Things to do in Queenstown
Getting out there and 'doing' is really what Queenstown is all about. Skiing was the first drawcard, but now it shares the limelight with a multitude of ways to test your bravery. If you can think of a way to get adrenaline pumping, Queenstown's budding entrepreneurs have probably tried at some stage to make a tourist attraction out of it. Queenstown also has a full range of more gentle attractions, including relaxing tours, and luxury spas.
Skiing & snowboarding - There are four large commercial ski fields, and two specialist fields easily accessible from Queenstown. There are also a number of heli-skiing providers.
- Coronet Peak - The closest to Queenstown, about 15 min from the Centre of town via a sealed access road (all other ski fields have unsealed/gravel access roads), features a full range of slopes.
- Remarkables - Nestled in the Remarkable Mountain range which towers above the airport. Slightly smaller than Coronet, but still easily accessible from town. New lifts/runs and an access road upgrade for 2014.
- Cardrona - In the crown range, approximately 60 min (58 km) from Queenstown along the windy Crown Range Road. It features mostly mid-level terrain and a large terrain park.
- Snow Park - In the crown range across the other side of the valley from Cardrona, the Snow Park is a Snowboard orientated world class Terrain park. Due to recent sale was closed in 2013 unlikely to be open to the public in 2014 - still hosts events and private functions/training.
- Snow Farm - Next to Snow Park, this is a specialist cross country ski area.
- Treble Cone - The furthest field from Queenstown, about an hour and a half away. Usually visited by people based in Wanaka, Treble Cone is seen as more of a skiers field and generally features more advanced terrain.
There are dozens of attractions and providers. The information centre in town acts as a booking centre and is a great place to start inquiries. Otherwise most businesses will have a store in the CBD where they can arrange things for you. Hostels and hotels also generally have a stack of pamphlets showing what is on offer, and staff are generally happy to help with recommendations and bookings. All providers generally provide transfers if needed.
- AJ Hackett Bungy, , toll-free: 0800 286 4958. The world's first commercial bungee jump was established by these guys on the Kawarau Bridge in 1988. AJ Hackett also operates the Ledge bungee from the top of the skyline gondola, and the Nevis Highwire Platform out of town in the Gibston valley, the third highest bungee jumping platform in the world at a height of 134 metres (440 ft). $195-$275. Minimum age is 10 years (13 years for Nevis).
- Jet boats. Exciting jetboat rides have been operating near Queenstown for 50 years. The jet boats carry passengers at high speeds over shallow waters performing stunts like 360 degree pirouettes in the water.
- Shotover Jet, Gorge Road, Arthurs Point, , toll-free: 0800 74 68 68. The original Shotover Jet is billed as "The World's Most Exciting Jetboat Ride". Adult $129, child (5-15) $69. Minimum height 120cm (3ft 11in).
- Kawarau Jet launches into Lake Wakatipu from the centre of town.
- Luge. Is fun filled gravity ride for all ages and abilities. You control your own gravity propelled vehicle down the track. Choose from two tracks, one scenic and gentle, the other advanced and adventurous. Children need to be at least 6 years old and 110cm (3ft 7in) tall to ride alone; those younger or shorter can ride in tandem with an adult.
- Mountain Biking package tours are available which include transport to specific locations. Or you can just hire a bike, grab a map and some tips and explore yourself. There is also a downhill service based on the Gondola, where you can buy a day pass and use it as a lift for repeated runs, and Rabbit Ridge, a trail centre located in Gibston Valley, with over 40km of tracks and shuttles.
- Parasailing available on lake Wakatipu
- Parapenting/Paragliding - launching yourself off a hill with a parachute to ride the "thermals"
- Quad-bike Tours - are available, some of which are specifically designed to take in Lord of the Rings film locations.
- Riverboarding - Swimming through rapids on a bodyboard.
- Mad Dog Riverboarding, 37 Shotover Street, . The most action packed and personally challenging white water activity you can do!
- NZONE Skydive, 35 Shotover St, toll-free: 0800 DROPZONE, e-mail:[email protected]. First commercial tandem skydive company in New Zealand, operating since 1990.
- White water rafting - Single and multi-day options, including a chance to go 'black water rafting' through an underground tunnel.
- Ziptrek Ecotours - New Zealand's #1 Original Zipline Tour. Amazing zipline tours through the forest high up on Bobs Peak and accessed by the Skyline Gondola. A fully guided tour with cool tree house architecture interconnected by fun ziplines, stunning views and a little bit of education on the environment, Queenstown history and local flora & fauna.
- Cruising - lake cruises on Lake Wakatipu offer great views of the town, surrounding mountains, etc. The TSS Earnslaw is a popular historic steam ship which offers daily tours. There are also private charter providers.
- Cycling - hire a bike for the day and use your legs. There is a cycle path which runs around the edge of the lake from the centre of town to the golf course opposite.
- Off the Rails. operate guided cycle tours on the world famous Otago Rail Trail from Sept to May. Departing from Queenstown. Includes bike hire, accommodation, breakfasts and transport.
- Horseback riding - there are some great tours that pick up in Queenstown and take you into the valleys, through rivers, etc. Pamphlets can be collected at any hotel or hostel to explore the dozens of horseback tours
- Fishing and flyfishing - Lake Wakatipu is known for trout. You cannot buy fish from lakes in New Zealand, you have to fish for them yourself. Flyfishing is also available locally.
- Garden Tours - Queenstown has a number of superb private gardens as well as the centrally located public Queenstown Gardens jutting out into Lake Wakatipu. The walking track on the lake edge offers excellent views of Queenstown and surrounding mountains.
- Queenstown Garden Tours. Operate small group garden tours to 3 private residential gardens in and around Queenstown during spring & summer.
- Golf - there are six golf clubs in town, with facilities (and green fees) ranging from everyday to five star.
- Hiking - Queenstown Hill behind the town can be climbed in about 3/4 hours for a fantastic view (and unlike most things in Queenstown it's free). There is also a nice track around the lake.
- Scenic flights - the helicopter and light aircraft flights around Queenstown and to Milford Sound and Fiordland are rated amongst the best in the world. It is easily possible to fly from Queenstown in the morning, cruise Milford Sound over lunch, before returning to Queenstown in the afternoon, replacing what could otherwise be two days on the road.
- Glenorchy Air, Queenstown Airport, . Scenic flights to Milford Sound, Mount Cook and the Glaciers
- HeliWorks, Queenstown Airport, . Exciting scenic flights in & around Queenstown & Milford Sound, Lord of the Rings flights with the pilots who filmed the trilogy.
- Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, 35 Lucas Place, Queenstown Airport, toll-free: 0800 801 616, fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. Offers a selection of daily scenic flights over the iconic landscapes of the Wakatipu and Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks. Alpine or snow landings are part of all their flights or you can discover the uniqueness of a glacier landing, included in all their Milford Sound experiences.
- Touring - the scenery surrounding Queenstown makes for excellent touring, with lakes, mountains and bush around vineyards and farmland. There are also a number of specific 'Lord of the Rings' themed tours which take in local film sites for the movie series.
- Wine tasting. The southernmost vineyards in the world are close by.
- Appellation Central Wine Tours. Appellation Central's team of specialists guides will host you on a memorable day out in Central Otago wine country. Small group tours depart daily from Queenstown.Queenstown Wine Trail. operate daily departing guided wine tours to renowned Queenstown & Bannockburn wineries