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The 11 best things to do in Queenstown

Make the most of your time in New Zealand’s adventure capital with the most thrilling things to do in Queenstown

Written by
Megan Singleton

The best things to do in Queenstown really pack a lot in. Not only is it the largest ski resort in the country (during the peak season the picturesque Southern Alps are dotted with snow bunnies like kiwifruit on giant white pavlovas), but it’s also the home of bungy jumping and all manner of heart-stopping adventure activities. Food and wine-lovers are well catered-for, too.

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Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Best things to do in Queenstown

Kawarau bungy jump
AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

1. Kawarau bungy jump

What is it? The original and best bungy jump experience.

Why go? This is the home of bungy jumping, founded by AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch in 1988, and is a pilgrimage for the fearless who want to tie their ankles together and leap off the 43m bridge over the Kawarau River. Located along Highway 6 on the gateway to Queenstown, it’s worth visiting just to watch people scream their way to the water – even if you don’t want to try it. They also offer more sedate canyon swing and zipline experiences.

Ziptrek Ecotours
Ziptrek Eco Tours

2. Ziptrek Ecotours

What is it? Guided zip-line tours through the treetops of Queenstown.

Why go? For the joy of zooming through the trees, accompanied by two guides taking care of the technical side and sharing their knowledge about the forest. The newly launched Kereru Tour, named after the native wood pigeon, comprises two swooping zip-lines and a 21-metre drop to the forest floor, emulating the flight of the kereru. The experience is also a great opportunity to learn New Zealand’s conservation story.

Skyline Queenstown
Skyline Queenstown

3. Skyline Queenstown

What is it? A gondola ride up the mountain with activities and dining at the summit.

Why go? The killer views of the stunning lake and mountain ranges. Another reason is for the adrenalin activities on offer at the top: luge, mountain biking, and (for the true adventure-seekers) paragliding. Alternatively, just watch everyone else from the comfort of the restaurant.

Ignition Self Drive
Ignition Self Drive

4. Ignition Self Drive

What is it? Luxury sports car rental.

Why go? Because the local roads around Queenstown are simply made for luxury sports cars! Put your foot to the floor along the Glenorchy Road or over the Crown Range to Wanaka in an Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi R8 or a luxury SUV for a road trip with style. Just don’t get caught hurtling with the wind in your hair over 100kph.

Queenstown Wine Trail
Esther Small

5. Queenstown Wine Trail

What is it? A family owned wine touring company offering personalised and group experiences.

Why go? Central Otago is the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand, with vineyards set against backdrops of snow-covered mountains and crisp blue skies. Tailor a private tour to suit your own tastes or join a small group tour to visit some of the finest wineries in the Queenstown and Bannockburn regions.

Jack's Point Golfing

6. Jack's Point Golfing

What is it? A scenic golf course located less than half an hour from downtown Queenstown.

Why go? There are seven golf courses in Queenstown, ranging from simple fairways with rugged mountain backdrops to the lush greens of championship resort courses. Our pick of the bunch is the stunning Jack’s Point, located at the foot of the Remarkables mountain range. Designed around the natural landscape, it weaves through native tussock, rugged rock outcrops, steep bluffs and native bush to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. It’s also a championship par 72 course and fully set up for club, cart and even shoe hire. Finish your round with a local beer and a meal at the Clubhouse Restaurant.


7. Arrowtown

What is it? An historic gold rush village on the Arrow River, about 20 minutes’ drive from Queenstown.

Why go? If you visit in autumn, you’ll witness Arrowtown’s famous gold, red and yellow palette. That said, it’s worth visiting any time of the year; there’s the cute cinema/bar hybrid Dorothy Browns, the Remarkable Sweet Shop, and lots of souvenir shops selling sheep skins, possum fur clothing, knitwear and fun gifts. There’s even a little museum celebrating the gold rush history of this region.

Shotover Jet
Shotover Jet

8. Shotover Jet

What is it? A breathtaking jet boat ride in the Shotover River Canyons.

Why go? To feel the thrill of 360-degree turns in impossibly narrow canyons – and because Wills and Kate did it when they visited New Zealand. The pro drivers show off their skills within the remarkable landscape, which means you’ll have no time to take a photo. Best bet is to strap a GoPro to your life jacket and relive the ride later.

Ferg Burger
Ferg Burger

9. Ferg Burger

What is it? The most famous burger joint in Queenstown.

Why go? To complete the Queenstown ritual of lining up at any time of the day or night for Ferg’s housemade buns, prime New Zealand beef patties and fresh and delicious fillings. There are even some vegetarian and vegan options. You’ll be lucky to get a table though so it’s best to take it to a bench by the lake and enjoy.

Botswana Butchery
Botswana Butchery

10. Botswana Butchery

What is it? A meat-lover’s paradise set in the gorgeous historic Archer’s Cottage, complete with lake views.

Why go? To enjoy their five-hour slow roasted lamb shoulder, best shared between three or four. It falls off the bone. What more do you need?

Mountain Biking

11. Mountain Biking

What is it? Hilly bike trails for all levels of riders.

Why go? For the chance to get out into the fresh air and hit some of the best mountain biking tracks in the world. From downhill heli-riding to trail riding, cross-country or a leisurely roll down a scenic track, you’ll find a ride to suit everyone. Book a guided tour to ensure that you’re using the best equipment – safety first!

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