Top 10 Queenstown Activities

Located at the heart of the Southern Lakes ski region – the most popular ski destination in New Zealand – Queenstown is just as lively in winter as it is in summer.

Queenstown has earned its title as the “adventure capital of New Zealand” for a reason. Both on-slope and off, this town’s thrills deliver. From skydiving to jet-boating, heli-skiing to rafting, you’ll never get bored in Queenstown.

There are plenty of quieter (and less expensive) Queenstown activities to choose from as well, when you need a bit of time to wind down after a long week of skiing. Check out the top 10 activities on offer:

1. Skyline Gondola

Queenstown activities Skyline Gondola dinner

Credit: Skyline Gondola Queenstown

The classic view over Queenstown is found at the top of Bob’s Peak, where the Skyline Gondola ends. The jagged mountains and deep blue lake are stunning at any angle, but from a bird’s-eye view the Wakatipu Basin will take your breath away.

Queenstown activities Kiwi Birdlife Park

Credit: Tourism New Zealand

If you want to make an excursion out of it, there are a number of activities on offer at the top of the Skyline Gondola, from buffet meals and Maori cultural shows to luge rides and paragliding trips (though you’ll need to book the paragliding in advance).

2. Kiwi Birdlife Park

This bird and reptile sanctuary is involved in the conservation of New Zealand’s most vulnerable native species – and it offers you a chance to get up-close and personal with kiwis, tuataras, and more.

Check out their daily schedule of events for more details on their scheduled shows.

3. Ivan Clarke Gallery

Ivan Clarke was once a very talented landscape painter, but he found his fame in re-imagining city life with dogs and cats as the characters! Kids and adults alike will have fun following the adventures of his recurring characters. (The cats are the “high society,” while the dogs are relegated to the lower class.)

Queenstown activities Ivan Clarke gallery Lonely Dog

Credit: Ivan Clarke

4.  Frisbee Golf

The Queenstown Gardens are fun to explore on their own, with a number of paths winding along the lakeshore and a gazebo in the centre, plus views in every direction. But if you have a bit more energy to burn off, you can rent frisbees and play a round of frisbee golf!

5. Ice Skating

Also situated in the Queenstown Gardens is the Queenstown Ice Arena. This covered skating rink is a fun outing  no matter the weather, with a cafe and bar to add to the experience.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Queenstown during the Winter Festival (22 – 25 June 2017), you can also skate at their special outdoor ice rink, with fairy lights in the trees all around to add to the atmosphere.

6. Underwater Observatory

Located on the waterfront at the KJet pier, Queenstown’s underwater observatory will give you a unique look at the wildlife lurking beneath the water. Keep an eye out for giant trout, eels, and diving ducks!

7. Arrowtown

Queenstown Activities: Arrowtown in Autumn

Credit: Tourism New Zealand

If you want to escape the bustle of downtown Queenstown, Arrowtown is a great destination only 20 minutes out of town. This historic gold rush village is home to a number of boutique shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants. Try your hand at gold panning, visit the historic Chinese Settlement, or simply stroll the picturesque streets.

8. Nightlife

Queenstown is famous for its scenery and thrills – and for its nightlife. In addition to its impressive array of restaurants, Queenstown has more bars than you can visit in a week (though there are bar crawls and pub crawls to join if you want to give it a try!).

The two ice bars are definitely worth a visit, and the streets are bustling until late at night.

Downtown Queenstown snow New Zealand

Credit: Tourism New Zealand

9. Adrenaline Activities

You can’t compile a list of Queenstown activities without mentioning the extreme sports. Walk down the main street, and you’ll get a taste of what’s on offer – jet boating, skydiving, bungy jumping, rafting, paragliding, 4WD safaris, canyon swings, luging, zip lining…the list goes on. Anything you can think of, you’ll probably find find here.

Shotover Jet Queenstown

Credit: Tourism New Zealand

10. Milford Sound

Queenstown is a convenient base for visiting one of New Zealand’s most famous destinations: Milford Sound. If you just have a day, book a coach tour or a flight to the majestic fiord for a cruise. You could also drive, though be prepared for a very long day.

If the Milford Road closes (which happens sometimes in winter), Doubtful Sound is a less-famous but even more spectacular fiord that is accessible all year round.