Queenstown conjures images of bungee jumping and rolling hills. But this city on the South Island, known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, is not a one-trick pony. In fact, it’s a multi-faceted destination with year-round appeal and most of its activities are available rain, shine, or snow.
Queenstown is a playground for outdoor lovers and scenery collectors as it is world-renowned for incredible landscapes and adventure. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a foodie, or on the lookout for a deeply relaxing getaway, Queenstown will satisfy all of your wishes.
So, if you are planning a trip to New Zealand, you absolutely have to add Queenstown to your itinerary. We created this guide to the coolest things to do in Queenstown. You can easily navigate through the abundance of activities during your stay, especially if it’s your first visit. It may just end up being your favorite city in New Zealand!
Take the Gondola to Bob’s Peak and Ride Back Down with the Luge
Queenstown for first-timers may be a little overwhelming. Home of action and adventure, your head might be spinning from trying to decide how to spend your time when it’s limited. Luckily, the city of Queenstown is quite compact and easy to get around. So, the first thing on the itinerary is to get the lay of the land by taking a gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak. The scenic ride offers stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter, Cecil Peak, and Queenstown. But the other way to get up the mountain is to hike. There is an abundance of breathtaking hikes around Queenstown, and lucky for you, the Tiki Trail is right in the city. Just under 1.5 miles in length, it is quite a steep hike, though not very difficult overall.
Once at the top, take a moment to appreciate the views, perhaps with your favorite beverage at Bob’s Peak bar. This is the best spot to watch the sunset and do a stargazing tour. Then take a thrilling ride down on a luge. This is easily one of the best combinations of Queenstown activities. We guarantee you’ll be tempted to do it more than once. If you are craving more adrenaline, you can also go zip lining and paragliding at Bob’s Peak.
Get Your Heart Racing with a Bungee Jump
Queenstown is the place to go bungee jumping because that’s where this heart-gripping activity was born, right at Kawarau bridge, the world’s first commercial bungee jumping bridge, which is 141 feet high. Since its inception, bungee jumping has become the ultimate bucket list thing to do in Queenstown, and whether we wanted to or not…we had to do it. Kawarau Bungee appealed to us being the birthplace of bungee jumping, its beauty, and its proximity to Queenstown. But in all honestly, all of these bungee jumping spots have a beautiful view, not that you’ll be paying much attention to it as you fall into the abyss.
Watch John’s Epic Bungee Jump! Click video below!
There are a few places where you can bungee jump in Queenstown, each with its own perks. Ledge Bungee is located right in Queenstown, on Bob’s Peak to be precise, and drops 154 feet. The iconic Kawarau Bungee is located 20 minutes out of town, where you jump off a bridge. And for the real daredevils, there is Nevis Bungee, around 1.5 hours from Queenstown, which is a cable car suspended in the air 440 feet high above a canyon. It’s the highest bungee in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world.
Fun-filled Shotover River and Canyon Activities
Jetboating on the famous Shotover river is the best way to take in the breathtaking scenery and one of the coolest things to do in Queenstown. It’s an adrenaline-pumping ride with the world-famous Shotover Jet, operating since 1965, tackling the rapids at high speeds. Don’t worry, you are provided with safety and waterproof gear!
Another way you can take in the sights of the river and experience another thrilling activity on top of bungee jumping is on a giant swing. This is a heart-racing activity like no other where you jump off a platform 358 feet into the Shotover Canyon and swing on a giant rope. The extra fun bit is that you can jump any way you like, ride a tricycle off the platform, get tipped off a chair, or even slide into the canyon.
Take a Cruise Onboard a Historic Vessel
One of the best ways to see Queenstown’s beauty is from the waters of Lake Wakatipu. You can do so on board the last remaining steamship, TSS Earnslaw, used during the gold rush. This boat has been taking visitors to Walter Peak Farm since 1912. You have the opportunity to not only board it for a scenic cruise but also pair it with a gourmet lunch! This experience is so iconic that it claims to be the best meal in Queenstown.
Indulge in a Relaxing Afternoon at Onsen Hot Pools
One of the most popular activities in Queenstown, perfect for a rainy day, is a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools. It’s a day spa offering a traditional Japanese bathing experience with a kiwi twist. There is no better way to break up all of the thrilling activities than a relaxing and luxurious soak in a private cedar hot tub. This amazing place is overlooking the Shotover river and mountains. Add the refreshments for a romantic touch or opt into a message for the ultimate indulgence that will send you to the heavens and back. Sounds dreamy? Make sure to book ahead, spots sell out fast!
Where to Eat in Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand is a playground for foodies. From exquisite dining experience to quick and cheerful finger licking grab and go’s, to incredible wineries, there are plenty of good eats in Queenstown.
Now, when searching for the best places to eat in Queenstown, all roads and fingers unanimously point in one direction – Fergburger. Grabbing a…burger, obviously, in this joint is the quintessential Queenstown experience. To the point that New Zealanders will frown if you don’t carve out time to try their favorite burger. Throughout our New Zealand trip, we definitely noticed their burger fetish, but the queues outside Ferburger confirmed our suspicions. We patiently waited for our order and we must admit – it’s worth the hype! Oh, just thinking about it… *drools on the keyboard* Hot tip: call ahead to give the restaurant your order for pick up to avoid the line.
Follow it up with an iconic Queenstown dessert at Cookie Bar, created by New Zealand’s institution Cookie Time. Indulge in the ultimate chewy and gooey hot cookie, fresh out of the oven.
If you are craving familiar flavors of Mexican cuisine, then a visit to Margo’s is a must. The Queenstown, New Zealand restaurant interior is as vibrant as its menu offerings. In line with Queenstown’s adventure theme, ask for a secret menu to put your taste buds out of their comfort zone.
The pinnacle of all dining experiences in Queenstown is Nest Kitchen and Bar. The fine dining restaurant pairs the best local ingredients of the Central Otago region with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the art deco interior. If you are looking for romantic things to do in Queenstown, this is it!
With such a whirlwind of incredible activities in Queenstown, we can’t wait to be back! Let us know what you loved the most during your visit. Happy adventuring!