whooping and carrying on like a big kid. You can read my full review of my Shotover Jet experience here, which I did thanks to the team at Tinggly. 10/10 would Shotover again. Find the Shotover Jet here.
3. Eat at No 5 Church Lane
Do you love delicious food? Well, make sure you eat at least one meal at No 5 Church Lane. This fantastic restaurant is part of The Spire Hotel, tucked away in Church Lane, away from all the hustle and bustle of Queenstown. I cannot recommend the food here enough. They create delectable meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so no matter when you visit, you can’t go wrong. Find No 5 Church Lane here.
4. Golden hour at Lake Wakatipu
Do some research and find out what time sunset is, then head down to Lake Wakatipu. Sitting along the water’s edge is the perfect spot to watch the sunset and see the colours of the sky change against the Southern Alps. I got some of my favourite photos from my trip down by the water toward sunset, it was just gorgeous and a really pretty place to spend a few hours, just letting it all soak in. Find Lake Wakatipu here.
5. Drive to Glenorchy
If you’ve got yourself a hire car, I suggest jumping in and driving out to Glenorchy. There are heaps of places to stop along the way and take some really amazing photos of the water and the Southern Alps. Again, this drive is where I got some of my favourite shots of Queenstown. Once you reach Glenorchy, I recommend driving around town until you find the jetty, then walking out to get some great photos. It’s a beautiful spot! Find Glenorchy here.
6. Eat at Bella Cucina
Love Italian food? After a big day of exploring, you’ll have earned a nice big bowl of pasta, a pizza and a great glass of wine. Head directly to Bella Cucina! This place does fantastic meals that are well-priced and downright delicious. I can personally vouch for the pizza and pasta (and a lot of the red wine). Find Bella Cucina here.
7. Tandem paragliding over Queenstown
Need more adventure in life? Strap yourself to another human and throw yourself off the side of a mountain. Don’t worry, you’ll also be attached to a… paragliding… thingo. Flights with GForce leave from the Skyline Gondola and you get to float over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, which is pretty dang spectacular. Find GForce Tandem Paragliding here.
8. Eat at Botswana Butchery
For a fancy and really delicious meal, visit Botswana Butchery. They offer up some really special meals, including fresh seafood that’ll have your taste buds crying with joy. The service here is top-notch, as is everything else, from the food and drinks to the lake views. Find Botswana Butchery here.
9. Skyline Gondola and Luge
For great views over Queenstown and the Lake, head up to the Skyline. There’s a restaurant up there if you feel hungry, but really it’s all about the amazing views on offer. You can catch the Gondola up to the top, then zip back down on the Luge. Fun! Find the Skyline Gondola and Luge here.
10. Winery Tour
Central Otago region is famous for its amazing Pinot Noir! There are a load of fantastic wineries in the local area and, really, it’d be downright rude if you didn’t visit as many of them as possible, while you’re in Queenstown. My recommendation is that you get yourself on a winery tour. That way you get driven to the best locations, guided by a local, and you don’t have to worry about a designated driver because your tour has one inbuilt. Perfect. Find more information on Queenstown winery tours here.
11. Day Trip to Milford Sound
If you’ve got a day to spare, head out on a day trip to Milford Sound. Why? Because you’ll see some absolutely stunning scenery that will have you snapping away with your camera and saying, “WOW,” all day. You’ll pass through the Southern Alps, see waterfalls and glacial valleys, beautiful, clear rivers and pretty much just some of the most gorgeous views you could ever hope to see. Some tours offer a fly-back option too if you’ve got the cash to splash. I won’t give you a recommendation for the best one to take, just do some research and find the one that suits you best!
12. Do the Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Love hiking? Strap on your boots and do the 1.5km Queenstown Hill Time Walk. It should take around 2-3 hours return and the walk is designed to showcase the past, present and future of Queenstown. The hike to the top sees you rewarded with fantastic 360-degree views of the area, including Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Karawau River. Find out more about the Queenstown Hill Time Walk here.
13. Eat at Bespoke Kitchen
Need a great cup of coffee? Get yourself over to Bespoke Kitchen. They serve up fantastic coffees and the quaint space is the perfect place to start your day with a yummy brunch. They also have a great lunch menu, if you’re looking for a more low-key place to chill-out in the middle of the day. Find Bespoke Kitchen here.
14. Spend a day exploring the ski fields
Whether you’re an expert or a novice (me) Queenstown is a great place to hit the ski fields. You can hire gear up at one of the ski fields, if you don’t have your own, and sign up for a learn-to-ski lesson with a group or one-on-one. If you’re driving up yourself, I recommend getting up there early so you can park nice and close to the top and avoid long queues. The big fields to visit are The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Find out more about Skiing in Queenstown here or you can read more about my experiences here.
Need some inspiration? Watch our Skiing NZ’s South Island video!
15. Go Horse Riding
For a more leisurely way to take it all in, join a horse ride or trek. The guys at Dart Stables offer fantastic trail rides that’ll take you through the beautiful scenery in the area at a nice relaxed pace. Find Dart Stables here.
16. Jump out of a plane
Strap on a parachute and an experienced Skydive instructor and hurl yourselves out of a plane. There’s nothing quite like it, I promise you! Between the Bungy and the skydive, I found skydiving less stressful as the instructor kind of pushes you out of the plane. The Bungy, though, you’ve got to do all yourself, so it takes a bit more ballsy-ness and nerves of steel. Find out about Skydiving in Queenstown here.
17. Spend a Day Canyoning
Want a great way to get up close and personal with nature? Canyoning is a great experience! You strap on a wetsuit and descend a series of rivers and streams by sliding, jumping, zip lining, abseiling your way down them. It’s a pretty amazing experience and a great way to kick off your adventure activities. Find out more about Canyoning in Queenstown here.
18. Visit Wanaka
If you’ve got a hire car, I recommend jumping in it and going for a drive to spend a day exploring Wanaka. It’s probably my favourite place in New Zealand and a must-visit if you have the time. I’ve got a whole heap of inspiration for you on why you should visit and what to do while you’re there! Read my guide on 31 Things to do in Wanaka in Winter.
Note: Fergburger has been left off this particular blog post because, well, everyone knows about Fergburger! You don’t need me to tell you about it, do ya, punks!
Where to stay
I spent my time in Queenstown staying at The Spire Hotel. I’m not even going to try and play it cool, it was one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at and I desperately want to stay there again. Seriously, this place is the next level of gorgeous luxury and the views from my room were INSANE. It’s one of those places that’s really hard to tear yourself away from, you just want to stay there forever and ever and never leave.
The suite was huge and comfortable, with a fireplace, loads of places to hang out, an amazing big bathroom and a bed so comfortable you just melt into it. I spent my whole stay getting around the room in a big, fluffy robe (my favourite). It was a really special stay and I cannot recommend The Spire highly enough! You can read my full review of The Spire Hotel here and watch my video review here!
Need some New Zealand inspiration? Watch this…
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.