However you choose to slice up your New Zealand itinerary, digging into the best things to do in Queenstown is a must.
As the most popular travel destination on New Zealand’s South Island, the top tourist attractions in Queenstown are some of the most-coveted in the entire country.
Queenstown is a blessing for both adrenaline junkies & nature-lovers. The area teems with activities from hiking & mountain biking to strapping yourself to bungy and taking a death-defying plunge.
Not sure what to do in Queenstown? Sort out your trip to New Zealand’s adventure capital with this guide to the best places to visit in Queenstown…
Top tourist attractions in Queenstown
One of the most defining characteristics of Queenstown is its location on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
Covering almost 300 square kilometres, the snaked-shaped Lake Wakatipu is a stunning slice of nature and one of the Queenstown’s must-visit attractions.
It’s hardly a surprise that Lake Wakatipu is a favourite recreational spot for Queenstowners and tourists alike.
The area around the lake is dotted with a number of popular Queenstown hiking trails for your walking & cycling pleasure. Get out and enjoy them to their fullest!
Milford Sound (Piopiotahi)
Truly number among the finest slices of nature on the planet, Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) is what New Zealand travel dreams are made of.
This sublime fjord, set to the stunning backdrop of the 1,620-metre-high Mitre Peak (Rahotu), is not just one of the best day trips from Queenstown but one of the world’s most-coveted natural destinations for travellers.
One of the main reasons to visit Queenstown is, undoubtedly, a chance to witness resplendent Milford Sound area in all its glory.
For avid hikers, one of the best ways to experience the region is to grab your hiking boots for the multi-day walk on the Milford Track.
Often considered one of the world’s greatest treks, the Milford Track starts at Glade Wharf on Lake Te Anau, heading north through Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound.
Or, if getting out onto the water suits your tastes better, join a kayaking tour of Milford Sound to experience the fjord’s majesty up close and personal.
Ben Lomond Track
One of the most accessible and popular hikes around Queenstown, the Ben Lomond Track is an excellent option for hikers ill-prepared for the one of the region’s epic multi-day treks.
From the upper Skyline Gondola station, the track climbs upwards almost one kilometre up the 1,748-metre-high Ben Lomond.
The hike isn’t always easy, but those who persevere will be rewarded with sweeping views over Lake Wakatipu and even as far as Mount Aspiring.
Expect the return hiking trip to take approximately six to eight hours from start to finish.
One of the oldest and most popular ski resorts in New Zealand, Coronet Peak offers a handful of superb runs on its slopes for every level of skier or snowboarder from beginner to advanced just 25 minutes from Queenstown.
Even if you’re not visiting Queenstown during skiing season (usually early June to late September or early October), Coronet Peak is a great place to partake in a summer activities from a gondola ride to guided hikes out to Skippers Ridge.
In either winter or summer, you’ll be treated to spectacular views over Wakatipu and the Southern Alps at Coronet Peak.
Rising 400 metres above central Queenstown, the Skyline Gondola delivers world-class views of the area without the fuss of hiking.
Atop its lofty perch, you’ll find a number of amenities including a café, restaurant, shop, and observation deck.
The upper station of the Skiyline Gondola is also home to some of the best adventure activities in Queenstown including the Queenstown Bike Park, Skyline Luge, Ledge Swing, and Ledge Bungy.
To experience the area at its finest, set your sights on the Skyline Loop Track (30 minutes). More hardcore hikers can connect to the more challenging Ben Lomond Track or the Tiki Trail leading back to Queenstown.
Kiwi Birdlife Park
If you’re visiting Queenstown with kids, don’t miss out a chance to check out the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Spread out over two hectares, the Kiwi Birdlife Park is among the coolest things to see in Queenstown for families & solo travellers alike.
Set among breathtaking landscaped gardens, the park is home to 10,000 native plants and over 20 native species of reptiles & birds including geckos, tuatara, parakeets, falcons, and, of course, the park’s namesake kiwi bird.
Admission fees to the Kiwi Birdlife Park support local New Zealand conservation projects.
Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Ascending 500 metres to the summit of Te Tapu-nui, the Queenstown Hill Time Walk is one of the area’s most popular walks and one of the must-do activities in Queenstown for active travellers.
The 3-hour-return Queenstown Hill Time Walk climbs through a lovely pine forest and offers short history lessons along the way via six information plaques (hence the walk’s name).
Once you reach the summit, you’ll be treated to incredible views over the town, the lake, and The Remarkables mountain range.
Famous as the home of the Routeburn Track trailhead and as a filming location for the first Lord of the Rings movie, Glenorchy is a fantastic place to escape the buzz of adventurous Queenstown for a quieter more rural setting.
Located at the head of Queenstown’s famous lake, Glenorchy opens up a world of hiking for travellers.
It’s within an ear’s shot of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park, and has a number of hiking trails that are easily accessible from nearby.
If you lean onto the more adventurous side, Glenorchy also makes a great base for activities like horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, canyoning, and jet boating.
Shotover Jet Boat Ride
One of the world’s most famous boating activities, the Shotover Jet Boat Ride is a must for adrenaline junkies visiting Queenstown.
Launched in 1970, this adventure outfitter has become an expert in Queenstown’s aqua terrain, propelling & spinning its visitors through the Shotover River Canyons at hair-raising speeds.
It’s hardly a surprise that Shotover is crowned as “The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride”!
Occupying its own small peninsula on Queenstown Bay, Queenstown Gardens is the loveliest nature escape within the town centre.
Dating back to 1876, this beautiful city park is famous for its botanical garden, featuring a wide array of primordial native trees & plant species.
Besides the flora, Queenstown Gardens is chock-loaded with amenities including a frisbee golf course, ice rank, tennis courts, and a skate park.
To experience park at its most indulgent, popover to the lakeside trail for spectacular views of the lakes and The Remarkables.
Where to stay in Queenstown for sightseeing
As it’s one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand, figuring out where to stay in Queenstown can sometimes prove challenging. For most travellers the areas in & around the Queenstown CBD and downtown are the best places to start your search.
- Novotel Queenstown Lakeside: Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this fantastic hotel is an excellent choice for your stay in Queenstown thanks to its excellent on-site amenities and tremendous lake views.
- Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel: Surrounded by mountains and lovely parkland, this stylish boutique hotel offers spacious suites equipped with kitchenettes for a full self-catering experience. The private balconies, featuring spectacular views of The Remarkable, are worth the upgrade.
- Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa: One of the best luxury hotels in Queenstown, this 5-star property is elegant and charming with a distinctive French flair. Grab a luxurious superior room to enjoy incredible mountain & lake vistas from your own private balcony.