Central Otago New Zealand Oceania Queenstown Travel

Top 10 Things to Do in Queenstown, New Zealand

The first thing you notice on arrival in Queenstown, are the snow-capped mountains suddenly peering through the clouds from the airplane window. The second is the friendliest greeting you get from the customs and immigration officers at the airport – unlike any ever encountered around the globe.

Queenstown, New Zealand
View of Queenstown from Skyline Gondola

Queenstown is located on New Zealand’s South Island, a sports and outdoor playground surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range with activities such as skiing, white water rafting hiking and bungee jumping. It is also the location for many scenes in the “Lord of the Rings” movies. But what if you’re not the adventurous type?

Here are top 10 things to do in Queenstown:

1. Walk around Town

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is easily accessible by foot. The main centre is situated near Lake Wakatipu and you can explore many shops, restaurants, bars and pubs in Queenstown Mall very easily. On Saturdays, you can browse the markets with anything from souvenirs to bric-a-bracs located on the shores of the lake.

2. Cruise Lake Wakatipu

Queenstown, New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu

What better way to enjoy the alpine scenery than to take a leisurely cruise on the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu. Cruises depart regularly during the day and go for 90 minutes. You can combine the cruise with a visit to Walter Peak High Country Station for a guided farm visit, horse trek, barbecue lunch or evening buffet dining.

3. Skyline Gondola and Luge

Queenstown, New Zealand
Skyline Gondola and Luge

Take the cable car up the mountain for a panoramic view of Queenstown and the Remarkables. Queues can be lengthy on sunny days so allow ample time to get there. The views are spectacular and if you decide you need a little adventure, you can buy combined tickets for luge and bungee jumping.

4. Go on a Winery Tour of Central Otago

Central Otago Wineries
Central Otago

Central Otago is renowned for its Pinot Noir and the wineries are easily accessible by car from Queenstown, the closest being 15 minutes away. Check our comprehensive guide to Central Otago Wine Tour for more information on which wineries to visit, where to lunch and dine as well as a map of the winery tour.

5. Stay at Eichardt’s Private Hotel

Eichardt's Private Hotel
Eichardt’s Private Hotel

Eichardt’s is a luxury small hotel located mere steps away from Lake Wakatipu and the town’s  centre and entertainment hub and is situated 8 km from Queenstown Airport. Choose from luxury accommodation in five suites or four lakefront apartments. accommodation or apartments. If staying at Eichardt’s Private Hotel is not within your budget, go to Eichardt’s Bar for a pre-dinner drinks and tapas.

6. Dine at Rata

Rata, Queenstown, New Zealand
Rata, Queenstown

Michelin-star chef Josh Emmett’s restaurant is renowned for serving quality local produce in relaxed and welcoming surrounds. The menu celebrates the produce of Central Otago and features dishes from bites, to share plates and mains. For more information, read our review of Rata.

7. Cocktails at The Naughty Penguin

The Naughty Penguin, Queenstown, New Zealand
The Naughty Penguin

Queenstown likes to party with some venues staying open until 4 am. Meander down what seems like a dingy alley and you’ll find The Naughty Penguin, a small bar serving up top notch cocktails, Moa beer on tap and warm welcomes. It’s easy to lose yourself there until the early hours.

8. Eat a Fergburger

Fergberger, Queenstown, New Zealand

Join the late night/early morning queue at Fergberger, a Queenstown institution and treat yourself to one of the tastiest burgers around. They’re big, they’re filling, and no one will judge you if you order a Chief Wiggum burger with slow-roasted pork belly at 4am. Hangover food, anyone?

9. Ride the Shark

Queenstown, New Zealand
Hydro Attack / Shark

There’s a shark lurking in the calm waters of Lake Wakatipu. Hydro Attack blurs the lines between shark and machine. It travels to speeds up to 80kph, launching up out the water and submerging below the waves. It’s a ride you won’t forget.

10. Savour the Moment

Queenstown, New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu Panorama

While you could take day trips out of Queenstown to the Milford Sound or visit locations of the Lord of the Rings, travel is often enriched by savouring the moment. Whether it’s a romantic stroll around the lake, a drink at that Irish pub you’ve passed in your walks, or simply admiring that view at sunset one more time, ever-lasting memories are to be made.

Gourmantic travelled to Queenstown, New Zealand as guests of Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand flies daily non-stop between Sydney and Queenstown in a little under three hours.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.