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Mount Aspiring National Park | © Tomas Sobek/Flickr
Mount Aspiring National Park | © Tomas Sobek/Flickr
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7 Great Day Trips to Take from Queenstown, New Zealand

Picture of Thalita Alves
Updated: 22 March 2017
Not only is Queenstown an incredibly diverse destination, it is also the best gateway for a South Island expedition. Hiking trails, historic towns and many scenic wonders are within a few hours driving distance from this lovely New Zealand town. Choose your ideal stopover from these seven great day trips, and get set to revel in your surroundings.

Wanaka

This beautiful lakeside town is only an hour’s trip from Queenstown. The 67-kilometre (41.6-mile) drive will take you across a trove of breathtaking landscapes, from snowy mountains to crystal-clear waters. If you’re passing through during the winter months, Cardrona and Treble Cone are some of the top ski sites in the area. For those getting a glimpse of Wanaka’s beauty in the warmer months, jet-boating and paddle-boarding along the lake are always good options.

Arrowtown

The historic Arrowtown conveniently resides between Queenstown and Wanaka. In fact, a short 15-minute drive is all it takes to reach it. Along with an interesting gold mining history, Arrowtown is surrounded by trees and greenery. Visitors coming through in the early autumn months (April-May), will be able to immerse themselves in the wonderful seasonal colours as they amble along the township.

St Paul's Church, Arrowtown | © Bernard Spragg/Flickr
St Paul’s Church, Arrowtown | © Bernard Spragg/Flickr

Mt Aspiring National Park

A popular hiking and mountaineering destination that is, once again, conveniently located within close quarters to Queenstown and Wanaka. There are quite a few activities to explore at Mt Aspiring National Park, ranging from leisurely sightseeing to adrenaline-inducing adventures. Canyoning, climbing, skydiving, fishing, and trekking are some of the area’s year-round attractions.

Mount Aspiring National Park | © Tomas Sobek/Flickr
Mount Aspiring National Park | © Tomas Sobek/Flickr

The Central Otago Wineries

You’ll definitely be spoiled for choice in this 58-kilometre (36-mile) journey. As the world’s most southerly grape-growing area, Central Otago has built a strong reputation for its Pinot Noir production. The region boasts more than 80 wineries, all of which have their own unique flair and character. From Queenstown, the first vineyard you’ll pass through is Gibbston Valley. Terra Sancta, near Cromwell, and the Felton Road Winery in Bannockburn are other popular alternatives along this viticultural trail.

Felton Road Winery Tasting Room | © Jocelyn Kinghorn/Flickr
Felton Road Winery Tasting Room | © Jocelyn Kinghorn/Flickr

Alexandra

Orchards, vineyards, and a rich gold mining history. Alexandra is an underrated South Island gem that is just over an hour’s driving distance from Queenstown. Summer and autumn visitors will get to relish the locally grown apples, apricots, peaches and cherries. Winter explorers can immerse themselves in some natural ice skating at the Lower Manorburn Dam.

Old Bridge Piers in Alexandra, New Zealand | © Mattinbgn/Wikimedia Commons
Old Bridge Piers in Alexandra, New Zealand | © Mattinbgn/Wikimedia Commons

Glenorchy

The scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is always a hit with tourists. You’ll be able to enjoy some wonderful landscapes, and there are plenty of activities to try along the way. Glenorchy has made a name for itself because of its The Lord of the Rings film sites, but it is also renowned as a prime destination for kayaking, jet boating and horse trekking. The trip traverses a trove of mountainous landscapes as well as the awe-inspiring Lake Wakatipu.

Lake Wakatipu on the Way to Glenorchy | © Tony Hisgett/Flickr
Lake Wakatipu on the Way to Glenorchy | © Tony Hisgett/Flickr

The Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is considered one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. The 45-minute drive from Queenstown will amaze you with the area’s soaring mountain peaks, mossy forests and breathtaking lakeside. Hikers, take note: the full Routeburn Track is 32 kilometres long (just under 20 miles), connecting to Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park along the way. This epic alpine adventure, in its entirety, usually takes 2-3 days to complete — there are first come, first served campsites in the area for those wanting to extend their visit.

Key Summit - Routeburn Track | © Department of Conservation/Flickr
Key Summit – Routeburn Track | © Department of Conservation/Flickr