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Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, so be ready to push those limits! This town is always buzzing and there really are so many amazing things to do in Queenstown. Located in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is famous for adventurous activities and ski tourism. It’d be quite possible to enjoy a full week’s holiday (if not longer!) in this small town, due to its abundance of epic trips – so allow plenty of time as part of your New Zealand exploration!
What are the best things to do in Queenstown?
Milford Sound – the best of all the things to do in Queenstown!
Queenstown is the main gateway town for day trips out to Milford Sound. Often voted the most beautiful place in the world, Milford is guaranteed to take your breath away. Whatever the weather (and do remember that this is one of the wettest places on the planet), a day trip here is an absolute must do when visiting South Island.
We did a one day Coach and Cruise Nature Tour with Southern Discoveries, which was the perfect way to explore the area. Expect to leave Queenstown early, and enjoy the scenic drive to the Fiordland. You’ll stop off at a few gorgeous sights along the way, before boarding your cruise through Milford Sound. It really is the most beautiful place I have ever visited.
Note: If you’ve got all the time in the world, it’s possible to self-drive to Te Anau, a small town at the edge of the Fiordland, then jump on a boat from there to cruise the epic Milford Sound. This allows you the freedom to stop whenever you want, but should only be undertaken by very experienced drivers – particularly if visiting in winter.
Queenstown is famous for its skiing, in the two main areas of the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Every day you’ll see smiling skiers returning to town after a day on the slopes. Skiing isn’t exactly my thing, but if it was, I’d be straight up Coronet Peak for their weekend night skiing opportunities.
There feels to be no limit of adrenaline activities on the list of the best things to do in Queenstown. From the world’s original bungee jump at the AJ Hackett bungee, to the epic canyon swing, there’s something for everyone – and there are so many agents in town ready to organise it for you. If you’re looking for the ultimate thrill, head up in a plane to up to 15 000 ft and jump out on a skydive.
My boyfriend organised a 12 000 ft skydive in Queenstown with NZone. This was a fair bit cheaper, and only cuts your free falling time by about 15 seconds. The excellent thing about the sky diving companies in Queenstown is that they’re super accommodating to your travel plans if poor weather stops you from being able to jump on the day you’d booked. He’d booked to jump above Queenstown, but after cloud called it off and we had to move on to our next destination, NZone organised for him to jump with Skydive Wanaka instead for no extra cost. He absolutely loved it!
Wine Tour in the Gibbston Valley
Did you know the Gibbston Valley, just thirty minutes from Queenstown, is the home of the world’s best pinot noir? At the same latitude (but in the opposite direction!) to the South of France, you get some seriously good wines grown around here. So head out on a wine tour! We went on a Twilight Wine and Craft Beer Tour with Altitude, and had such a wonderful time exploring 3 different cellar doors tasting the best wines the region had to offer. Plus, they take you to the cutest little spots!
With this many things to do in Queenstown, can you really expect all these backpackers to bed down for an early night? Particularly after they’ve just come back from a wine tour?! No matter what day of the week, there’s always a party in town. Nomads Hostel organises bar crawls, so either join this or make your own! It’s a small enough town that it’s pretty easy to find a lively scene.
Just outside of Queenstown..
If you’ve exhausted all the amazing things to do in Queenstown, head out to the surrounding towns for something a little different. Just 15 minutes drive away and you’ll find the gorgeously quaint Arrowtown. Walk down the high street as you feel like you’re stepping back in time, or hire a pan to head down to the creek and look for gold!
Alternatively, head over the Mt Aspiring National Park to the town of Wanaka for the incredibly rewarding hike up Roys Peak. Read full details of this hike here.