Queenstown Travel Guide
Introduction to Queenstown
Known to active travellers as The Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown is can’t miss travel destination for lovers of excitement and the outdoors. Even if you have no desire to test the limits of your body and spirit, the scenery in this area makes this place impossible to ignore on a tour of New Zealand’s South Island.
Main Attractions in Queenstown
The scenery in the Queenstown area is some of the most spectacular in all of New Zealand. Take it all in by renting a car and taking it for a drive along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.
Ending at the charming village of Glenorchy, this 45-kilometre highway will take longer to drive than you might expect, as you will be stopping constantly to snap photos of the breathtaking mountains which will surround you throughout your journey. Just be sure to pull over fully so you don’t hold up traffic.
Back in town, spend an hour within the grounds of the Queenstown Garden. Its lush trees and colourful flower beds mesh perfectly with placidness of Lake Wakatipu, and the mountains which rise around the townsite.
Started by the first mayor of Queenstown, J. W. Robertson, it contains a variety of trees he planted at the start of this green space, ranging from Black Oaks to Monkey Puzzle Trees. In addition to these and a plethora of beautiful flowers (which are in full bloom from mid-spring to early summer), there are also two memorials honouring Robert Falcon Scott (perished on an expedition to Antarctica in 1912) and William Gilbert Rees (the first European settler to arrive in the area in 1860).
Together with recreation facilities (e.g. tennis courts, a disc golf course, etc), it is a wonderful place to be on a sunny day in Queenstown.
At some point during your visit to Queenstown, go on a scenic cruise of Lake Wakatipu. Stretching 80 kilometres from end to end, this body of water is New Zealand’s longest, and it is the country’s third largest lake.
Surrounded by peaks through most of its length, you will have plenty of amazing photographic opportunities throughout the 90-minute cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw. With a snack and drink bar, and even a pianist on the ship, it will likely be a highlight of your trip to Queenstown.
Outdoor activities in Queenstown
Want to get moving during your Queenstown holiday, but not keen on throwing yourself off a bridge with only an elastic tied to your legs? Lucky for you, there are plenty of amazing hiking trails which can be trekked in the area.
Queenstown Hill is a popular walk, but be warned, as this track will make you earn the stellar views possible from its apex. With an elevation change of over 500 metres (over 1,600 feet), you’ll feel the burn in your legs and lungs as you charge up the mountain, but the view of the town, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables mountain range will be your just reward.
Ben Lomond Track is another trail highly recommended by locals and active travellers. This trek is even more strenuous, so it is recommended you bring lots of water and have a decent level of fitness.
Bring a good pair of hiking boots, as ice and snow linger up here well into the spring. Total time to the summit: 8 hours, so start early to avoid walking down in the dark.
If you are looking to up the ante in your life, Queenstown is the best place to do this. From bungee jump platforms from which the first daredevils cheated death decades ago to giant swings that will give you the thrill of your life, you can do it all here.
Street luging, skydiving, whitewater rafting – whatever your flavour of adrenaline sports, Queenstown’s got it. Stop in at a tour agency and find out what’s on offer and they’ll find you an activity that will give you the thrill of your life.
Want to shred powder in the Queenstown area during the winter? There are plenty of snowsport resorts in the area which offer wide open alpine runs between June and October. Treble Cone is ideal for intermediates and advanced shredders, the Remarkables Ski Area is the best spot for beginners, while Coronet Peak is the most balanced resort (and closest to Queenstown).