In an outdoor-lover’s haven like Queenstown, there’s no excuse not to make the most of nature’s accessible assets. There’s so much more on offer, too – here are 11 must-dos that prove it.
Queenstown’s mountainous landscapes offer some of the finest panoramas you will ever see. The best way to get a piece of this picturesque beauty is to hike up the various summits within reach of the city. Bob’s Peak is where you’ll get the best views of town. While many opt to ascend it via the Skyline Gondola, a walk up the Tiki Trail is all it takes to view it for free. Queenstown Hill is another hiking favourite that offers optimal vantage points of Queenstown.
Besides being a haven for all kinds of water sports, Queenstown’s picturesque lakes are ideal for a low-cost outing. Within a 15-minute drive from downtown you’ve got the stunning Lake Hayes, which is a popular spot for walking, cycling and picnicking. For an alternative closer to town, there’s always Lake Wakatipu. New Zealand’s longest lake can be accessed in various places and is the perfect location for a scenic end-of-day stroll.
Queenstown is the gateway for some of the South Island’s most scenic drives. If you’re travelling around autumn, you’ll want to stopover in Arrowtown, a former mining settlement which is as loved for its seasonal hues as it is for its interesting historical relics. Glenorchy is as much of a treat for hikers and nature lovers as it is for Lord of the Rings fans – the Isengard Lookout being one of the key points of interest en route. Other popular road trip locations to consider include Gibbston Valley (where many of the region’s best vineyards are located) and Queenstown’s other adventurous sibling, Wanaka.
Some of the Otago region’s most extraordinary heritage landmarks can be found in and around Queenstown. You’ve got Queenstown’s iconic TSS Earnslaw ship, which was built in 1912 and is currently the only operating vessel of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere; the Kawarau Bridge, which played an important role in the Central Otago’s gold rush operations before becoming the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping; and Arrowtown with the remnants of its Chinese gold mining days.
Adventure experiences don’t come cheap, but at the same time, you don’t have to be part of the adrenaline rush in order to enjoy them. Whether you’re on the fence about Queenstown’s famous thrills or you’ve already given them a go, seeing the action as an outsider is sure to be an insightful feat. Head over to the Kawarau River and Bridge to watch the various bungee and rafting operations, or venture to Shotover River to sight some of its iconic jet boats.
This one’s only free if you’re able to resist temptation. But if you’ve got time to kill, some window-shopping around Queenstown Mall won’t go amiss – it might even help you get ideas for souvenirs to take home. Depending on when you’re visiting, there’s going to be a selection of craft and farmers’ markets to look through – these are mostly seasonal, but come with various visual treats like busking performances, as well as its locally produced foodstuffs and artisan goodies.