12 Best Things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand, often hailed as the adventure capital of the world, is a haven for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Situated on the shores of the crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the majestic Southern Alps, Queenstown’s striking beauty is matched only by the adrenaline-pumping activities that call this town home. Whether you’re plunging off a historic bridge or skydiving over the mountainous skyline, treading through ancient rainforests or sipping world-class wines, there’s an experience in Queenstown that’s bound to capture your spirit. Here are the top 12 things you can’t miss during your visit to this exceptional corner of the globe.

1. Skydiving Over Remarkables

Imagine leaping from a plane at 15,000 feet, with the iconic Remarkables mountain range spreading beneath you like a canvas. Skydiving in Queenstown is not just a rush of pure adrenaline; it’s a bird’s-eye view of a landscape so mesmerizing, it seems almost surreal. Tandem jumps offer the safest and most accessible way to experience freefall over this world-renowned horizon. It’s the ultimate bucket-list-worthy moment that will leave you with unforgettable memories—and a story that starts with “When I was flying over Queenstown…”

2. Jet Boating on Shotover River

The Shotover River is a hidden gem running through a canyon of towering rock faces. A high-speed jet boat ride is the perfect way to experience its white-knuckle thrills. Skimming across the water at breakneck speeds, your expert driver will treat you to heart-stopping spins and close passes through narrow canyons. The Shotover Jet is a Queenstown institution, and a true adventure that’s both invigorating and humbling in the face of nature’s grandeur.

3. Bungee Jumping at Kawarau Bridge

Did you know that Kawarau Bridge was the world’s first commercial bungee site? This historic bridge invites you to take a leap of faith and plunge towards the turquoise waters of the Kawarau River. Apart from the adrenaline of the jump, there’s a unique experience in being part of bungee history. Whether you choose to jump alone or tandem with a friend, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that truly revolutionized adventure tourism worldwide.

4. Hiking the Ben Lomond Track

For a more grounded but equally exhilarating experience, take on Queenstown’s most famous day hike—the Ben Lomond Track. This challenging trek winds its way up 1,438 meters above sea level, rewarding hikers with unparalleled panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding alpine scenery. During the ascent, you may encounter native birdlife and, if visiting in the right season, even a blanket of snow at the summit.

5. Scenic Gondola Ride to Bob’s Peak

If you’re after jaw-dropping vistas but prefer to save your breath for the city’s bustling nightlife, a ride on the Queenstown Gondola is the way to go. The leisurely trip takes you to Bob’s Peak, where a viewing platform awaits for those incredible 220-degree views. Once at the top, a range of experiences includes luge rides, stargazing tours, and mountain biking. Dining at the Stratosfare Restaurant will offer you a meal with a side of those picture-perfect views.

6. Exploring Milford Sound

While not in Queenstown proper, a trip to nearby Milford Sound is a must-do. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world,” this fiordland experience is a day trip that will remain etched in your memory. The best way to explore the Sound is via a boat cruise, where you can witness the sheer cliffs rising from the sea, cascading waterfalls, and the chance to spot seals and dolphins. The road to Milford Sound is also an attraction in itself, with multiple stops revealing dramatic landscapes and landmarks like Mirror Lakes and the Homer Tunnel.

7. Wine Tasting in Gibbston Valley

Queenstown isn’t just about the adventure; it’s a food and wine lover’s paradise too. Just a short drive from the town lies the enchanting Gibbston Valley, home to some of New Zealand’s renowned vineyards. The climate here is perfect for producing pinot noir, and a wine tasting session in this setting is an experience in savoring nuance and quality. Many vineyards offer cellar door tastings, wine and cheese pairings, and guided tours that provide insight into the winemaking process and the terroir that influences the wine’s flavor.

8. Fergburger Experience

No visit to Queenstown is complete without a pilgrimage to Fergburger. This iconic burger joint commands legendary status for its indulgently stacked burgers. Open 21 hours a day and consistently drawing queues that attest to its reputation. From the classic “Ferg,” with prime New Zealand beef, to the surprisingly delicious “Sweet Bambi,” with wild Fiordland deer. There’s a burger combination to suit every palate. Pair your burger with a side of the famous Ferg Fries, and you’ll understand why this has become a rite of passage for all Queenstown visitors.

9. Shotover Canyon Swing

Another adrenaline-junkie favorite, the Shotover Canyon Swing, offers almost 70 different jump styles. Swing out over the jagged rock edge. Taking in the full force of the Shotover canyons as you plummet over a 200-meter arc. The options for creative leapers are endless, from backflips to bungy-style dives. This experience embodies the true Queenstown spirit of pushing personal limits while having an incredible amount of fun.

10. Lake Wakatipu Cruise

Discover the stunning coastline and hidden gems of Lake Wakatipu with a cruise that takes you to the heart of this beautiful alpine setting. The TSS Earnslaw is a vintage steamship that offers a scenic day out, complete with onboard entertainment. Choose from a variety of sailings, including morning tea trips, lunch or dinner cruises, and even special events. The Lake serves as an elegant backdrop for relaxation, while enjoying the charm and history of the vessel.

11. Arrowtown Exploration

Step back in time and visit the enchanting historic village of Arrowtown. Located a short distance from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a delightful day trip or a peaceful retreat. This former gold-mining town is characterized by its quaint streets, preserved heritage buildings, and an inviting, peaceful atmosphere. Explore the Chinese settlement, visit the Lakes District Museum, or take a leisurely walk along the Arrow River. Arrowtown also hosts a range of charming cafes and restaurants, making it an ideal stop for a relaxed meal.

12. Skyline Luge Adventure

The Skyline Luge is the perfect adventure for the young and young at heart. No experience is necessary to hurtle down a half-mile of track—it’s gravity-fueled fun that offers a mix of thrill and fantastic views. For each ride, choose from the more leisurely ‘Scenic Track’ or the faster-paced ‘Advanced Track’. With a scenic gondola ride included in the package to reach the top, this combo experience is a great end to an action-packed day in Queenstown.

Queenstown is a treasure trove of experiences that balance the edge of exhilaration with moments of tranquility and pure natural splendor. It’s a destination where the beauty of the environment is only matched by the warmth of its people and the diversity of its offerings. Whether you’re ticking off must-do adventures or discovering the local charm. Queenstown will undoubtedly leave you with a sense of awe and a wealth of memories.

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