I visited Queenstown a couple of years ago with my husband and some friends. Although we were both born and bred in the North Island, neither I nor my husband Val had ever been to the South Island. We planned a trip to visit our friends, who had moved their when we moved to Australia. So it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with them, and Jeff and Jane decided to come to Queenstown with us.
Wow what a trip. I will be writing more about our personal side of the trip but in the meantime here are some reasons you should take a trip to Queenstown.
Queenstown is located in the south west of the South Island of New Zealand. It was built around Queenstown Bay, an inlet on Lake Wakatipu. The long, thin lake was created by glacial processes which give rise to spectacular mountain scenery. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting this amazing part of the world, here are 12 top things to do, as voted for by visitors to Queenstown.
1. Onsen Hot Pools.
You can get to these pools via a 10 minute ride from Queenstown on a Courtesy bus. Each pool is in a private bathroom, lined with cedar wood. Each has its own changing area and shower and best of all, stunning views of the mountains. Every pool can take up to four adults but are also used by individuals and couples.
The temperature is set daily to match up to the weather so the water is warmer if it’s snowing! You can also request a temperature when you book to be sure of total comfort. There is also an iced pool for those who like to close their pores with a shock!
You can choose whether to enjoy your pool indoors out al fresco by simply pressing a button which retracts the large picture window.
Bookings are for a minimum of one hour and may be extended in half-hour increments. Booking is essential as the pools are only heated for confirmed bookings. You can book by email, phone or via a Queenstown Agent. For details, look here.
2. Segway on Q
See the sights on a Segway Personal Transporter for a trip that all the family will enjoy. The Segway has two large, thick rubberized wheels, either side of a flat platform. A sturdy handle rises out of the platform and comes up to waist height. You stand on the platform, hold the handle, lean forwards and off you go! To stop, just lean back. The machine is balanced by a system of gyroscopes helped along by microprocessors.
Segway on Q offer three different trips, so you’re sure to find one to suit.
Queenstown Tour – 2 hour trip
- A free shuttle takes you 1km out of Queenstown for your training session on the Segway. The tours travels through Omer Park and around the bay. It continues out of the bay area and up some hills where you then have free time to ride around Queenstown Gardens. By the journey home, you will be more confident on your Segway and there will be a chance to go faster if you wish to!
Bay Ride – 1 hour trip
- This is the same as the Queenstown Tour but without the hills and commentary.
Picnic for Two – 3 hours
- This begins with a short tour and then you carry on along a beautiful lakeside track to Frankton. Enjoy a deli style picnic lunch including sparkling wine – which you can enjoy without worry as you’ll be collected from there and taken back to Queenstown.
You can book any of the tours here.
3. Guided Walks
New Zealanders are rightly proud of their beautiful island and are passionate about conserving it. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery on a guided walk, in a helicopter or on snowshoes…
New Zealand Walks offer a number different walks, including privately guided walks which can be designed to meet your own requirements and abilities. You can choose a walk that suits your time frame and your fitness level. Walk through the most amazing scenery in the world. Just a couple of the walks your can do around Queenstown are the
- Milford Track – know as the finest walk in the world
- Famous Routeburn Track – this walk offers breathtaking mountain views.
4. Heli Hikes
Don’t you love those documentaries that include amazing views from the air? Now you can see if for real as a helicopter sweeps you over spectacular scenery. When you land, enjoy a picnic lunch and a guided walk. There are three trip-of-a-lifetime heli hikes to choose from:
- Remarkable Mountains
- Mount Earnslaw Glacier
- Mountains to Sea & Sand
If you love snowy scenery then this is for you. If you’re already on a ski trip, this offers another way to enjoy the peace and beuty of Queenstown’s ‘back country’. If you’re not into skiing, then you will love this. The hi-tech snow shoes of today are nothing like the old image of tennis rackets tied to your feet…
You can book walks, heli hikes or snowshoeing here.
6. Air Milford
Air Milford offers you the chance to see spectacular scenery from the air on a personalized ‘flightseeing’ tour. Choose from the following:
- Milford sound flights
- Doubtful Sound Flights
- Mount Cook Flights
- Special Charter Flights – some examples:
- to take you surfing at remote beaches
- to see where ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy was filmed
- to go fishing in unspoilt rivers or to take you camping in remote areas.
- You can book any of the Air Milford tours here
7. NZONE “The Ultimate Jump”
Take a 15 minute ride in a courtesy coach (they depart every hour) from the NZone skydive shop in Queenstown and enjoy the adventure experience of a lifetime.
The plane will take you up 15,000 feet for unparalleled views. Once you’re safely harnessed to a highly experienced and qualified ‘Jumpmaster’, you will step out of the plane and travel towards the ground at 200 kph for around one minute. The jumpmaster is in full control at all times so all you have to do is enjoy the mind-blowing experience!
Don’t forget to commission NZone to film, edit and create an entire documentary film of your experience. A freefall photographer jumps alongside you and your jumpmaster and films your jump. At the end of the day, you will receive your own DVD and photos along with a certificate proving your jump.
8. Ultimate Hikes
If your schedule permits, enjoy a guided walk through New Zealand’s World Heritage Area. All multiday ultimate hikes include overnight accommodation in luxury lodges, which include hot showers, meals and comfortable beds…all of which you’ll be ready for! The walks include transport, food, equipment and expert guides to help you get the best from your experience.
Choose from the following four multiday hikes or a single day experience.
- The Milford Track
This 5 day / 4 night Queenstown to Queenstown walk takes you through the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Transport, luxury lodges, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets are provided. You will be led by an expert guide.
- The Routeburn Track
A 3 day / 2 night Queenstown to Queenstown guided walk exploring New Zealand’s Southern Alps and passing through Fiordland and Mount Aspiring – two national parks. Transport, luxury lodges, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets are provided. You will be led by an expert guide.
- The Grand Traverse
A 6 day / 5 night Queenstown to Queenstown guided walk starting on the shores of Lake Wakitipu and taking in the Greenstone and Routeburn valleys. Transport, luxury lodges, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets are provided. You will be led by an expert guide.
- The Classic
This 8 day / 7 night Queenstown to Queenstown guided walk is a combination of the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track through the heart of Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area. Transport, luxury lodges (except in Te Anau where accommodation is on a bed only basis), meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets are provided. You will be led by an expert guide.
Day Walks (guided)
The Routeburn Track Encouter from Queenstown is ideal if time is short or you don’t want to do a long hike. You could also choose the Milford Track Encounter from Te Anau or the Mount Cook Encounter from Mount Cook Village
Ultimate Hikes provide:
- door to door transport
- all food, hot drinks
- free loan of day packs and rain jackets
- sunscreen and insect repellent
- an emergency radio system for complete safety
- Walking boots or shoes
- A bottle of water
- Warm clothing
- Your camera
You can book all Ultimate Hikes here. Single day excursions must be booked 24 hours in advance.
9. Queenstown Rafting
Queenstown Rafting are the largest rafting company in New Zealand and they have over 30 years of experience. You can choose from the following rafting experiences:
- This river, in Skippers Canyon, is graded 3 to 5, which makes it the most popular place to attempt white water rafting in all of New Zealand. This is also where you can take a thrill ride in a jet boat.
- If you’ve never tried white water rafting, this is the one for you. The grade 2 – 3 river offers breathtaking scenery and you will experience the longest rapid that is commercially rafted – the 400m Dog Leg.
Landsborough Wilderness Multi day
- Get away from it all to white water raft in a remote area. Gourmet food and luxury camping are included for an unforgettable wilderness experience.
- Add other activities to your white water rafting trip and do them all on one day – it saves time and money! Experiences to choose from include jet boating, bungy jumping and skydiving.
You can book any of the Queenstown Rafting trips here.
10. Appellation Central Wine Tours
Central Otago is New Zealand’s premier cool-climate wine region. Take an Appellation Central Wine Tours in a small group (maximum 10 adults) and learn about the wonderful wines of the region from an expert guide. Taste the wines, enjoy a gourmet lunch and visit the historic town of Old Cromwell. Tours leave every day from Queenstown for vineyards in Queenstown, Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell & Central Otago. You will be picked up from and dropped back at your hotel. All tours may be booked here.
11. Family Adventures
Family Adventures offer you the chance to experience rafting with the family and they are the only rafting company in Queenstown licensed to carry children under the age of 13. Children as young as 3 may travel too so it really is a family day out.
The day starts with a 45 minute scenic drive to Skippers Canyon, famous for Gold Minding. Then you travel by either raft or inflatable kayak down the Shotover River on grade 1 and 2 rapids which are very gentle. Lord of the Rings film fans will recognize one of the stops as ‘The Ford of Bruinen’.
The company also offers a guided trip travelling downhill on a mountain bike!
You can book all Family Adventure trips here.
12. Skyline Gondola and Luge
The Skyline Complex is situated on Bob’s Peak, which you get to by a gondola cable car. The complex includes a restaurant and stunning views of Coronet Peak & The Remarkables, Queenstown and across Lake Wakatipu to Cecil and Walter Peaks.
The quick way down is by luge (a three wheeled cart). The luge lets you go as slowly or as fast as you like. There are two tracks to choose from:
The Scenic track – gentle gradient with easy bends and dips. There are also several rest areas giving riders plenty of chances stop, enjoy the views and take photographs.
The Advanced track – a steeper gradient with thrilling banked corners, a tunnel and dips and hollows.
When you get to the bottom, take the 2-seater chairlift back up and do it all again!
Queenstown is in such a beautiful part of the world, and the scenery is such that you simply shouldn’t miss it. There is so much to see and do that you’ll find it difficult to pack it all in…but do your best!