Queenstown travel guide

Queenstown Tourism | Queenstown Guide

You're Going to Love Queenstown

One of the most beautiful cities on New Zealand's South Island, Queenstown offers year-round adventure to both budget-conscious and luxury travelers. A town built on activity, the city offers numerous opportunities for outdoor sports including biking, hiking, golfing, and horseback riding, as well as bungee jumping and whitewater rafting, to really get the adrenaline pumping.

At the end of the day, you'll return home and drink in the stunning scenery of Lake Wakatipu, which hosts reflections of the mountains and stars throughout the day and night. You also may choose to drink in local brews at one of the city's 50+ bars, as Queenstown is renowned for its nightlife. Don't worry, though: if you're looking for peace and quiet, there are plenty of laid-back neighborhoods to explore as well.

Whether you're interested in the history and culture of the Arrowtown district, or the backpacker scene at the brew-pubs, there's plenty to explore in Queenstown. Come down and enjoy a gem set in the South Island's Southern Alps.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Queenstown

1. World-Class Skiing

Queenstown is perhaps best known for its skiing. The city hosted the country's first commercial ski resort in 1947, and today there are four different ski slopes accessible by car. It's the perfect way to drink in the mountain scenery.

2. Lake Cruises

Lake Wakatipu is divine, and there are several cruise lines in town to help you make the most of it. Lake cruises are a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the scenery at the same time.

3. Great Local Wine

Many people don't know that Queenstown is actually home to a number of local vineyards. There's nothing quite like wine tasting in the middle of a hiking trip.

4. Extreme Sports

If you've got a taste for adrenaline, Queenstown will leave you breathless by the end of your stay. Parasailing, parapenting, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving, and ziplining are just some of the activities available to guests in Queenstown.

5. Vibrant Nightlife

Queenstown is known as a party town, with over 50 bars and numerous other establishments playing host to a wide variety of guests. Whether you're looking for a rooftop barbecue party or a sophisticated establishment serving local wines, Queenstown will satisfy.

What to do in Queenstown

1. Skyline Gondola: Panoramic Views

Queensland's landscape is stunning from every perspective, but the most mind-blowing point of view is offered on a magical ride on the Skyline Gondola. Float over the steep hill that towers majestically over the city - as the houses get smaller, the region expands before your very eyes. Behold Lake Wakatipu snaking through the valley, and let yourself be stunned by the snow-capped peaks in the distance. There is a restaurant at the top, alongside outdoor entertainment like the popular luge.

2. The Remarkables Ski Area: Living up to the Name

This pristine corner of New Zealand is best known for its ski resorts, and every winter the mountainside comes alive with elated vacationers shooting down the slopes. Lake Wakatipu stands stoically below as snow trails lead past smaller alpine waters with surprising scenery around every corner. The purity of the landscape here is hard to believe, and it never gets old as you get your thrills on the way down.

3. Coronet Peak Ski Area: Let it Snow

For alpine enthusiasts, the winter months bring a perfectly groomed paradise, as the slopes of Coronet Peak become one of the area's best resorts. Often considered the pioneering resort of the region, this ski area boasts some of the most extensive facilities too, offering night skiing and state-of-the-art lifts that get you back to the top in no time at all. World-class athletes train here each winter as well, but whether you are a beginner or an expert, you're sure to find a route suited to your level.

4. Skippers Canyon: Don't Look Down

With stunning peaks in every direction, the Queensland region is just begging to be explored. One of the greatest stops further afield, Skipper's Canyon, is nestled in the folds of the mountain range. Here, the Shotover River flows through a scenic gorge for over 10 miles, with cliffs dropping off dramatically into gushing waters below. A narrow suspension bridge traverses the canyon over a drop down below that you won't soon forget, and the wilderness on either side is well worth exploring too.

5. Queenstown Gardens: As Lush as it Gets

Living up to its international reputation, New Zealand is a world of natural wonders - even in the heart of a city. These gardens flaunt an incredible density of unique flora and fauna, with an emphasis on native trees and plants, each more exotic than the next. The tiny peninsula that extends into Lake Wakatipu also offers great facilities for rest and recreation - from lounging fields to skating rinks. Walk the Queenstown Trail along the waterside to take in the full range of surrounding views.

1. Skyline Gondola: Panoramic Views

Queensland's landscape is stunning from every perspective, but the most mind-blowing point of view is offered on a magical ride on the Skyline Gondola. Float over the steep hill that towers majestically over the city - as the houses get smaller, the region expands before your very eyes. Behold Lake Wakatipu snaking through the valley, and let yourself be stunned by the snow-capped peaks in the distance. There is a restaurant at the top, alongside outdoor entertainment like the popular luge.

2. The Remarkables Ski Area: Living up to the Name

This pristine corner of New Zealand is best known for its ski resorts, and every winter the mountainside comes alive with elated vacationers shooting down the slopes. Lake Wakatipu stands stoically below as snow trails lead past smaller alpine waters with surprising scenery around every corner. The purity of the landscape here is hard to believe, and it never gets old as you get your thrills on the way down.

3. Coronet Peak Ski Area: Let it Snow

For alpine enthusiasts, the winter months bring a perfectly groomed paradise, as the slopes of Coronet Peak become one of the area's best resorts. Often considered the pioneering resort of the region, this ski area boasts some of the most extensive facilities too, offering night skiing and state-of-the-art lifts that get you back to the top in no time at all. World-class athletes train here each winter as well, but whether you are a beginner or an expert, you're sure to find a route suited to your level.

4. Skippers Canyon: Don't Look Down

With stunning peaks in every direction, the Queensland region is just begging to be explored. One of the greatest stops further afield, Skipper's Canyon, is nestled in the folds of the mountain range. Here, the Shotover River flows through a scenic gorge for over 10 miles, with cliffs dropping off dramatically into gushing waters below. A narrow suspension bridge traverses the canyon over a drop down below that you won't soon forget, and the wilderness on either side is well worth exploring too.

5. Queenstown Gardens: As Lush as it Gets

Living up to its international reputation, New Zealand is a world of natural wonders - even in the heart of a city. These gardens flaunt an incredible density of unique flora and fauna, with an emphasis on native trees and plants, each more exotic than the next. The tiny peninsula that extends into Lake Wakatipu also offers great facilities for rest and recreation - from lounging fields to skating rinks. Walk the Queenstown Trail along the waterside to take in the full range of surrounding views.

Where to Eat in Queenstown

As one might expect, Queenstown is home to dozens of restaurants, with flavors from all over the world finding their place in town. While some choose to leave the city and eat lunch in the Gibbston Valley wineries, there are plenty of fine dining options in Queenstown, including the Ballarat Trading Co. and Fishbone Queenstown. Budget options include Hamills and Fergburger. Dinner at a casual restaurant will run about NZ$10, while fine dining will easily quadruple that bill.

When to visit Queenstown

Queenstown in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 93
1 night at 3-star hotel
Queenstown in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 93
1 night at 3-star hotel

Queenstown truly is an all-seasons experience. Winters (from June - August) provide snow for skiing with average temperatures hovering around 39 degrees Fahrenheit, while summers (from December - February) see temperatures hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit - perfect for hiking, biking, and numerous other sports.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Queenstown

Plane

Queenstown has its own international airport (ZQN) with connecting flights to both domestic cities and foreign locations such as Sydney, Australia. Once at the airport, the Connectabus line 11/12 runs every 20 minutes into town for an NZ$8 one-way fare. Taxis can also be called and will run about NZ$20-25.

Car

Queenstown is connected to the rest of the South Island by highway 6, which connects to the 8 and 85 east of town, and the 97 just south of it. If you're driving from Christchurch, expect fantastic scenery over the course of your six-hour journey.

Bus

A number of bus companies connect Queenstown to the rest of the South Island, including Tracknet, Newmans Coachlines, and InterCity. Fares can be quite affordable if you book far in advance, as some lines offer prices starting at NZ$1. Tickets can be purchased online as well as in person at numerous ticket booths throughout town. The intercity bus stop is located on Athol Street in the center of town.

Airports near Queenstown

Airlines serving Queenstown

United Airlines
Good (2,617 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,071 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,169 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,120 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (974 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (749 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (237 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (219 reviews)
Finnair
Good (580 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,274 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (710 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (113 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (130 reviews)
Virgin Atlantic
Good (278 reviews)
EVA Air
Excellent (68 reviews)
Hawaiian Airlines
Excellent (459 reviews)
Air New Zealand
Excellent (41 reviews)
Jetstar
Good (69 reviews)
Virgin Australia
Good (79 reviews)
China Eastern
Excellent (11 reviews)
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Where to stay in Queenstown

Downtown - home to bustling nightlife, souvenir shops, outdoor gear stores, and many of the city's convenience stores, this is the liveliest part of the city. Since most of Queenstown's population at any one time is made up of tourists, you're very likely to find yourself surrounded by a young crowd in this area.

Popular Neighborhoods in Queenstown

Arrowtown - Arrowtown is Queenstown's historic district. Attracting an older, or at least calmer, crowd, Arrowtown offers an authentic and relaxing atmosphere to its guests. Over 20 restaurants and brew-pubs can be found in the district, which is packed with luxury hotels.

Glenorchy Road - those looking to get as far away from the city as possible, without leaving it, gravitate toward Glenorchy Road. This area has a mix of different accommodation with expansive views of the lake and a definite touch of wilderness.

Where to stay in popular areas of Queenstown

Most booked hotels in Queenstown

Heritage Queenstown
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 212+
Holiday Inn Queenstown Frankton Road
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
C$ 173+
Scenic Suites Queenstown
Excellent (8.3, Excellent reviews)
C$ 210+
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 262+
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 207+
Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 203+

How to Get Around Queenstown

Public Transportation

Queenstown is a small city, but it does have a local bus service operated by Connectabus. This service connects to destinations such as the airport, O'Connells Shopping Centre, and Wanaka. Fares are NZ$33 for a day pass. There is also a night bus that operates on weekends.

Taxi

Queenstown is served by several taxis. The average pick-up price is NZ$5.00, and an additional NZ$8 are added with each mile. Meanwhile, there is also a water taxi service connecting different parts of the lake.

Car

If you're only trying to enjoy Queenstown's city center, walking should be all you have to do. However, exploring the surrounding area can be a bit difficult without a car. Car rentals start at about NZ$35 per day for a compact car, and local companies include Avis and Apex Car Rentals.

Best car rental deals in Queenstown

Premium SUV

5 adults, 5 Bags

C$ 97/day

Premium SUV

The Cost of Living in Queenstown

Shopping Streets

You'll be able to pick up souvenirs in the town center, which often features inflated prices due to the influx of tourists. You'll also find lots of shops at the Queenstown Mall and at Steamer Wharf. Shops also offer luxury items from throughout New Zealand to guests willing to pay. Meanwhile, hikers and adventurers will have no problem stocking up or replacing gear at Queenstown's outdoor shops.

Groceries and Other

Queenstown has three big supermarkets towards the edge of town: FreshChoice, Pak'n Save, and Four Square (which has an outlet near the intercity bus stop). Two small outlets lie within the city center. A pound of apples can be bought for NZ$1.50, while a loaf of bread fetches NZ$1.90. Meat can be expensive, with a pound of chicken fetching nearly NZ$8 in local markets.

Cheap meal
C$ 15.08
A pair of jeans
C$ 105.38
Single public transport ticket
C$ 7.05
Cappuccino
C$ 4.21