Culture Trip’s Seasonal Guide to Queenstown

View over the city and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the Skyline Gondola, Bob's Peak
View over the city and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the Skyline Gondola, Bob's Peak | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Benjamin Kempton
Travel Writer22 February 2021

Strap yourselves in for a trip to the “adventure capital of the world”, a party destination with tonnes of heart-racing outdoor experiences – from mountain biking to bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge. That’s not to say it’s all high-octane in Queenstown though. Whatever your preference, Autumn is the ideal time to visit, with long sunny days and lovely warm temperatures.

New Zealand’s South Island certainly isn’t short of spectacular locations, but Queenstown, surrounded by the Southern Alps and on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, has a wealth of attractions as well as its beautiful scenery. Be sure to check out the often-overlooked markets, restaurants and gardens of the town, and whatever you do, make sure you grab a Fergburger while you’re there – just prepare for the queue.

If you want to save your precious bucks to spend at the countless number of bars in Queenstown, there are loads of money-saving hostels to choose from. Or if you’d rather splash the cash on something nicer, and possibly a bit less smelly, there are plenty of hotels and apartments to plump for as well. We’ve hand-selected some of our favourites below, along with the must-visit attractions in Queenstown this Autumn.

Bungee Jump

Bungee jumping from the Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge | © Robin Weaver / Alamy Stock Photo

You can’t come to the birthplace of the bungee jump without actually trying it, or at least seeing it in action. Kawarau Bridge is where it all started. The 43m fall can either be done alone or as a tandem. Dive headfirst or maybe even backwards, feel yourself touch the water, then spring back up. You’ll be reassured to hear in over a million jumps, there hasn’t been a single death. And if the stats still aren’t enough to convince you, the trek through the forest to get to the bridge and watching people jump off it is still a great day out. There’s also the Nevis Bungy in Queenstown, New Zealand’s highest jump at 134m.

Adventure Queenstown Hostel and Chalet

Budget Hotel, Hostel
Map View
Adventure Queenstown Hostel
Courtesy of Adventure Queenstown Hostel / Expedia
Carry on the adventure with a stay at this hostel and chalet in central Queenstown. You’re likely to meet many other travellers who have had the same idea of bungee jumping to compare notes with. It’s only around 50NZD a night, so you can save money to book more thrilling experiences. Plus, it’s a great spot to sit on the balcony with a drink in the Autumnal sun and watch the world on Camp Street go by.

Bob’s Peak and the Skyline Gondola

Skyline Gondola to the Bobs Peak | © Christian Mueringer / Alamy Stock Photo

For anyone that loves a panoramic view, the Skyline Gondola is an absolute must. For anyone scared of heights, what are you doing in Queenstown? The unfathomably steep cable car takes you 450m above Lake Wakatipu up to Bob’s Peak, where you can look out towards Coronet Peak, the Remarkables mountain range and over the whole of Queenstown. Enjoy the views with a swig of something refreshing from the bar at the top. Then how do you get back down, you ask? Zoom down on the luge. Or you could take the gondola back, but that wouldn’t be keeping in the spirit of this adventurous New Zealand town.

Cranbury Court Apartments Queenstown

Apartment
4.3/5 (275 Reviews)
Cranbury Court Apartments Queenstown
Courtesy of Cranbury Court Apartments Queenstown / Expedia
Near the bottom of the gondola are the Cranbury Court Apartments. The benefit of staying in one of these self-catered apartments is that you get a whole place to yourself, ideal for setting up a base and exploring all Queenstown and the surrounding area has to offer. Take the family, go on a romantic escape or just have the place to yourself. The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, all with stunning mountain views out the windows.
More info

Visit Arrowtown

Historic miners’ cottages on the Avenue of Trees, Arrowtown | © Ian G Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

Although slightly out of Queenstown, it’s around a 15-minute drive, it’s well worth the journey. Step back in time and stroll through the working settlement town. Think wild-west style timber-framed buildings and Victorian lamp posts in the street. Then look around and be dazzled by the breathtaking alpine forests that overlook the town. Browse through the gift shops or try your hand on the golf course. There are some incredible hikes nearby, as well as cycling routes. Bike hire is available from the town.

Arrowtown Lodge

Lodge, Cottages
4.8/5 (84 Reviews)
Arrowtown Lodge
Courtesy of Arrowtown Lodge / Expedia
Keeping with the charming bygone Arrowtown theme and right in the centre of the town, this boutique timber cottage will round up your visit perfectly. Take in the fresh Autumnal weather from the tranquil gardens and enjoy uninterrupted views towards Sawpit Gully and Macetown. Wake up every morning to a home-cooked breakfast and make the most of the complimentary bikes with a cycle through Arrowtown and the surrounding natural beauty.
More info

Mountain Biking

Mountain bikers crossing suspension bridge on Arrow River Bridges Ride | © David Wall / Alamy Stock Photo

Missing the ski season? Fear not. Bomb down a mountain cycling at the Queenstown Bike Park instead – New Zealand’s first Gondola assisted bike park. Take the Skyline Gondola up to Bob’s Peak and there are over 30 different trails to choose from, totalling over 30km of 450m descent. Hang on though, there are loads of bumps, jumps and hairpin turns along the way. For a more scenic, yet still challenging, cycle, head up to Rude Rock and Skipper Canyon for a scenic ride across jagged peaks. There’s the Moke Lake Circuit for a more relaxing mountain biking experience.

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Hotel
4.8/5 (346 Reviews)
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel / Expedia
Treat yourself to a luxurious stay near the centre of town and close to all the action. The Skyline Gondola, which you’ll need to take to get to the Bike Park, is only a five-minute walk from the hotel. You’ll relish coming back to the architecturally sleek hotel after an exhausting day of cycling. You can even see the track that you cycled down from certain rooms.
More info

The Queenstown Gardens

Bridge in Queenstown gardens | © Alan Smithers / Alamy Stock Photo

Not everything has to go at million-miles-an-hour speeds in Queenstown. Make the most of the Autumn weather and take a relaxing stroll through the botanical gardens in the town. The pristine park looks like something from a painting, with its exotic trees, colourful flowers and romantic bridge over the pond. The entire trail is around an hour and a half and takes you along Lake Wakatipu as well. There’s an 18 basket disc golf course in the gardens to keep you entertained, or we’d recommend taking-out a coffee from the town and bringing it on your lap around the Queenstown Gardens.

Queenstown Country Lodge

Hotel
4.9/5 (14 Reviews)
Queenstown Country Lodge
Courtesy of Queenstown Country Lodge / Expedia
Sink into the hot tub under the stars or cosy up by the fire at the boutique Country Lodge B&B. There are six spacious rooms, all with fantastic views either towards the Remarkables mountain range or across the landscaped gardens at the lodge. You’ll receive a warm welcome from the hosts Jennifer and Mark, who can guide you on all the best things to do in the area and make sure you are fully looked after during your stay.
More info

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