Queenstown is one of the most majestic and scenic places on earth. With stunning mountains, ice peaks, snow-capped hills, crystal clear water and in the top 10 for sunshine hours per year it is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime.
Our starter guide is written by New Zealanders for both local and international visitors, based on our own extensive travel in and around Queenstown, research and consulting local guides for the most accurate data.
If you’re new to Queenstown or have a short visit, these four activities will give you thrills, luxury, exercise and adventure. As a your first four activities in Queenstown, we’re sure you’ll want more!
One of the most talked about aspects of visiting Queenstown is the clean, clear water absent of pollution. The beauty of Queenstown is not tarnished by the 2.1 Million tourists1 that visit each year and the Shotover River Jet boat team are committed to upholding Queenstown’s reputation.
Just ten minutes from Queenstown are the sharp Shotover Canyons where a jet boat will speed you around jagged rocks, in swallow water, boulders lining the river and at 85 kph you are guaranteed to have one of the most exciting rides of your life. Over 3million people2 have braved the Shotover Jet since it opened in 1965. Each ride is 25 minutes and launches from Edith Cavell Bridge in Arthurs Point, 7kms from Queenstown. Due to the speed of the ride, chill can be a factor and people are encouraged to wear warm, waterproof clothing, including gloves. Children under 10 years of age can travel on the jet without their parents if permission is given, and each rider must be over 1 meter tall to participate.
A key feature of visiting Queenstown and indeed anywhere in New Zealand is the pristine nature of the water. Walking the Routeburn track is an alpine adventure due to the height of the trail as it winds through the Routeburn gorge and traces the Routeburn River.
Along this track are the thunderous Routeburn Falls. If you love tramping, set aside 2 to 4 days for this 32km trek that does have some seasonal restrictions. Huts with gas cooking stoves and campsites need to be booked in advance between October and April.
From May to September experience is required, the weather is colder and you’ll need to check for announcements and warnings as this is the real, natural and sometimes dangerously beautiful New Zealand. On the plus side, in the older months both huts and campsites do not need to be booked and can be used on a first-come best-rested basis.
Azure Lodge is your stay of luxury during your Queenstown adventure. Consistently gaining top ratings on travel sites, Azure’s private villas include everything from free Wi-Fi, audio visual equipment, turn-down services, climate control and even a champagne list for your romantic dinner or bath-time over looking spectacular views of the mountains and lake. Services include New Zealand wine on arrival, breakfast, transfers from central Queenstown and the airport and access is the Queenstown gym is included.
No visit to Queenstown would be complete without experiencing the mighty bungy jump. New Zealander AJ Hackett invented the bungy cord 27 years ago and now the sport is an international phenomenon. The Kawarau Bungy Jump is the original location and sports a 43m jump off the historic Kawarau Bridge. You can choose to jump solo or jump tandem with a loved-one or random stranger, and you’ll get a free T-shirt to prove how brave you are.
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Finding accommodation in Queenstown
Queenstown is expensive, but you can save yourself a lot of money by shopping around on accommodation. Just bear in mind, it's a small town and if you want to be right in the centre, you'll need to pay accordingly – but if you want budget accommodation, there is plenty around if you don't mind a 10-15 minute walk to the centre of town. Use sites like Booking.com to compare prices (or, if you're really on a budget, use Hostelbookers.com).
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