Queenstown is always a hit with travellers. People cherish this small-but-mighty New Zealand resort town because of its diverse experiences, scenic wonders and incredible vibes. If you need convincing, here are nine reasons everyone should make this cool Kiwi destination one of their top places to visit.
AJ Hackett was definitely onto something when he established New Zealand’s first commercial bungee operation in 1988. The country’s (and the world’s) love affair with the extreme sport blossomed from there, and the original Kawarau Bridge bungee is still going strong today. Along with being one of the most famous adrenaline-inducing places in the world, Kawarau Bridge is the only place in Queenstown to offer tandem jumping experiences.
Queenstown is surrounded by ski resorts – in fact, the town is the gateway to some of the very best in New Zealand. The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone are all a short drive from the town centre, and many ski passes will give you access to multiple fields at once. Transport from town is usually included in those packages, and you can purchase them online or upon arrival.
One of the best things about Queenstown is that seasonal changes are never an issue. There’s so much to check out during the year, from the annual Winter Festival to cool summer concerts and a dynamic live-music scene. Also, unlike certain places in the Central Otago region, Queenstown’s weekend markets are not restricted to the summer months. Other popular year-round attractions include jet boating, hiking, canyon swinging and scenic cruises.
Queenstown is regularly rated as one of the friendliest cities in the world. Kiwis are friendly by nature, and will be more than happy to help anyone who is lost or needs pointers. Hospitality is something they take a lot of pride in, so expect people working in restaurants, bars, hotels and retail outlets to be helpful and friendly too.
Arrowtown, a mere 15-minute drive from Queenstown, is one of the South Island’s best-known historic settlements. It is a former gold-mining hub which has worked hard to preserve its heritage and history. Many of the buildings along the main street were built in the gold-mining days, and are now home to many everyday venues such as cafes, shops and offices. The Millennium Walk and Macetown biking trail are some of the most popular options for those exploring Arrowtown’s surroundings.
Jet boating, bungee jumping, canyoning, white-water rafting, the luge… you’d be hard-pressed to find an adventure activity that doesn’t make the list of Queenstown must-dos. At the same time, there are also plenty of serene places to unwind, from parks and gardens to scenic getaways and the region’s viticultural treasures.
Travelling with kids? No worries – Queenstown can keep all your family members entertained. From video game arcades to go-karting and ice skating, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to family-friendly expeditions. Snow lovers should definitely keep an eye out for family passes for the area’s ski resorts, and chilled-out families will love the TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak Farm.
Whether you’re looking to splurge on a boutique hotel or you need to stick to a budget, you won’t be short of accommodation options in Queenstown. The only thing to keep in mind is that the most coveted venues, from Airbnbs to backpackers, fill up pretty fast. For peace of mind it’s best to book your accommodation as early as possible.
Lake Wakatipu is a treasure trove of alpine ranges, postcard-worthy vistas and all-round unspoiled scenery. If you want to get the most out of the South Island’s sublime backdrop, Queenstown is one of the best places to do it. Climb up Bob’s Peak to get a full panorama of the town, or soak up the stunning lakeside views by going on a picnic.