Queenstown is notorious as the activity capital of New Zealand and despite being the faaarthest thing from an adrenaline junkie, I was still super excited to see Queenstown and in fact stayed for a whole week and still found heaps of things to see and do!
And since I’m sure I’m not the only one who prefers scenic walks, grazing at food markets and taking in a bit of local culture over swinging off bridges and plunging out of planes, I figured I’d write a post on everything that’s do-able in Queenstown if you are NOT an adrenaline junkie…
Take a ride on the Skyline Gondola
I mean, maybe this one is classed as adrenaline if you’re afraid of heights? If you are and are keen on conquering your fear then jump on the Skyline Gondola for one amazing view of Queenstown. Once at the top, you can also dine in the restaurant, browse the souvenir store, take a luge ride or if you are feeling brave, try out paragliding, ziplining or bungee jumping.
Wander through Queenstown Gardens
Make your way to the waterfront and head left through the war memorial towards the start of Queenstown Gardens, where you can walk along the edge in a loop with stunning views of Lake Wakitipu forever following your footsteps. By the end of the loop (just past the ice arena) you’ll be able to cut across – through the small and pretty botanic gardens – to reach the starting point again and return to town.
Walk Frankton Arm
If you were to walk around Queenstown Gardens, just before cutting across the gardens to return to town, you could actually extend your walk by following the Queenstown trail along Frankton Arm. You’re basically guaranteed even more mountain views across the lake, before reaching the cute little Boat Shed café where you can stop for coffee or lunch. If you don’t fancy walking back, you can opt to take the water taxi from the marina to town!
Take a day trip to Arrowtown
Less than 30 minutes on the bus from Queenstown, you’ll be transported to another time in the quaint little gold-mining town of Arrowtown. Here, you can stroll along Buckingham Street, lined with boutiques, gift shops, cafes and restaurants, before popping in to the District Museum and also checking out the historic Chinese settlement. If you have time on your hands, you could pick one of the several walking trails from Arrow River to extend your day trip.
Take another day trip to Glenorchy
Glenorchy is a little harder to visit without your own transport as no local buses go there but luckily there are a couple of tours meaning it is possible to visit the beautiful surrounds of Glenorchy! The Queenstown-Glenorchy road is known as one of the most scenic in New Zealand and you won’t be disappointed with the views. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, going on a tour means your guide will point out a few filming locations and there will be stops for you to learn more and take some snaps. Read more about my day trip there with Altitude Tours!
Explore the town
Many a morning, afternoon or evening can be spent strolling through town and checking out the variety of stores, eateries and bars in the area. You’ll come across the famous Fergburger – hard to miss for the line of people queuing outside the door – and it’s little siblings, FergBaker and Mrs Fergs Gelateria. ALL worth trying, NONE disappoint. Queenstown is equally amazing by night so be sure to check out some of the best bars in town during your stay.
Go ice skating
If this was an outdoor rink with a backdrop of mountains, I personally think Queenstown would be on to a winner! However, it is an indoor ice arena set in the middle of Queenstown Gardens. Make an afternoon of it by strolling through the gardens, trying your best not to fall over on the ice and then warming up with a drink at The Bathhouse café.
Ride a jetboat (for that tiny bit of adrenaline hiding within you!)
Book yourself on to one of the jetboat tours that you’ll see advertised pretty much everywhere in town. There’s several options to choose from and after a bit of debating, I finally opted for Shotover Jet, purely because it’s based in the Shotover Canyon with others based on the lake only. Get a seat in the front row for some awesome views of the canyons and hold on tight for those 360 spins!
Visit the Sunday Arts and Crafts market
It’s not a huge market, but if taking a unique piece of somewhere home with you is your thing, then you can’t go wrong with checking out the crafts market, found every Sunday by the waterfront in Queenstown between 9am and 3pm. Or between October and April, you can check out Remarkables Market held in Frankton… because it’s not every day you get to browse a food market with the amazing backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain range.
Explore nearby Wanaka
Although I’m sure most travelling the South Island of New Zealand would have Wanaka slotted somewhere in their itinerary, if you’re taking a short trip purely to Queenstown it would be a great idea to check out Wanaka for a day trip at least! On route, try and take a stop at the insanely beautiful Blue Pools. Often being described as ‘the little Queenstown’, there’s still heaps of activities to do in Wanaka, it’s also home to amazing lakeside-mountain views and that famous Wanaka Tree.
More things to do in Queenstown if you’re seeking calm over crazy…
No matter what you do, the atmosphere and views of Queenstown are enough to make anyone love it! Hopefully this is a helpful start for you non-adrenaline junkies out there!