Queenstown Destination Guide
In the heart of New Zealand's South Island, on the lightning bolt-shaped Lake Wakatipu, is Queenstown. The 1860s gold rush first delivered prosperity here and these days it gets visitors' adrenalin running for another reason: adventure tourism. With peaks to scale, ski and snowboard; and waterways to paddle and jet boat, this is an outdoor-lover's holiday dream. Bungy jumping, canyon swinging, whitewater rafting and river surfing are also on offer. If you're after something more sedate, Queenstown delivers that too – there are more than 75 wineries in the region and several day spas.
There's a host of things to do in Queenstown. Its natural beauty can be enjoyed year round, as can many of its adventure sports. If you'd like to ski or snowboard, book a flight to Queenstown to between mid-June and early October. Hit the powder on the 5 international standard areas. Get high with a chopper tour, sky dive, bungy jump, hang glide or paraglide. Get wet with a jet boat ride, white water rafting or river surf. Get dirty with an off-road adventure. For a stunning view of the area, take the Skyline gondola 450 metres up to Bob's Peak – there's a bar, restaurant and cafe at the top – then you can luge back down the mountain!
Eat and Drink
Queenstown dishes up prime fare from award-winning chefs through to the humble burger/fish and chips. International cuisine is available to complement fresh, local produce too. Whether you tuck into South Island salmon, roast New Zealand lamb or just have a drink at the bar, the view from the Skyline is unrivalled in Queenstown restaurants. Atop Bob's Peak, and with tiered seating, mountain and lake views are guaranteed from every table. Back on the ground, for a taste of history in a welcoming, cosy spot, have a drink at Eichardt's Bar (built 1867) and dinner at Gantley's Historic Restaurant (built 1863). Best to make a reservation for dinner.
Given the popularity of adventure tourism here, there's no shortage of outdoor outfitters, (So don't worry if you've forgotten to pack a particular outdoorsy item). You'll also find Kiwi-grown wool and sheepskin clothing here and greenstone (pounamu) jewellery is also popular. Queenstown shopping is not really for the bargain hunter but who could want to shop with such an exquisite environment on the doorstep? Of course, if you're in self-contained accommodation you'll have no problem stocking the fridge and the cupboards during your stay – particularly if you visit the Saturday farmers' market – just don't stay inside too long!
Queenstown like a Local
Most restaurant kitchens will close around 9pm so it's worth making an inquiry if you're likely to dine later. This doesn't mean the nightlife stops early too though – quite the opposite. Queenstown enjoys an apres-ski atmosphere year round and it's particularly spirited during its 2 major annual festivals: Summerdaze (end of December–end January) and Winter Festival (June). If you're coming to town during these peak times, make sure you book accommodation in advance.
Search for your Queenstown holiday
Or take a look at some suggested itineraries...
New Zealand: Best of Both Islandstailor this journeyRead more >>From the tranquil waters of the Bay of Islands and the geothermal Maori heartland of the north to the awe-inspiring glaciers and adrenaline-inducing activities of the south, this self-drive holiday is full of spectacular discoveries. Enjoy the Best of Both Islands as you immerse yourself in New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery.20 Days from£3,275 ppBook by 31 Aug 2017
New Zealand: Essential New Zealandtailor this journeyRead more >>Covering some of New Zealand’s best loved attractions, this compact Journey is well-suited to those with less time to spare. Covering the mountains and adrenaline sports of Queenstown, the geological wonders of Rotorua and the peaceful landscapes of the Bay of Islands, you’ll also have the chance to explore the vibrant cities of Auckland and Christchurch.15 Days from£2,169 ppBook by 18 Sep 2017
New Zealand: Essential South Islandtailor this journeyRead more >>Short on time but still want to cover the very best of New Zealand’s South Island? Then this is the Journey for you. You’ll get the most out of the spectacular mountain ranges, creeping glaciers, sun-drenched vineyards and varied wildlife found in this naturally beautiful region, plus spend time in the island’s main city, Christchurch, all in a little over two weeks.15 Days from£2,559 ppBook by 18 Sep 2017
New Zealand North Island
New Zealand North Island: Middle Earth Explorertailor this journeyRead more >>Fans of all things Lord of the Rings are in for a treat with this epic adventure through Middle Earth. Look out for Frodo and Bilbo in the Shire, go behind the scenes and see how the props were made. Visit various filming backdrops as you admire the glorious scenery that is the standout star of this popular film franchise.17 Days from£2,899 ppBook by 18 Sep 2017