Hi, I’m Kate and welcome to my travel guide on the best adventures in Queenstown. I grew up on a farm near Queenstown. It was a typical small town upbringing. There were only 30 students at my primary school! By the time I hit my teenage years I was well and truly ready for an adventure.
I ended up living overseas for eight years. It wasn’t until I moved back home to Queenstown a few years ago that I understood and appreciated the amazing lifestyle and scenery that we have right here in New Zealand.
Queenstown is so diverse. It has a little bit of everything. From luxurious to cheap and cheerful – you are guaranteed to find something that appeals to you. It also has a vibe that’s hard to come by. There’s an electric energy in the air. It’s hard to describe but one visit is never enough.
I love the fact that I can drive 20 minutes in any direction from Queenstown and be surrounded by entirely different scenery. No two days look the same here. The weather seems to change the landscape. Dramatic and moody one day to blue skies and classic summer vibes the next.
Favourite Place in Queenstown: Glenorchy
One of my favourite places in the Queenstown area is Glenorchy. I really love the drive to this township. It’s a 45 minute drive from downtown Queenstown and I feel like it should be on every travellers bucket list. If you go on a calm day the entire lake displays amazing mountain reflections.
Once you’re in Glenorchy, a stroll around the lagoon is a must as well as stopping at Mrs Woolly’s for a scrumptious Fairlie meat pie. Glenorchy is just worth visiting for the drive, scenery and classic Kiwi tucker! You can visit all year round with each season providing something unique to see.
Best Queenstown Adventures in Summer
My favourite hikes are Queenstown Hill, Ben Lomond, Bob’s Cove and Moke Lake Loop Track. A winery tour is also a must if you’re into wine. You can do it yourself or join a tour if you want to leave the car at home. I recommend hiring an E-Bike and hitting the trails if that’s what tickles your fancy.
Another must-do is booking a trip on the TSS Earnslaw Steamship and experiencing the lake. Of course, adrenalin-junkies can enjoy a variety of extreme adventures such as bungy jumps, swings and catapults. There’s never a dull moment in Queenstown if you’re into these types of activities.
Best Queenstown Adventures in Winter
In winter it’s all about the snow. So get yourself a ski pass for either the Remarkables or Coronet Peak. No matter if you’re into skiing, snowboarding or just want to be in the snow for the first time in your life – you will enjoy a unique winter experience that will be cherished forever.
The Skyline Gondola and Luge is a good way to blow off some steam and race your friends to the bottom. It might sound like an activity that only kids enjoy but trust me it’s a lot of fun for adults. After a day of adventure up the mountain or down the luge tracks it will be time for a drink.
Ultimate Day Trips from Queenstown
Arrowtown stuns in autumn with gold and red colours as far as the eye can see. In summer, there are multiple trails to explore too. So no matter when you visit Queenstown, a day trip to Arrowtown is an absolute must.
The drive to Wanaka is every bit as stunning. You will drive up and over New Zealand’s steepest road to the pretty lakeside town of Wanaka which is an adventure in itself. Once in Wanaka, there’s no shortage of things to do with plenty of wineries and hikes like Roy’s Peak and Rob Roy Glacier.
Other Must-Visit Spots in the Deep South
The Catlins is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets and is often missed by tourists. Miles of rugged untouched coastline where you can see penguins, seals, lighthouses and enjoy long sandy beaches all to yourself.
Don’t come expecting to swim here though. The ocean is freezing. Although there are some excellent surf spots such as Long Point if you have a full length wetsuit and are tough enough to brave the chilly waters.
Thriving Food Scene of Queenstown
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Airbnb’s in Queenstown are the way to go when it comes to accommodation. This is especially true if you’re staying with a large group. The views are usually better than the hotels and the ease of parking, ability to cook your own food in a kitchen, etc. all add to the experience.
Queenstown is one of those places that sticks in your heart and that you will miss when you get home. That said, make the most of every moment when you’re here. Hire a car so you can really get to know the area.