Snow-capped peaks rimming crystal lakes under some of the world’s clearest skies are only a dream to many outside New Zealand’s pristine Queenstown. The minute you blink for the first time and breathe lungs full of mother nature’s purest air in this place and the magic takes over. Regardless of whether you’re there in the crisp winter, pretty autumn, lively spring or sparkling summer, Queenstown, is a natural gem in a class of its own. And while it’s a phenomenon of the physical world, whether you’re travelling on your own, with a partner in crime or the entire family, there is an absolute abundance of activities in Queenstown that can’t be missed.
But with so many activities in Queenstown, the hardest task is always going to be picking which ones to do. Luckily, we’ve pulled together the top 10 must do things so that all you need to create a bevy of lifelong memories is follow this list:
Taking a relaxed ride on the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest gondola, 450 metres up Bob’s Peak, is guaranteed to really open your eyes. With spanning views across Queenstown, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and Lake Wakatipu, you can do it at any time of year and the views are no less impressive. Once you’re up there you’ve got plenty more to do including Skyline’s impressive Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar and Market Kitchen. If you’re there in the warmer months, you’ll also be able to enjoy the awesome luging and mountain biking down and around Bob’s Peak.
While this one is only available during June and July, it is something seriously worth checking out if you’re in Queenstown at the right time of year. Gardens full of entertainment and illuminated artwork - it’s not just for the ‘arty’ types; the designs are impressive to even the most unappreciative eyes.
This is something that’s put Queenstown on the map as a destination for thrill seekers around the world. No matter how old (or young) you are, the Shotover Jet is one of the most enjoyable activities in Queenstown you can do. It’ll certainly get your blood pumping (not quite as much as jumping out of a plane) and the experience of navigating through the Shotover’s beautifully tight network of canyons is something everyone needs on their bucket list.
Another one you’re only going to be able to enjoy during the colder months, Queenstown’s Winter Festival is all about a fun time. From ice rinks, fireworks and boat races all the way through to comedy and dog barking competitions. Not only will Queenstown’s Winter Festival have something for everyone, but there’s enough on every year to keep the entertainment levels high for more than just a day.
If you aren’t a natural born adrenaline junky, NZONE Skydiving themselves point out what is most probably a common question – why jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane? They also answer the question – owning your fear, taking the leap of faith and free-falling above some of the world’s most magnificent land formations is a life-changing experience. It might not seem like your cup of tea at first consideration – humans aren’t meant to fly – but believe us when we tell you, NZONE have world recognised safety standards and are giving you a memory you’ll hold onto for a lifetime.
While the landscape is impressive from the ground, a full appreciation for the Remarkables mountain range looming up from the shores of Lake Wakatipu around Queenstown is only achieved from the sky. There are loads of different packages available with varying prices at Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters so don’t for a second think it’s a simple case of going up and then down – it’s exhilarating and diverse from start to finish. Make sure to rug up for this one and even though tickets are booked in advance, New Zealand’s always changing micro-climates can wreak havoc on helicopter flights – so have a plan B just in case!
Even though Queenstown is the adventure tourism capital of the world, it’s also got the potential to be one of the most relaxing places you’ve ever been. A perfect example can be found at Onsen Hot Pools – Queenstown’s only indoor-outdoor hot pools. Perched up in the mountains, this pearl of a place takes your foot off the accelerator and settles you into a heated tub year round (in winter the tubs heat up to a luscious 39 degrees Celsius!) - it’s pampering the natural way. Onsen also provide complimentary transport to and from the centre of Queenstown. If you’re there in the summer, you might want to also check out Hanmer Springs – hot springs AND waterslides are on the cards here so it’s a perfect site for the kids.
New Zealand’s selection of wineries are world-renowned and this is a perfect way to get an inside look into why that’s the case. Black New Zealand offer an outstanding selection of different tours, though even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur the Black Wine Tour is an awesome way to both experience the locally produced drop as well as get a unique perspective on the natural beauty around Queenstown. They also combine an element of cuisine so if you’re someone who likes to nibble while you drink, Black has you covered.
If you think you’ve had a good burger, think again! Fergburger have the most mouth-watering and generous array of hamburgers to suit any palate. You won’t find burgers of this standard anywhere else, with some of the world’s highest quality meats and fresh produce, all cooked fresh to order, you’ll want to eat here every day of your time in Queenstown. With names like the ‘Tropical Swine’, ‘Bun Laden’ and ‘Sweet Bambi’ we’ll let your imagination do the rest in figuring out how unique this joint is compared to your usual.
Ticked all of these off your list? Have a look at some of these other awesome articles that can shed some light on the top things to do in Queenstown: