Queenstown Destination Guide
In the heart of New Zealand's South Island – on the lightning bolt-shaped Lake Wakatipu – is Queenstown. The 1860s gold rush first delivered prosperity here, but these days Queenstown gets its visitors' pulse racing for another reason: adventure tourism. A year-round tourist town loomed over by a spectacular mountain range called The Remarkables, Queenstown is known for its skiing, extreme sports and perpetually pulsating nightlife.
Located deep in the heart of New Zealand’s mountainous South Island, Queenstown stuns visitors with some spectacular scenery and turns them into devotees with a seemingly endless list of things to do. Ski the slopes in winter, suspend your sanity on a bungee jump in summer, and hit the town after dark at any time to enjoy one of New Zealand’s most vibrant party cities.
Marvel at the scenery from...
- The edge of Lake Wakatipu
- The top of Bob’s Peak
- The Remarkables skifields
You won't struggle to find things to do in Queenstown.!Its natural beauty can be enjoyed year round, as can many of its adventure sports. If you like to ski or snowboard, book your flights to Queenstown between mid-June and early October. You can hit the powder on five internationally acclaimed snow areas.
Get high with a chopper tour, sky dive, bungy jump, hang glide or paraglide; get wet with a jet boat ride, white water rafting or river surf; or get dirty with an off-road adventure. For a stunning view of the area, take the Skyline gondola 450 metres up to Bob's Peak. There's a bar, restaurant and cafe to enjoy at the top before you luge back down the mountain.
Set your pulse racing with...
- A bungee jump off Kawarau Bridge
- A jet boat ride on the Shotover Jet
- A zip line ride through the forest
Queenstown dishes up prime fare, from award-winning chefs through to the humble burger/fish and chips. International cuisine is available to complement fresh, local produce too. Whether you tuck into South Island salmon, roast New Zealand lamb or just have a drink at the bar, you certainly won't go hungry in Queenstown.
Atop Bob's Peak, mountain and lake views are guaranteed from every table. Back on the ground, for a taste of history in a welcoming, cosy spot, grab a drink at Eichardt's Bar (circa 1867) and dinner at Gantley's Historic Restaurant (1863). For a little post-slope pick-me-up, you will find plenty of cafes in the downtown area including the popular Vudu and Lone Star.
Grab a bite to eat at…
- Fishbone (freshly shucked oysters)
- Vknow (a suburban family favourite)
- Botswana Butchery (carnivore mecca)
Whether you want 5-stars or sleeping under the stars, Queenstown accommodation will welcome you with open arms. If you're keen to stay at the highest hotel in town, the Tanoa Aspen Hotel might be on the money. If lakefront luxury appeals, consider the Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments.
There's a selection of budget accommodation in town and on the lakefront nearby. Queenstown's surrounding hills, valleys and further lakefront spots hides many gorgeous bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. So, if you don't need to stay in town, you're still spoiled for choice.
While it may be renowned as New Zealand’s beloved “Adventure Capital,” Queenstown is also the gateway to the greater Otago Region at large. Arrowtown and Glenorchy are just a short hop away.
Given the popularity of adventure tourism here, there's no shortage of outdoor outfitters. Don't worry if you've forgotten to pack a particular outdoorsy item! You'll also find Kiwi-grown wool and sheepskin clothing here and greenstone (pounamu) jewellery is another popular souvenir.
Queenstown shopping is not really for the bargain hunter, but who could want to shop with such an exquisite environment on the doorstep? If you're in self-contained accommodation you'll have no problem stocking the fridge and the cupboards during your stay – particularly if you visit the Saturday farmers' market at Earnslaw Park.
Queenstown like a Local
Queenstown enjoys an apres-ski atmosphere year round and it's particularly spirited during its two major annual festivals: Summerdaze (end of December–end January) and Winter Festival (June). If you're coming to town during these peak times, make sure you book your Queenstown accommodation in advance.
If you're thinking about taking a quintessential New Zealand road trip, the region’s largest city Dunedin is a leisurely drive through Central Otago towards the coast, making Queenstown the perfect place from which to base all of your South Island adventures.
Explore the Otago region on…
- A trip to historic Arrowtown
- An excursion to nearby Wanaka
- A half-day drive to Dunedin