What to do in Queenstown – Queenstown is a beautiful and adventure packed wee town. Unfortunately, Queenstown is not the most pocket-friendly place for the backpacker, but there are many things to do here on the cheap! Or at least worth throwing some money at.
When to go to Queenstown
Queenstown is fantastic all year round! It really depends on what you want to get out of the trip. If you are a keen skier or snowboarder, and love the snow, and dream of taking those classic snow-capped pictures of the New Zealand mountains, then winter is perfect for you! Go between June – August. If you plan on going skiing, the snow fields do not normally open until around mid-June, and often late June. So, plan to arrive late June or July to ensure you have the best fresh powder! You cannot survive winter in Queenstown without shoes with good grip, and without very warm clothes!
Summer in Queenstown is pretty perfect, giving temperatures normally between 20-30 degreesC. However, the surrounding areas such as Alexandra can have drastic temperatures around 40 degreesC. The types of photos you can expect will be some very green, beautiful landscapes, as well as almost arid landscapes that are just as beautiful. Autumn and Spring are perfect also, pretty average temperatures, not too much rain, not drastically hot.
What to do in Queenstown on the cheap
If you are planning on going to Queenstown in winter, the winter festival is always a lot of fun and free! There are also many events within the festival that are paid events, such as comedy nights. This year, the festival is between 22-25 June, and can change yearly, but will be around the same time.
Within the city there are many opportunities to see the city from a different perspective – go hiking! There are different hikes for every ability! These are all free to do, and give you the chance to get some stunning photos.
The Frankton Track is an easy walk around the Wakatipu lake front. Not all the way around the lake… but around a beautiful section of it. It should take you 1 hour and 3o minutes at a leisurely pace, one way! You can then walk all the way back, or head to the bus stop and wave down the number 11 bus.
The Tiki Trail is the walk you take up to the Bob’s Peak, and to the top of the gondalas/ luge rides. It will take about 1 hour return for a fit person. However, my father walked it and it took him about 1.5 hours one way. It is an uphill climb. The Tiki Trail also takes you to the start of another popular track in Queenstown, the Ben Lomond Track.
Ben Lomond Track
The Ben Lomond track is a lengthy, but doable track, that will give you beautiful views atop the highest peak in Queenstown. This is a full day excursion! It is best not to do this track in winter without proper equipment for walking on snow and ice. Take lots of food, because there will be nothing for you up there. This walk, starting from the bottom of the Tiki Trail should take you around 4-6 hours, but leave early in the morning to give yourself some more time.
This hike will take about 2-3 hours, and gives you a beautiful, uphill walk through pine trees, ending at a lookout point over Queenstown.
Hire a car and explore the surrounding landscapes
Hiring a car in Queenstown is not always expensive! If there is a group of you, you can have a very cheap day. Hiring a car will cost you around $20NZD for the day. You can travel to all of the surrounding towns and view points. A trip to Glenorchy is always worth it. The drive is incredible! The drive up the Crown Range, and out to the famous Cardrona pub is not to be missed! New Zealand is best seen by a good old road trip, so do not leave this out of your list on what to do in Queenstown! It is a cheap way to see a lot, for next to nothing.
Paid Adventure Activities
Queenstown being the adventure capital of New Zealand, has many opportunities to satisfy the adrenaline loving individuals.
Queenstown Skyline Luge
The luge in Queenstown is reached by either climing the Tiki Trail, or by taking the gondola up the hill. You are able to buy a combo deal for the gondola and luge rides. Currently, the price for a return gondola ride and 7 luge rides is $59NZD. Quite pricey!
Skiing and Snowboarding
There are several snow fields near Queenstown, and it is very easy to organise transport to and from the fields. There are many agencies in town that sell packages for ski fields, including gear hire, transport, and lift passes. You just have to decide which package suits you, and which ski field you’d like to go to!
Jet boat rides are very popular in Queenstown. There are many companies, as well as a few locations to do it! Lake Wakatipu jet boat rides are slightly cheaper, while jet boating in the Skippers Canyon is pricier, but almost a bit more fun!
Skippers Canyon is a journey in itself! You are picked up in a big 4wd jeep-type vehicle, and driven down one of the most dangerous roads in New Zealand, with sheer drops much of the way! It is all part of the journey. You are taken to a small, narrow portion of Skipper Canyon river where you dart around the river at crazy speeds. It’s pretty exhilarating.
There are many other activities on offer, such as skydiving, canyoning, bungee jumping and white water rafting.
Now you can’t go to Queenstown without trying the legendary burgers on offer at Fergburger! I’m almost certain every ‘what to do in Queenstown’ list will include this place. This place is world famous (in New Zealand) and if you are a burger-lover, give them a go! I have never met a person who wasn’t impressed! Try to go just before you are feeling hungry… because the line is often huge!
Now you have a few ideas of what to do in Queenstown! This place is one of the gems of the country, and while it has a pretty touristic feel, it is a town you cannot miss!