One of the coolest little towns I have ever come across is found in the South Island of New Zealand. Although this whole country is amazing, there is something special about Queenstown. The town is built around Lake Wakatipu and with its beautiful scenery, endless amount of activities and adventures and good nightlife this is definitely the perfect getaway for anyone from families to backpackers.
Since I first got here I have left a few times to go explore the rest of the country and I also had plans to move to the north island for summer but I have always found myself coming back and I know that is also the case for a lot of other people coming here. Most people just fall in love with this very special town. If you are planning on spending some time here during your travels to New Zealand, there is no way you will get bored in Queenstown! Having said that, this place is known to be a bit pricy, therefore I thought I would list my best tips for a fun few days in Queenstown without breaking your budget!
Queenstown Skyline Gondola
Just a few minutes walk from the heart of town is the Skyline Gondola that takes you up to Bob’s Peak. Views from up here are UNBELIEVABLE. I remember when I first got here I had never seen anything like it before. The Gondola ride is $33NZD (may vary to season) and you will also want to get at least three rides on the famous Luge (you pay for everything together before you board the Gondola). The Luge is a little cart that you drive yourself down two different tracks up on the mountain. It is great fun and you can go as fast or as slow as you want. This is something me and my friends love to do on our days off. Both the Gondola and three rides on the Luge is around $50NZD but if you feel like saving some money there is actually a track so that you can walk all the way up to Bob’s Peak, this takes about 45-60 minutes.
In the Queenstown Gardens, just beside the beach in town, there is a free Frisbee golf course. All you have to pay for is a Frisbee which you can rent from one of the travel shops like Peter Pan for only five dollars (or for free if you have booked something with them before). The course is 18 holes and me and my friends usually bring some beers with us and play mostly for fun and afterwards finish with some food and drinks on the beach. At the beach there is always heaps of people and the view (like everywhere in Queenstown) is amazing. On a sunny day you will also get to see a magical sunset over the mountains behind the lake.
Another one for the views! And for the exercise. This track starts a little bit above town but there are signs all the way from the town centre. It takes approximately 1-2 hours to get up to the top and the hardest part is actually getting from town to the track since it is located on a pretty steep hill (You will notice there are a lot of steep hills in Queenstown). But once you have gotten to the start of track I find the hike to get a bit easier. At the top you will once again get amazing views, both over the city, the lake and the surrounding mountains. This is my perfect daily adventure since it gives you a bit of exercise as well as a fun day out!
Gibbston Valley Winery
Because who doesn’t like a trip that involves wine and cheese? And New Zealand wines are really great. Gibbston Valley is only a 30 minute drive away from town, make sure you decide who is driving beforehand or arrange for a pick up, anyone who has ever gone wine tasting know that it is quite easy to get a bit tipsy. If you want to do this the absolute cheapest way you can drive to the winery yourself and buy a few tastings but if you are willing to spend a bit more money I have heard a lot of good things about the “bike, wine, dine” trips they arrange. You get to cycle around the winery and have wine and food tastings along the way. Price of $215NZD for two adults also includes transport to and from Queenstown.
This track is actually closer to Wanaka but it is still only a bit over an hour drive from Queenstown and since it is one of my favorite hikes, I had to add it to the list. Roy’s Peak is one of the toughest hikes I have done but also one of the most rewarding with its amazing view. It takes your breath away! You can manage the track up and down from everything between three and seven hours depending on what shape you are in, it is mostly (okay only) uphill and taking a few short breaks on the way might be necessary but it is definitely do-able. There were a few ladies in their seventies who made it up without a problem when I was there last time. I would strongly recommend doing this in time for sunset, the colors surrounding the mountains around you at sunset are unreal, just make sure you bring warm clothes as it does get cold and windy 1600m above sea level.
Bob’s Cove is another nice and free little daytrip only 14km from Queenstown. Once at the car park you follow a 20 min long track along the lake side until you come to a little jetty. This is a nice and easy walk if you by any chance get tired of climbing mountains (there are a lot of mountains and hills in New Zealand). This spot is perfect for a picnic, a swim and just to relax. The water is crystal clear and once again the view is amazing. A very nice place to bring along your friends for a day away from town!
That was a few of my tips for cheaper Activities in Queenstown, although if you are only here once I would recommend you to spend a bit of money on doing some of the pricier things as well. Queenstown is pretty much the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand and there is a few things you shouldn’t miss out on like canyoning, the world’s highest bungee jump, zip line, skydive, paragliding, rock climbing etc, there is so much to do here! And if you don’t want to spend too much money on activities during the day there is a big chance of spending it all at night. In Queenstown basically every day is Saturday and clubs and bars are always busy and a lot of fun! No matter what you decide on doing during your stay in Queenstown I am sure you will have an awesome time.
See you in Queenstown!