From Te Anau our next stop was Queenstown, New Zealand.
A common theme you will see on our New Zealand posts is that half the enjoyment is the drive from town to town is straight eye porn. This is truly one of the prettiest countries we have visited.
Why Travel to Queenstown, New Zealand
Adventure! Sky diving, white water-rafting, zip-lines, mountain biking, hiking, jet-boating, bungee jumping; you name it, Queenstown has got it.
The list continues, great nightlife, foods, friendly locals, and it can all be done on a budget…or not (budget and high-end options available).
Plus, it’s just darn right beautiful.
How Long to Stay in Queenstown, New Zealand?
You can pack your days as tight as possible or enjoy it at a more leisurely pace. There are too many things to do here to answer a perfect amount to stay. We would love to live in New Zealand. So hope that answers that.
Top Things To Do in Queenstown, New Zealand
1) Hike Ben Lomond
You have two options here.
- Hike to Ben Lomond Saddle (three to four-hours return)
- Hike to Ben Lomond summit (five to six-hours return)
The Ben Lomond summit is 1,748 meters (5,734 feet) high and the saddle is 1,326m high and the This hike is breathtaking and well worth the effort. You can start at the Tiki Trail (where you climb to Bob’s Peak) or take the skyline lift ($) and begin your hike of Ben Lomond. The track begins at the Douglas fir stands via the Skyline Gondola. We started at the Tiki Trail and while there are a couple nice views, it’s much better to begin your hike from at Bob’s peak (see below). Unless a steep climb through a zig-zag forest sounds like your ideal way to start an eight hour hike. Then by all means, enjoy the challenge. Not to mention getting lost in the forest after dark, after an eight hour hike and many unidentified noises…
Ben Lomond Tip 101: We would recommend skipping the Tiki Trail if you are pressed for time or want to conserve energy.
Then the views the rest of the way are more than epic.
We made a stop at Ben Lomond Saddle and truly enjoyed the scenery before the final hike to the summit…
From the Saddle, it takes almost an hour to reach summit (one way).
Ben Lomond Hiking Tips:
- Bring layers – As during most hikes, you get hot, you get cold
- Bring snacks – You will get hungry as this can be an all-day hike
- Make sure you have enough daylight for the hike
- We recommend only those with alpine experience hike in the winter months
- There is a mountain bike trail and terrain Park
2) Luge at Bob’s Peak
There is something satisfying about riding a gravity powered luge while at Bob’s Peak. You can buy packages to take the skyline lift and have multiple rides on the luge. We’d definitely recommend luging, as this as a fun and out of the ordinary thing to do. Again, the views during the entire luge ride are out of this world.
Queenstown Tip 101 : We saved quite a bit using Groupon on activities throughout Queenstown. It is worth a look.
3) Shotover Jet
For the thrill seekers, check out “The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride”. Jet-boating in New Zealand is the not-so-subtle art of “Tokyo Drifting” through canyons at insane speeds of 85km/hour (about 53 miles/hour). Ok, jet-boating is technically a boat that is propelled by a jet of water from the back of the boat. But in New Zealand, it means high-octane fun. We loved our experience on Shotover Jet as our jet boat went through Skippers Canyon – a gorgeous gorge near Queenstown. Power and beauty!
4) Walk Around Town/Bar Hop/Restaurant Hop
Queenstown is a party town with something for everybody including loads of bars and restaurants. Simply walking around town will afford you some nice views. Literally everywhere you go, everywhere you eat, where you sleep, there are endless gorgeous views. Be sure to stop at Lake Wakatipu, one of New Zealand’s largest lakes and also it’s longest.
Queenstown Tip 101: The best place to view Lake Wakatipu from atop is Bob's Cove
5) Disc Golf
Have you heard of Disc Golfing? Well you should try it at Queenstown Garden Course, the first permanently marked course in New Zealand. This is the most beautiful disc golf course we have ever played in. The course is situated with a view of Lake Wakatipu and botanical gardens. If you have your own discs, you can play for free. We were able to get free discs through Peter Pans travel agency as we had used them to book a tour in Australia later in our trip.
We dare you to find a better Disc Golf course. Check out these views of Lake Wakatipu.
6) The Remarkables
You can take a stunning drive through the Remarkables mountain range.
This is short drive (less than an hour) up that’s worth the effort for some nice views. During the winter season, you can ski the mountain.
7) Take a Gondola Ride
Take a 450-meter ride up on the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere – Skyline Queenstown. The gondola ride is a must-do for a quite a few reasons.
✔️ The view on the way up through the Ben Lomond Forest is spectacular.
✔️ At the top there is a panoramic restaurant where you can have a special dining experience (Although we didn’t dine there are some top notch views from outside it).
✔️ If you are interested in hiking Ben Lomond, you can save over an hour of hiking uphill by taking a 45-minute gondola ride.
Queenstown Tip 101 : If you do the Luge, the Gondola ride is included within the price. Do both activities in one day.
8) Visit a Winery
After all that hiking and walking, indulge in the country’s finest wines. Enjoy a wine tasting at the world’s largest tasting of New Zealand wine – The Winery. It’s a pretty neat concept, load money on a pre-paid card, insert the card into the dispenser, and press the button for wine. Basic yet so fun. With over 80 different wines…come with money and a thirst.
9) Kawarau River
It is only a 10 minute drive from Queenstown and we recommend a quick stop to at least check out the gorge and beautiful flowing river. For more than a stop…the Kawarau Bridge is home to the first commercial bungee (shame we didn’t get to try it).
Where to Eat in Queenstown, New Zealand
The World Bar
THE BEST VEGAN BURGER I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. In the forefront is my amazingly delicious Vegan Pulled Jackfruit and in the background Kurt’s Pulled Pork…guess whose dish we both agreed was better? Vegan for the win. You NEED this burger in your life.
Fergburger is an iconic burger joint in Queenstown. Not only is it very popular among locals but tourists alike (as you can see in the picture). With much anticipation to hold us over, we waited a good while in line.
Vegetarians in Queenstown 101: I recently discovered they are now carrying vegetarian options. I very much look forward to coming back to Ferburger now.
Other Recommendations of Things to Do
These are all adventures that we unfortunately didn’t have time to do on our own but would have considered if we had more time:
- Ski/snowboard – Three ski resorts are all within an hours drive. Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and the Remarkables.
- Bungee Jump or rope swing – Home of the bungee. Nevis Valley has the world’s biggest rope swing and it’s Bungee platform is also 3rd highest in the world.
- Glenorchy and Paradise – After leaving Queenstown we read about a nice day trip to Glenorchy and a town called Paradise. Looking at pictures makes us want to visit next time we are in Queenstown. Like many areas in New Zealand it made appearances in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Mountain bike – There are plenty of mountains and trails to choose from. Next time we’ll give it a go. Check out this post for several ideas: https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/stories/post/five-of-queenstowns-top-mountain-biking-spots/.
- Hike Bob’s Cove Track – A lakeside walking trail that provides some fo the best views of Lake Wakatipu.
Questions For You
- Would you dare bungee jump in Queenstown?
- Would you hop in a jet boat which travels at speeds over 50 miles/hour?