10 Unusual Things to Do in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown Ice Bar
Queenstown Ice Bar | © Ian Armstrong/Flickr
Thalita Alves

So, you know all about Queenstown’s adventure appeal. You might be well-versed about all the incredibly scenic sights embellishing this New Zealand travel hotspot. But have you tapped into the hidden gems, those unusual attractions that can easily go by unnoticed? If you haven’t, make sure to add these 10 quirky experiences to your to-do list.

Chill out at an Ice Bar

There are actually two choices here: the Minus 5° ICE BAR on Steamer Wharf, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, or the Below Zero Ice Bar on Searle Lane. Both are renowned for their ice-carved interiors, an amazing showcase of sculptures and an all-round friendly atmosphere. Even better: both venues provide its visitors with jackets and warm garments, so no one has to stress about dressing for the conditions.

Minus 5° ICE Bar, 88 Beach St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand. +64 3-442 6050

Below Zero Ice Bar, Searle Ln, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand. +64 3-409 0040

Queenstown Ice Bar

Do the Queenstown Art Trail

Take time to appreciate the lovely sculptures and galleries in town. Your art trail begins as soon as you enter Queenstown: the aptly-named ‘Welcome O Visitors From Afar’ sculpture is one of the first pieces you’ll see as you leave the airport. Aside from local galleries and creative markets, you’ll encounter local artworks around Queenstown Hill and along Lake Wakatipu’s shores.

Sculpture Outside Queenstown Airport

Take it up a notch: Do the Central Otago Arts Trail

Vineyards and wineries aside, the Central Otago region is better known for its mining history, rustic farmlands and sprawling stretches of roads. In recent years however, the Central Otago District Arts Trust has been working hard to support local creatives and foster great relationships between artists and art aficionados. The way they do it is through the Central Otago Arts Trail, which covers galleries and studios in Alexandra, Cromwell, Maniototo and Roxburgh.

Art Cut Gallery in Cromwell, Central Otago

1. Catch a flick at Dorothy Browns Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater

Dorothy Browns Cinema is a boutique theatre in Arrowtown. Queenstown film buffs will know the venue for hosting regular events organised by the community-driven Queenstown Film Society. Along with screening lesser-known gems and arthouse films, the cinema also plays recent blockbuster releases. The venue is named after local icon Dorothy Brown, a photographer who lived with a Chinese gold miner and is believed to have owned an opium den.

Go fly fishing on the Arrow river

The Arrow River is a small tributary of the Kawarau River, the latter of which flows into the Clutha near Lake Wanaka. It is located in a gorge that holds small Brown and Rainbow trout in its reaches, making it a good place for novices to practice their fly fishing skills. If you’re looking for something closer to town, try the guided fishing tour that departs from Queenstown’s Beach Street jetty.

Arrow River

Follow the Invincible Gold Mine trail

Originally built by miners in the 1880s, the Invincible Gold Mine Track is nowadays a great location to get some easy, scenic hiking done. It’s part of the Otago Goldfields Park, which is a 30-minute drive from Glenorchy. A three-hour return journey on a hilly track rewards its visitors with an incredible panorama of Mt Earnslaw and the Rees Valley. History buffs will also relish the revolving cast-iron bowls that were once used to collect the gold from the ground and are still visible from the track to this day.

Mount Earnslaw

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