The steep ascent of Queenstown Hill is a must do when visiting the Southern Alps. Not far from the city centre, forest tracks take energetic visitors on a rocky adventure lasting just under an hour before presenting them at the Basket of Dreams, a spiral steel sculpture by artist Caroline Robinson. The basket asks visitors to draw stimulation from the surroundings and dream of the future, inspiring an inward journey that can be done whilst taking in the magnificent surrounding views, stretching across Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, and many other spectacular mountains of Queenstown.
Freestyle at the trampoline park
Just try resisting the squeals and delight induced by SITE, Queenstown’s giant trampoline park. Over 30 interconnected trampolines can be found here, including 7 olympic quality tramps and a section that covers the wall for the truly adventurous. Far more than a bit of fun for kids, this sport is said to increase ariel awareness, flexibility and core strength, making it a popular activity for local snowboarders and skiers. SITE also has an area dedicated to the up and coming activities of parkour and freerunning, allowing experimentation in a safe environment. Freestyle jumping costs $15 for 30 minutes, and is sure to bring about adrenalin that will stay with you for hours.
Tiki trail to Bob’s peak
Those who don’t want to take the rise to Bob’s Peak in the Skyline Gondola can opt for the free walk along the tiki trail. The 45 minute walk zigzags through the deliciously scented pine forest before arriving at the top of the mountain, where breathtaking vistas over Queenstown can be admired. Once in the area of Bob’s Peak you can sign up to various other heart-pounding activities, such as paragliding, the luge, bungy jumping or mountain biking. Alternatively you can relax at Skyline’s Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar over wine and antipasto.
Visit the underwater observatory
Take a peek at life under the waters of Lake Wakatipu at the underwater observatory. From a 16-kilogram eel to playful diving ducks and numerous fish, this attraction is fun for all ages. The centre also offers an educational element, telling the Maori mythological history of the lake. With an affordable ticket price of just $10 for adults, watching water creatures enjoy their habitat is an easy and enjoyable way to waste a day in Queenstown.
Walk along the lake Wakatipu
Stretching just over 80-kilomeres in length, lake Wakatipu is the longest lake in New Zealand, and a picturesque natural landmark of the Otago region. Dubbed the NZ Loch Ness thanks to its geographic similarities to the famed Scottish lake, its surrounding mountains and forests make it a breathtaking body of water to visit. Though the hub of Queenstown sprawls over the Wakatipu, a walk along more remote parts of the lakes is a great outdoor activity to be saved for a day when you’re left wondering what to do in Queenstown.
Go on a $1 jet boat ride or $8 kayak hire
Taking a jet boat ride has become one of the most iconic Queenstown activities, and a symbol of the area’s adoration for adrenalin. Those who sign up for the thrill will find themselves flung to the corners of the stunning waterways of Queenstown, coming frightfully close to cliff edges and rock faces. For those who would like to take to up a more subdued water experience, a casual kayak session offers the perfect alternative.
Things to do in Queenstown
If intimate community gatherings of self expressions and radical ideologies are your festival jam, then Queenstown’s Biophilia Festival will suit you just perfectly. Expect the 3-day event to feature clean living practises, mindfulness workshops, vegan meals and plenty of Yoga. All set to a picturesque mountain backdrop.
Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow
Coined the most unique air show in the world, Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow was first held in 1988 and has grown to attract to attract over 50,000 visitors to its biennial Easter event. Viewers get to admire classic aircrafts as they dance through the sky in a bid to preserve New Zealand's aviation heritage.
Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival
Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival is a ‘by the people for the people’ celebration aimed to promote the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown whilst marking the end of the busy visitor season. 50 events fill the 10 day event, including a street parade, markets, and lively dance and music.
Luma Southern Light Project
Since 2015, Queenstown’s artistic culture has been illuminated by the Luma Southern Light Project, held over four nights each June. A fantastical display of light and colour, it sets a magical theme to the town’s nighttime hours, offering a playground of displays at various venues across Queenstown.
Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival
Not many places celebrate the arrival of a chilly winter, but when your a snow loving city like Queenstown, it calls for a festival. The Queenstown Winter Festival features comedy events, live music, ice-skating, fireworks, and plenty more to kick off the season with spirit.
Top 5 Festivals in Queenstown
Leave your inhibitions and expectations in your hometown and and step into one of Queenstown’s diverse festival offerings. Whether you’re after a radical bout of self-expression and Yoga or a series of light installations to rival aurora borealis, you’ll find something that sparks your interest on this festival calendar.
Ivan Clarke Gallery
The gallery of famed New Zealand artist Ivan Clarke is a must visit when exploring Queenstown. The sophisticated setting of regal frames and considered lighting sits in contrast to his playful works of personified dogs. The gallery is now also home to works by his daughter, Raquel, who takes a fine art approach to the New Zealand landscape.
Hetties Rock & Crystal Shop
New Zealand is home to many precious gemstones such as jade and ruby, a symbol of the country's natural abundance. The country's oldest rock and crystal shop is Hetties, where a collection of rare crystals, gemstones, rocks, minerals and fossils can be admired and purchased. They also have stores in Christchurch and Akaroa, and boast their own manufacturing workshops.
The Ivy Box
It’s hard to believe the foliage covered, lakeside building of Ivy Box was once a butchery, given its current state as a soul-filled art gallery. Featuring works by local artist Lynda Hensman, visiting this space is a chance to connect directly with creativity. Their opening hours are known only by the presence of a blue chair by the front door; a nod to the laid-back atmosphere of the gallery.
Queenstown Arts Centre
With almost 4 decades of history under its belt, the Queenstown Arts Centre has become a respected institute of arts in the region. With 14 studio spaces, a rotation of progressive exhibitions and numerous workshops on offer, art lovers will find this one of the loveliest things to do in Queenstown.
Central Art Gallery
The pokey boutique space of Central Art Gallery is a perfect summary of the Queenstown art scene, in which traditional fine art paintings and the rugged New Zealand landscape are a central theme. With almost 100 artists featured within the gallery’s walls, it’s impossible not to find something that speaks to you.
Top 5 Museums and Galleries in Queenstown
Looking at the curation of museums in Queenstown makes one thing abundantly clear: this is a region with an artistic heart. No doubt inspired by the dramatic scenery and peaceful way of life found here, many artists call Queenstown home...meaning there are numerous art galleries to inspire your visit.
A hamburger haunt that will go down in the history books, Fergburger has acquired over 11,000 TripAdvisor reviews, an astounding number for a single burger store. Expect a long queue and lengthy wait rewarded by tall and juicy burgers with perfect fries and essential shakes.
Best eaten at 42 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300
Riding off the success of their burger haunt, the Ferg crew opened a neighbouring bakery in 2011, offering breads, sandwiches, pastries, cakes and pies worthy of as much acclaim as their burgers. Try a blueberry pie or pulled pork baguette to refuel after a long day of adventure.
Best eaten at Fergbaker, 40 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300
Winter weather shouldn't stop you dropping into one of Queenstown's many ice-creameries for a few scoops of artisan dessert. Mrs Ferg Gelateria offers a heavenly array of traditional gelato in a decedent Swiss snow chalet setting. Hokey pokey needs to be top of your list.
Best eaten at Mrs Ferg Gelateria, 40 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300
Decades of debate have drawn no conclusion on the ownership of pavlova. But irrespective of whether it's a Kiwi or Aussie invention, you need to try it here in Queenstown. Public Kitchen & Bar serve an unimaginably good pav covered in cream and fresh fruits, the perfect accompaniment to their Japanese Garden Martini.
Best eaten at Public Kitchen & Bar, Steamer Wharf/Beach, Queen 9300
A mouthwatering burger alternative exists for those not keen on the queue at Fergburger. Poached pears, grilled portobello mushrooms, brie cheese, and apricot relish are just some of the items you'll find sandwiched between lashings of bacon and juicy beef at Devil Burger.
Best eaten at Devil Burger, 5/11 Church St, Queenstown 9300
Food in Queenstown
Though there are many activities in Queenstown that will require an empty stomach (hello bungee jumping), a sizable amount of your time in this town should be spent devouring food. From fine dining restaurants to burger haunts with an international cult following, this city knows how to put on a culinary spread - the perfect start to a night enjoying Queenstown nightlife.