As Simon Van Booy once said: “For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home”. I have traveled to different places around the world, but no other place has made me feel the way Queenstown did. There are many words I could use to describe this town, such as thrilling, breathtaking, inspiring, spectacular, electrifying…but it’s so much more that I could never put it into words. Check these Queenstown holiday ideas to make your trip to New Zealand truly epic.
There’s no shortage of things to do in the area surrounding Queenstown, whether you’re a fan of extreme sports or you just want to enjoy beautiful nature. Although you might have heard that Queenstown is the adrenaline-pumping capital of New Zealand (if not of the whole world). So there is no Queenstown holiday without pushing yourself to the limit and trying something new. Are you ready for the challenge?
1.Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jumping
Kawarau Bridge is the birthplace of the commercial bungee jumping that operates since 1988 and has 100% safety record (which is pretty important).
It was my first bungee jump, so I couldn’t compare it to any other place. However, I was impressed with AJ Hackett’s quality of service. They really did everything to prepare me for that jump and make me feel safe (as much as I possibly could in such a situation).
AJ Hackett has various options (skywalks, bridge climbs, zip rides, catapults, and bungee jumps) and locations (Kawarau Bridge, Ledge, Nevis, and Auckland Bridge).
I chose Kawarau Bridge location because of its origin, view, and height – 43m (141ft) seemed more realistic for the first-timer. However, if it’s not high enough for you, then you can try Nevis Bungy. It is at 134m (439ft) high and you experience free fall for 8.5 seconds at 120km (75miles) per hour (I get goosebumps just from thinking about it).
All I can say is if you ever consider doing bungee jumping, then your Queenstown holiday is the perfect moment to do it. High-quality service plus astonishing views are the recipes for the unforgettable bungee experience.
Good tip: avoid weekends and try to get there as early as possible to avoid waiting time
2. Milford Sound
Rudyard Kipling once called Milford Sound the eighth Wonder of the World, and I can’t argue with that. It’s truly a majestic fjord that makes you realize how powerful and inspiring our nature is. A day trip to Milford Sound should be a part of every Queenstown holiday.
There are two ways to get to Milford Sound from Queenstown: 4hr scenic road trip or a 40mins scenic flight.
I chose the flight option in order to save time (even though it’s more expensive) and to see the fjord from the sky. The trip lived up and even exceeded my expectations. I was mesmerized by the views for the whole duration of the flight. The pilot was also amazing, providing highlights on the places we encountered. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I knew that it would have been impossible to capture that beauty.
I also pre-booked cruise in Milford Sound, but unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good, so the cruise was canceled. However, I still managed to see the fjord from the ground and it was equally as awe-inspiring as from the sky.
Good tip: A day trip to Milford Sound is one of the most epic New Zealand´s must-dos. Keep in mind, it’s better to have two days saved for Milford Sound, in case one day the weather is bad, you can go there on another day. If you choose to go by car, then at least two days are also needed for a comfortable experience.
3. Shotover Jet
This is a fun activity for everyone. You ride on a jet boat over a river canyon at 85km (52 miles) per hour and experience 360-degree spins from time to time. Sounds exciting, right?
There are different companies that offer this activity. I chose Shotover Jet because it’s the original one and it’s the only company that offers rides in the absolutely stunning Shotover River Canyons.
I took the ride with my family, and we all had so much fun and we laughed so hard (even though my mom is usually not a fan of such things). It’s not scary and you have time to enjoy the epic landscapes.
Good tip: if it’s cold outside, better take a raincoat or a change of clothes, cause depending on where you sit (especially first row), you might get wet. The safest seats (in terms of water getting to you) are the middle ones.
Fergburger is one of the most famous foods to try on every Queenstown holiday. I’m a foodie, as most of us are nowadays, duh. I must admit that it’s difficult to surprise me when it comes to burgers. However, Fergburger is THE BURGER. I’m really sensitive to the quality of the products, and the first thing I realized about Fergburger was its high-quality ingredients.
Oh, that New Zealand beef…(and I don’t usually eat or like meet at all), but this was that one exception. If you want to experience Queenstown to the fullest, then Fergburger is a must.
Good tip: it’s open 21hrs (awesome, right?). During the day the line is too big, and unless you like waiting for 30mins, I would strongly recommend going there early in the morning or late in the evening.
Glenorchy is just 45mins from Queenstown and it’s your gateway to multiple hiking trails as well as the Middle-earth (LOTR fans know the deal).
Whether it’s a 30mins stroll or 8hrs hike, you won’t have any problem finding your perfect trail and following it to discover the reasons why everyone is so in love with this region. Glenorchy is every nature lover must-stop during Queenstown holiday.
Good tip: since there are so many options for hiking in the area, it would be helpful to prepare for the trip in advance and choose the track you like.
Yep, Paradise comes to life in New Zealand. This day trip from Queenstown is a must for the fans of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Wolverine (Hollywood sure does love this location).
The jaw-dropping scenery will make you wanna stop every other minute, and that’s exactly what you should do. Take your time enjoying nature and discovering locations from your favorite movies.
Good tip: half of the road from Glenorchy to Paradise is unsealed. If it’s raining, then maybe the best decision would be to only drive until the point where the road is still sealed.
Arrowtown is an absolutely charming village 15 mins from Queenstown. It is a former gold–mining settlement and with its perfectly restored cottages, it makes you feel as you’re back in time. Arrowtown is considered to be one of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand. Wander around the historical buildings and explore the gold rush as if it’s the 1860s all over again.
Good tip: Arrowtown is especially captivating during fall foliage (April) when you can experience all the colors of the season.
8. Queenstown Gardens
For a quiet morning/evening head to The Queenstown Gardens, the botanical garden full of exotic and native trees.
It offers tranquility and peace even though it’s only a few minutes away from the city center. You can take a picnic and enjoy your time with your family and/or friends while enjoying the views of Lake Wakatipu.
Good tip: It’s one of my favorite locations in town for a quiet sunset, it’s perfect for relaxation and meditation.
9. Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand with a length of 80km (50miles). While in Queenstown, go to Fernhill to enjoy the lake in its full glory. There is a Maori legend about a huge monster named Matau who sleeps at the bottom of the lake. His heartbeat is the reason why water rises and falls every 25 minutes. I must say that it does look like the lake lives a life of its own.
Good tip: Take the cruise across Lake Wakatipu to understand how splendid this region is and how tiny and lovely Queenstown looks from the lake.
10. Rent an apartment with the view over Lake Wakatipu
One of the reasons I fell in love with Queenstown was because I got to wake up every morning to this view:..
Apartments are quite expensive, but if you have a chance, then it’s absolutely worth spending a little bit extra for the view. You get the unlimited access to the most stunning sunrises and it completes the whole magical experience of Queenstown.