Top Five Outdoor Activities in Queenstown – (updated)

You’ll find countless exciting outdoor activities in Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of New Zealand.

The top outdoor activities in Queenstown are:

  • TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm
  • Shotover Jet
  • Helicopter Tour
  • Lord of the Rings Tour
  • Hiking

Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is surrounded by the Southern Alps. With mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers surrounding the stunning town, Queenstown is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

However, with so much variety on offer, it can be hard to choose.

Read on to find out why these are our top picks for outdoor activities in Queenstown.

The Best Outdoor Activities in Queenstown

1. TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm

tss earnslaw queenstown activities

Adults and children of all ages love this iconic cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard a historic steamship. Marvel at the panoramic views as you glide across the calm waters to Walter Peak High Country Farm, tucked in a narrow valley between mountains.

Once you arrive, enjoy a gourmet BBQ meal and a farm show. New Zealand’s rugged high country farm life is unique and captivating. In addition, children love meeting the friendly farm animals.

2. Shotover Jet

shotover jet queenstown activities

The Shotover Jet is an unforgettable thrill ride, the most famous of the many adrenaline activities in Queenstown.

Even children and fear-averse travelers have a fantastic time on the Shotover Jet. The 30-minute jet boat ride hurtles through the stunning Shotover Canyons, with 360-degree spins and plenty of splashy fun.

In addition, since the Shotover Jet ride is short and departs frequently, it’s easy to fit in any itinerary.

3. Helicopter Tour

queenstown helicopter tour

The mountains around Queenstown are jagged and steep, often inaccessible except by air. Therefore, the best way to see the breathtaking wilderness around Queenstown is with a helicopter tour.

Some of the best Queenstown helicopter tours are:

  • Earnslaw Burn Flight: land below a hanging glacier with waterfalls
  • The Remarkables: fly in front of the iconic Remarkables Range
  • Milford Sound: fly over Mt Aspiring National Park and through Fiordland National Park
  • Heli Skiing: carve new lines on untouched backcountry powder

From short helicopter flights to full-day flightseeing tours, helicopter tours are among the most rewarding activities in Queenstown. You can even combine a helicopter flight with another activity. For instance, book a helicopter Lord of the Rings tour or fly to a high country farm for an exclusive gourmet meal.

4. Lord of the Rings Tour

new zealand lord of the rings tour queenstown glenorchy
STopping at the viewpoint on the way to Glenorchy on a Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour

Isengard. Lothlorien. The Misty Mountains. Some of the most dramatic Lord of the Rings locations were filmed around Queenstown.

Check off the top Lord of the Rings filming locations on a Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour. With experienced guides and replica props, you’ll get a true Middle-earth experience. And this isn’t just for fans. Lord of the Rings tours are a great way to explore the gorgeous scenery of Glenorchy.

Where was Lord of the Rings filmed in Queenstown?

  • Paradise Valley, Glenorchy: Isengard and Lothlorien
  • Deer Park Heights: The Refugees of Rohan
  • Twelve Mile Delta: Ithilien Camp
  • Arrow River: Ford of Bruinen
  • Lake Alta: Dimrill Dale
  • Kawarau Gorge: The River Anduin and the Pillars of the Kings

5. Hiking

Queenstown is home to some of New Zealand’s most famous hikes. In summer, many hikers tackle the famous Great Walks nearby: the Routeburn Track, the Milford Track, and the Kepler Track. And in winter, you can still hike at lower elevations where trails aren’t covered by snow.

Some of the best hikes in Queenstown are:

  • Ben Lomond
  • Routeburn Track
  • Greenstone-Caples Track
  • Queenstown Hill Walking Track

Can you walk up to Skyline Queenstown?

Yes. A trail leads up through pine forest to the Skyline Queenstown complex at the top of Bob’s Peak. After that, the trail continues to the summit of Ben Lomond.

Planning a holiday with activities in Queenstown

What else is there to do in Queenstown?

  • Skiing and Snowboarding
  • Skydiving
  • Bungy jumping
  • Skyline Gondola and Luge
  • Wine Tours
  • Rafting
  • Canyon Swing
  • Zipline Canopy Tour
  • Canyoning
  • Paragliding
  • “Funyaking” (paddling in inflatable kayaks)
  • Kiwi Birdlife Park

Whatever you choose to do in Queenstown, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time. Whether you come for the weather, the scenery or the thrills, you can take home a little bit of everything in this idyllic New Zealand town.

How do I spend a day in Queenstown?

  • Head to Arrowtown in the morning for coffee or brunch at one of the local cafes and stroll through the historic town center.
  • In the afternoon, make time for the activity or activities of your choice. Try the Shotover Jet, a skydive or bungy jump, or a Lord of the Rings tour.
  • In the evening, ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for a sunset dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant.


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