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Things to do in Queenstown | Cheap flights | Getting around | Where to stay | Food & Wine

Queenstown, an award-winning destination

Queenstown New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Award-Winning Destinations

Once upon a time, Queenstown was a town. Now it's recognized as the leading city in New Zealand and its continent.

Queenstown, New Zealand picked up the 2020 World Travel Awards for Best Leading City in Oceania. And this is why…

Generally, the Kiwis (another name for New Zealanders) are friendly, easy-going people with a great sense of humor. 

New Zealand is the country of Lord of the Rings, of which Queenstown has a few scenes too.

But that is only one part of this holiday destination’s attraction.

Known as the adventure capital of the world, expect to enjoy many thrilling experiences. For instance, world-class surfing, skiing, white water rafting, bungy jumping, heli-skiing, sky diving (the ultimate experience in adrenaline activities), paragliding, zipline riding, and many more…

Getting Around in Queenstown

Another favorable feature is that you don’t need to have your own transport in Queenstown. Catch a taxi from the airport to your accommodation.

Once you’re in town, most places are within easy reach on foot or by public transport (which is very efficient).

Furthermore, most (if not all) excursions include some form of transport to get you where you should be.

Cheap Flights to Queenstown

Queenstown Airport (IATA: ZQN, ICAO: NZQN) is in Frankton, Otago, New Zealand, and serves the resort town of Queenstown. Queenstown Airport is your gateway to the Southern Lakes of New Zealand. Find flight information below.

best things to do in queenstown new zealand sightseeing travel to queenstown in NewZealand min

Tours to and from Queenstown NZ

10 Best Things to Do in Queenstown, NZ

1. Lake Wakatipu

It’s a tourist’s paradise with over 50 tours, experiences, and activities on and around the spectacular lake!

The length of the lake is 80 kilometers (50 mi), making it New Zealand’s longest lake. It’s also the country’s third-largest lake at 291 km sq (112 sq mi). The lake’s floor is below sea level – as deep as 380 meters (1,250 ft).

BEST TIME to swim in Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

The best time to swim in the lake is between January and March when the surface temperature of the lake water is generally between 14.5°C and 16.5°C – warmer than this is usually a rare find.

In general, also keep in mind that December/January is known for the most rainfall.  July has less rain and is the coldest month.

Click here to read more about Queenstown’s climate and weather conditions.

Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Southern Alps Landscape New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, Southern Alps

2. Skippers Bridge

The Skippers area (about 25 minutes from Queenstown) is part of Mount Aurum Recreation Reserve. There is only one way to enter the reserve. 

  • On Gorge Road to Arthur’s Point, take the turn-off to Coronet Peak ski field.
  • Turn left onto the gravel road signposted to Skippers.
  • Continue to Skippers Bridge and Mount Aurum Recreation Reserve. 

The single-lane bridge is suspended on 14 wire cables.

The spectacular bridge is 91 m above the Shotover River, and 96 m long, making it one of the highest bridges in New Zealand.

“The Skippers Canyon Suspension Bridge (opened in 1901) is a Heritage New Zealand Category 1 historic place, and in 2013 it was added to the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register.” – You can read more about the history of the suspension bridge at

3. Skippers Road

Skippers Road is one of those gravel roads where your car rental insurance will not cover the narrow and winding 13 km. That kind of gives it away, does it not!? Yes, it’s the kind of road I would not recommend driving if you have a fear of heights. Rather leave the driving to seasoned drivers, while you enjoy the breathtaking views.

It is for the views that this road venture is a must. Your camera will not stop clicking as you follow the side of Skippers Canyon. 

Its heritage goes back to New Zealand’s gold mining days, around the 1860s, when Skippers Road was an access route hand-carved by miners. An engineering wonder at the time.

Even if you do have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, I strongly recommend booking the experience as a tour. Then, you don’t have to worry about not being able to pass another vehicle, and having to backtrack in reverse gear. The vertical drop into the Shotover River makes for unforgettable memories.

Alternatively, you may want to do Skippers Road on a mountain bike.

4. Lord of the Rings - Skippers Canyon

New Zealand is Lord of the Rings country. Queenstown is a terrific location to step into Tolkien’s world. 

The Lord of the Rings fans will recognize Skippers Canyon (location for the Ford of Bruinen) from the scene at The Fellowship of the Ring. Access is from Skippers Road.

Arwen leads the Ringwraiths when they pursue her and Frodo. They stop just before the gorge, seemingly hesitant to enter the water. Then Arwen says to them, “If you want him, come and claim him.” 

Arwen uses her magic to call upon the river when the Ringwraiths finally do attempt to claim him.

In this epic moment, the water transforms into horses that run down the creatures. In doing so, it allows Arwen and Frodo to escape safely into Rivendell. The escape was not without challenges. Frodo almost doesn’t make it to Rivendell. To get Frodo there, Arwen must grant him some of the immortality she’s been given.

Skippers Canyon Gorge Valley
Skippers Canyon, Gorge Valley

Also, go see Lake Alta (Dimrill Dale), a glacial lake in The Remarkables and part of the skiing slopes in winter.

  • Coordinates: 45° 03’46.8″S 168°48’41.2″E – view in Google maps (external site)
  • Access: On the eastern side of Lake Wakatipu, turn off SH6 at the signposted junction to the Remarkables ski area. 

And then there is also the Twelve Mile Delta (Ithilien Camp), a beautiful lakeside campground. Access is from Queenstown Road.

5. Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown is jampacked with adventure. It’s a dream destination for outdoor activities. But sometimes you want to take it a bit slower. The solution then is to visit Queenstown Gardens.

There are plenty of benches where you can sit and relax, read a book, or just absorb the beautiful and well-maintained gardens.

segway tour
Click above for more info about the Segway tour with Viator

Meander on your own through the gardens or join a 1 to 2-hour Segway guided tour to see the best on the shores of the lake.

Another time-out activity, that will be worth every minute of the 60-minute duration, is an Instagram photoshoot by local professionals. They know where to find all the hidden gems. That alone makes it worth it. 

instagram selfie spots
Click above for more info about the Instagram photoshoot with Viator

6. The Remarkables

Now, this is not a music band or a science group. It is in fact a picture-perfect mountain range overlooking Queenstown, with the highest peak at 1,943 m. 

From June to October, it’s the place to be for snow-ski. The Remarkables is fantastic for families and beginners with 3 km of beginner slopes to play on. Then there is about 4 km for intermediate skiing (red slopes) and another 3 km for more skilled skiing (black slopes). For more fun, there is a snowpark, and then you have 7 lifts to take you up the mountain. Of which 3 are T-bars and 4 are chairlifts.

Thus, not a very large ski resort, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s ideally suited to families and beginner skiers.

The Remarkables mountain range
The Remarkables mountain range

7. Tandem Skydiving in Queenstown

I gave it a miss because of my fear of heights. But, I believe it is an amazing experience and everyone felt safe and secure doing it. I’m good with flying in most aircraft, so the scenic heli-flight was awesome and a great treat.

Hiking Queenstown Hill New Zealand
Queenstown Hill

8. Queenstown Hill - A free, easy, and scenic hike

If you’re not into all the adventurous activities mentioned above, then this hiking trail is for you! Of course, to be rewarded with the most amazing views, also of Lake Wakatipu, you first need to get to the top!  Generally, this is what you can expect…

  • A well-maintained 2.5 km (1.5 mi) trail with breathtaking views, including views of Lake Wakatipu.
  • Allow about two hours for the walk, plus lots of time to pause and absorb the spectacular scenery.
  • If you do a sunrise or sunset walk, pack a flashlight. Do not rely on your mobile phone’s flashlight. If it runs out, you may find yourself in trouble without proper vision.
  • Click on our map when you’re ready to start the hike. Enter your location and the map will show the way to the viewpoint on top of Queenstown Hill.
  • Take at least 1 L of water per person. 
  • Always remember it is colder on top than down below in the town. Prepare accordingly. For instance, pack a wool or synthetic cap to insulate your head. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes, preferably hiking shoes
  • Avoid wearing cotton because it soaks up moisture. On a rainy day, or when you’re sweating your clothes may get damp. Subsequently, you may even catch a cold in cold weather. Besides, cotton is uncomfortable to wear when damp.
  • Don’t pick the mushrooms along the trail. They’re poisonous.
  • You can take your dog along but also take a poop-bag to pick up any ‘droppings’. Also, don’t let them eat the mushrooms because it’s poisonous to animals.

9. Nevis Bungy

This adventurous activity in Queenstown is the highest Bungy jump you’ll get to do in New Zealand. All you need is the courage to throw yourself out of a cable car over a 134-meter (440 ft.) drop. Then, enjoy a freefall that will last only 8.5 seconds (which in my case will be the longest seconds in my entire existence). 

10. Enjoy spectacular scenery while wine-tasting

Go on a wine tour to taste the award-winning wines of Central Otago, a short drive out of town. The regions of Gibbston, Cromwell, and Bannockburn offer a diverse range of wines from the finest and most beautiful wineries. If you opt not to go on a tour, don’t drink and drive. Ask about complimentary pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation.

Queenstown: Home of Fergburger

The Spinoff Reviews New Zealand #98: Fergburger

Queenstown's Leading Accommodation

Award-Winning Hotels & Resorts

Stay in New Zealand's Leading Hotel

Since 2017, the Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa took the New Zealand’s Leading Hotel award from Travel Awards. They won it in 2014 but lost it in 2015. However, they made up for it since then!

Best hotel in New Zealand stay in award winning hotel in Queenstown New Zealand
Travel Tip(s)

Look for free cancellation options: Some hotels offer free cancellation up until a certain date. Booking accommodations with free cancellation can provide flexibility in case your plans change.

Check the map view: has a map view feature that shows the location of hotels. This can help you identify accommodations in areas that are both desirable and affordable.

The Rees Hotel in Queenstown picked up The World Travel Award 2020 as New Zealand’s Leading Hotel Residences.

Plan Your Trip to Queenstown