Choose from 19 Fun Things to Do in Queenstown
- The weather in Milford Sound can be unpredictable, so prepare for wind and rain even in summer.
- If hiking, wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as places to purchase supplies are limited.
- Cell phone coverage is limited, but free Wi-Fi is available at the Milford Sound Information Center.
- Most Milford Sound cruises are wheelchair accessible, but not all activities within Fiordland National Park are accessible to those with limited mobility, so it’s best to check in advance.
If you're seeking the thrill of a fine glass of wine or a round of golf then Central Otago could be just your place. The hottest, coldest and driest part of New Zealand is also home to some of its most adorable towns and finer vineyards.
The capital of Central Otago is Alexandra and its boutique hotels are a great base for exploring. The highlights of Central Otago (besides its gourmet delights) include the very well-preserved gold-rush towns of Ophir and St Bathans, the art-deco charms of Ranfurly and the picturesque orchards of the fruit-bowl area surrounding Cromwell.
Eleven golf courses dot the countryside and curling (the ancient Scottish sport) is popular in Naseby where you can play in year-round facilities. Otherwise the majority of action takes place along the Central Otago Rail Trail with walkers, cyclists and horse riders all enjoying the gentle gradient of the former railway line.
Queenstown is 40 minutes drive from Cromwell and an hour’s drive from Alexandra. Dunedin is 2.5 hours drive from Alexandra. A car is the best way to explore the area, moving at your own relaxed pace.
Located two hours north of Te Anau on the road towards Milford Sound, the Hollyford Track is often overlooked in lieu of the Routeburn, Kepler, or Milford tracks. Whereas these more popular hikes weave their way through the mountains of the Southern Alps, the Hollyford meanders along the length of a valley which winds towards the Tasman Sea. It’s an area that Maori once used as a trade route for harvesting and selling pounamu (jade), and much of the wilderness remains entirely unchanged since the Maori once wandered this valley.
Following the length of the Hollyford Valley, the trail makes its way over multiple bridges which span the Hollyford River. It’s a corner of New Zealand which is much less frequented than many of the surrounding hikes, and it’s the perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts who are looking to avoid the crowds.
Given its length, however, anyone planning to hike on the Hollyford Track should be sure to arrive prepared. This 34-mile trek from the trailhead to the sea is often completed in four nights, but nearly all trekkers must turn back around and hike back the way they came. Along the way are six different huts which offer primitive backcountry bunks, and camping is allowed outside of the huts for those who have packed their own gear. Whereas the majority of hikers return along the same route, the truly intrepid can return to the trailhead along the rugged Pyke-Big Bay Track. There are also huts along this route to accommodate visiting trekkers, although the trail itself is best reserved for the most accomplished of backcountry navigators.
Even though hiking the Hollyford can be a logistical challenge, however, rewards for the effort can literally be found around every bend in the trail. Watch the sunrise over the waters of Lake Mckerrow, and walk in the shadow of glacially-formed mountains which pierce upwards towards the sky. Trek to a beach which is inaccessible by road, and scan the shoreline for Fiordland crested penguins or even the occasional seal. The Hollyford Track offers long-distance trekking away from all the crowds, and it’s the lone conduit through a segment of the South Island which has rarely been touched by man.
Hop into a 4WD off-road vehicle available via one of the many guided tours and shoot photos to your hearts delight, while you are navigated through Skipper’s Road, being recited the canyons plentiful and rural history.
For a more romantic experience, Skipper’s wine tours are also a popular and fulfilling way to spend your time here. What could be better than enjoying Queenstown’s mouth-watering venison over a glass of locally made wine in the breadth of New Zealand? Feel free to explore the happening local art-scene on your way to gorgeous Gibbston Valley, take a scenic walk along the mountain road, or just spend your time relaxing at the wineries.
Since many visitors who come to Skipper’s Canyon are here for relaxation and the wonderful landscape, amenities for those who are physically limited are well off, with many services offering air-conditioned and quite comfortable minibus tours throughout the area, including picking you up from your accommodation.
- Alternate routes down the mountain include walking tracks in the Ben Lomond Reserve and mountain biking trails in the Queenstown Bike Park (in season)
- Family bundles—with return fare for two adults and a maximum of three kids—offer good cost savings
- Skyline stargazing tours must be booked at least 24 hours in advance
- Maximize your Queenstown experience with a discounted combo ticket for a gondola ride plus other local adventures, like skydiving, bungee jumping, a helicopter ride, a jet boat tour, or canyon swinging
- Kids under 3 feet 6 inches tall (110 centimeters) must ride in tandem with an adult
- From the safety of a nearby platform paralleling the gorge, spectators can snap photos and watch in delight as bungee jumpers leap from the bridge.
- The jump only takes about five seconds to complete, and a raft delivers you back to shore.
- Specially trained staff provide instruction and attach you safely with a harness to the launch site.
- To see the Kawarau Suspension Bridge from an entirely different angle, consider a rafting tour or other water activity down the Kawarau River.
- The region is a must-visit for nature lovers and water-sports enthusiasts.
- Tours, activities, and day trips most often include hotel pickup and drop-off.
- Remember to dress for variable weather, bring sturdy footwear, and wear sun protection.
- Tour options are available for families with kids and solo adventurers alike.
- Be sure to dress in layers, as wind can pick up suddenly.
- Tours range from short, 90-minute excursions to full-day, 8-hour adventures.
When to Get There
Cool jumps, tunnels, trails, and even a bouncy castle at the crèche are available for children of all ages, while snow-sports schools are waiting for adults who have put off the slopes for too long.
You can also have a look at how the pros do it, with international competitions that take place. See boarders go sky-high off the half-pipes, or see renowned skier’s flow between slaloms at immense speeds.
Located just 26 miles south of Queenstown, the short 45-minute detour to the Remarkables is well worth your time. No car? No problem. Daily shuttle services are also available to and from Queenstown. You can also feel free to book one of the many available guided tours, which will take you though the nooks and crannies of the mountains’ valley’s and peaks.
- Coronet Peak is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, and with daycare options and free passes for children under 5 years old, it’s a great ski field for families.
- Temperatures on the mountain can dip below freezing, so make sure to wear boots, warm layers, and waterproof jackets and pants.
- Ski and snowboarding gear, jackets, pants, and helmets are all available for rent from Coronet Peak’s rental shop.
- If heading to the nearby Remarkables ski field the next day, you can have your rental gear transferred to the field.
- Coronet Peak has two cafés and a restaurant that are open for most of the day. If you fancy a wine or beer while looking out over the Southern Alps, the Ice Bar is located just off the M1 trail.