Queenstown has earned its reputation as New Zealand’s top tourist destination. All travellers should make it their mission to spend a few days exploring this South Island gem. If you’re not sure how to fill your itinerary, we’ll help you out. Here’s our three-day suggestion for getting the most out of the epic resort town you’ll be landing into.
Grab a cup of coffee, browse the nearby shops, amble through the bustling streets, and make sure to check out these incredible attractions.
Morning: The Queenstown Gardens and Lake Wakatipu
Start your day with a tranquil stroll around the Queenstown Gardens. The beautifully diverse showcase of flowers, trees, and plant life will take on a trail towards Lake Wakatipu. From there, you can marvel at a massive stretch crystal waters — and you can even settle by the lakeside for a scenic picnic.
Afternoon: Bob’s Peak and The Skyline Gondola
There are two ways to navigate through Bob’s Peak: either take the free, Tiki Trail hike or — if you’re feeling fancy — you can opt for the scenic Skyline Gondola ride. No matter which option you choose, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Activities within the Skyline Gondola route include mountain biking and the luge. Self-guided trekkers should head to the top of the summit after a good look around — not only will you catch a postcard-worthy glimpse of Queenstown, you’ll also get set to splash out on an epic end-of-day reward.
Evening: Dining under the stars
Skyline Gondola has a summit restaurant and bar that everyone can visit — it’s not exclusive to gondola riders. Buffet dinners at the Stratosfare Restaurant can be purchased on-site, at a price of NZ$67 per person. Haka performances are also held every evening, and, to finish the night in sparkling colours, you can embark on an epic Stargazing Tours afterward.
With so many natural wonders just waiting to be cherished, a day trip to Milford Sound is a definite must-do. Buses depart from Queenstown to Fiordland National Park on a regular basis, or you can opt for a scenic road trip. Here’s what you’ll get to experience upon arrival.
Morning: Cruising by the Mitre Peak
The lake running along Mitre Peak has become a popular cruising destination. You’ll spend the morning familiarising yourself with the awe-inspiring landscapes and waterfalls all around. There’s also the off-chance you’ll spot some of the active marine life the Milford Sound is famed for: including seals, penguins and dolphins! Finally, keep an eye out for the breath-taking Stirling Falls — those rippled cascades are exquisite.
Afternoon: Picnic and hike at the Milford Track
The Milford Track is one of the country’s leading hiking destinations. Fuel up with a picnic before tackling those epic trails. You’ll pass through valleys, glaciers, ancient rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Brace yourselves, now: the entire route actually takes four days to complete. An afternoon of exploring will definitely give you a taster of this wondrous reserve, but if you do want to extend your visit, there are first-come, first-served huts in the vicinity.
Evening: Return to Queenstown for a hearty meal
You’re going to be quite peckish by the time you’re back into Queenstown. Now’s your chance to sink your teeth into the area’s replenishing cheap eats. Fergburger is the most famous of the lot — it’s reasonably priced and almost a tourist site in its own right. Alternatively, visit Erik’s Fish and Chips to try the classic Kiwi food staple, or a gem like the Caribe Latin Kitchen for your Latin American food fix.
Queenstown is packed with extreme activities. Everyone’s adrenaline levels are different so, for this itinerary, we’ll give you multiple options to play with.
Morning: Bungy jump or skydive
The Kawarau Bridge is the place that jump-started New Zealand’s fascination with bungy. But if springing towards the chilly waters isn’t up to scratch, you can always up the ante with tandem skydiving. NZONE Skydive Centre has its own drop-off zone, just 20 minutes away from their check-in headquarters. You’ll then soar above 4572 metres (15,000 feet), before freefalling at a heart-stopping 200 kilometres (124 miles) per hour.
Afternoon: Jet boating or white water rafting
Shotover River is the go-to for a jet boating or white water rafting thrill. The Kawarau River also offers the latter, which is ideal for those earlybird bungy jumpers who don’t want to venture out just yet. For those unfamiliar with jet boating, it involves getting yourself onto a motorized boat and seeing the river in its best possible light — at a whirling 80 kilometres (50 miles) per hour, with a few 360-degree turns in between. White water rafting will get you floating across the dramatic cliffs and landscapes along those incredible river rapids.
Evening: Hit the town!
Celebrate your Queenstown adventure by visiting the town’s finest establishments. There’s an array of bars and restaurants that will make your final night worth it. Popular options include Winnies, 1876 Bar and Restaurant, and The World Bar and Restaurant, all of which will serve up all the right drink concoctions, and a delicious dinner to match. For a truly memorable experience, make sure to stop by the famous Minus 5 Ice Bar which — you guessed it — is made entirely out of crystal-clear ice sculptures.