If you missed the latest headlines, Queenstown has long been known as the adventure capital of the southern hemisphere with just over 1 million visitors annually.
Queenstown is the most popular tourist destination of the whole south island, with a great mix of both family friendly activities as well as those perfect for the adrenaline junkie travellers.
Some of the best queenstown activities involve simply visiting a local cafe or winery through to zip-lining through the trees or jumping out of an aeroplane at 14,000ft.
We visited Queenstown New Zealand back in May this year and quickly realised this tourist mecca has a ton to offer everyone, so in order to not forget anything we’ve created this kick-ass guide to 25 of the most incredible activities in Queenstown that you should try on your next visit.
READ MORE: Plan the rest of your trip using our comprehensive Queenstown travel guide
Here are 25 of the best activities in Queenstown you need to try
From the rugged mountain peaks of the southern alps, the white powdered ski slopes of Cardrona and the remarkables mountain range to jet boat tours on Lake Wakatipu you could fill your days with activity after activity.
To get the most out of your time in Queenstown, New Zealand we recommend spending at least a week here between all the hiking trails, downhill mountain biking and jumping out of airplanes you can get lost in it all.
Getting up early and staying out late is what we did each day and that’s what we also recommend you doing too.
To help bring this article to you we use one of the most trusted names in the activity world- Get Your Guide. They offer competitive prices on a wide range of activities in almost every city in the world. You can check out the full list of Queenstown adventures here.
Our Blog contains affiliate links, which just means that we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to purchase the activities with the links provided below. It helps us continue to provide you with handy awesome guides, and you get the best advice on the web.
Water activities – Shotover river jet boating
Proudly owned and operated by the Ngai tahu Maori people, one of the most popular attractions in Queenstown is the shotover river jet boating experience.
This high speed jet boating ride hurls its way through Shotover canyon at 90km/hr for 25 minutes solid.
Their water jets are capable of holding up to 16 people per vessel and spin 360 degrees in a moments notice.
Luckily the team here provide everyone with a life jacket, a video/photo opportunity during the ride as well as lockers on site to store all your luggage.
Shotover River is a 7 minute car ride north of downtown queenstown up Gorge rd where you will pass Queenstown Hill and the queenstown hill walking track on your right to keep in mind for later on.
Cruise Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw
Hop on board this early 19th century coal-fired steam engine boat operated by Real Journeys to see some of the most spectacular scenery this side of Queenstown.
The TSS Earnslaw has been in operation since 1912 and to this day takes visitors on board across the alpine scenery along Lake Wakatipu into Colonel’s homestead and is somewhat of an historic experience.
Tours depart regularly throughout the day and guests meet at the Real NZ Visitor centre at Steamer wharf, or if you’ve pre-purchased tickets just meet at the TSS earnslaw dock.
See the workers shovel coal into the burner as you cruise along stunning Lake Wakatipu.
Enjoy a gourmet BBQ lunch or dinner after disembarking at the Walter Peak High country farm on the southern side of Lake wakatipu.
The entire Queenstown scenic cruise runs for app 45 minutes with your whole half day tour running for 3.5 – 4 hours.
If a cruise simply isn’t enough to satisfy you, you have the option to combine your cruise with a gourmet lunch (if you didn’t choose that options already), guided farm tour or cycling.
Alternatively you can choose to go with Southern Discoveries on board the Spirit of Queenstown for under $40NZD for 1.5 hours and cruise Lake Wakatipu seeing panoramic views of the Remarkables mountain range, Bobs cove and Cecil Peak.
While you’re here at steamer wharf you should also try Perky’s floating bar for some cheap drinks, the only floating bar in New Zealand.
Hydro attack submersible ride
An experience like nothing you have ever heard of before, the crew at Hydro Attack have created this 15 minute fighter jet-like experience that takes visitors 2-4 metres underwater at around 40 km/hr before launching out of the water at 80km/hr, 6 metres high!
One of the best attractions in Queenstown runs for 15 minutes with your pilot pushing the g-force limit to give you the best experience possible.
We chickened out of this one but $155NZD you’ll get flipped, sharp 90 degree turns and high speed donuts to get the heart racing along Lake Wakatipu.
It’s one of only a handful of jet boating experiences in New Zealand and departs just outside of queenstown center along the wharf walk path.
Take to the Air – NZONE Skydive over Queenstown
Want to know what it’s like to fall at 200 km/hr out of an aeroplane from 15,000 ft? Well with NZONE skydive you can!
Wondering what to do in Queenstown on a clear, early morning over central Otago or Lake Wakatipu?
The crew over at Skydive Queenstown will literally push you out of their aircraft from one of New Zealand’s first tandem skydiving organisation.
Having been granted the Supreme tourist award and around since 1990, you can feel safe and trust in these guys to deliver a fantastic experience for $399NZD
The most exciting part of any skydive is the views from the top as you fall at terminal velocity towards Earth, take in the breathtaking views over Lake wakatipu, the general Queenstown bay area or the Remarkables mountain range with your buddy strapped to your back.
If you want to get a bit further out of central queenstown and skydive elsewhere, the folks over at Cheeky Kiwi Travel run a full day Aoraki/Mt Cook skydive tour where you also visit local fruit farms, a high country salmon farm as well as exploring Aoraki from ground level.
This really is one of the most fun activities in Queenstown, visit their website for more information or check their availability below.
Take a leap of faith with Bungy Jumping
Ever since the AJ hackett group brought commercialised bungy jumping to Queenstown in 1987, it has become one of those bucket-list things to do in Queenstown.
Only 40-90 minutes (depending on location) outside of queenstown, AJ hackett bungy group offer three distinct bungy adventure tours.
Free fall: 8.5 seconds
Age/weight restrictions: > 13 years old, 45kg-127 kg
Location: Nevis River, 1.5 hours from central queenstown (pick up from downtown queenstown on their 4WD bus from the corner of shotover st and camp st at the Bungy centre)
Check in: 30 minutes before departure
Cost: $275NZD per person
Do it by yourself or take a friend with you and take the Nevis Swing, the world famous 300m swing arc where you free fall for 2 seconds before swinging across the surrounding mountains back and forth.
Height: 300m arc
How: start inverted, backwards, sitting or standing
Time: allow 4 hours for the whole tour
Cost: $225NZD per person
This is seriously a one of a kind attraction in Queenstown that may or may not leave you wanting more (or less)
Be catapulted through the air like superman at astonishing speeds that would make superman frown.
Speed: 100 km/hr in 1.5 seconds
length: 150m catapult
For tickets and availability visit their website here
Kawarau river bungy jumping
We did tell you that Queenstown is the adventure capital of the southern hemisphere and jumping off a bridge and touching the water is no exception.
The kawarau river jump is a 43 metre (141 ft) high bridge jump that you can complete solo or tandem, and one of the few bungys where you can touch the water at the bottom.
The Kawarau river bridge is only a 30 minute drive from Queenstown so it’s a very convenient day trip where you can go there and come back within 2-3 hours.
Go Canyoning 10 minutes from the town center
The best part about visiting somewhere you’ve never been is doing something you’ve never done, and if you have never tried Canyoning before you might just discovered your next favourite hobby.
Canyoning is all about navigating your way across turbulent river systems and waterfalls through a maze of rock faces, using ropes and harnesses to rappel down and swim through.
Not only is this one of the best Queenstown activities, it’s an incredibly fun activity if you want to challenge yourself.
Only 10 minutes from downtown, Canyon Explorers run a fantastic half day tour as well as full day trips, or you can drive a little further out of town to Mt Aspiring for a full day canyoning experience.
Sign up for a half day canyoning experience in Gibbston Valley with this super popular tour that regularly sells out.
Every tour company provides you with the essentials such as life jackets, dry bags, a harness, helmet, all your safety gear and really awesome tour guides to have the best time.
The Gibbston valley tour sells for $219NZD, you can check availability of their tours below.
SUP or Kayak Moke Lake
Queenstown’s Lake wakatipu hosts a variety of unique attractions on the south island, but another lake 20 minutes out of town called Moke Lake is where you’ll be able to go stand up paddle boarding or kayaking on.
We found it easiest to hire our own car and do the drive ourselves from town.
There’s also great opportunity to try some awesome hiking trails such as the Moke Lake loop track which is an easy (grade 3) 2 hour loop track that starts and finishes at the Moke Loop reserve.
If you really enjoy hiking trails then leave a spare day to try the Ben lomond track, or use the mountain bike track instead.
The road you take to get to Moke Lake is the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, so after you’re hike here continue onwards to Glenorchy for some of the most stunning mountain views in all of Queenstown.
The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy should take you no more than an 42 minutes, or 45 minutes from Moke Lake.
Helicopter tour and Alpine landing
For one of the most fun activities in Queenstown, a 20 minute helicopter flight with an alpine landing has to be top of the list.
Be picked up from your hotel and shuttled to Queenstown airport to check in for your flight.
On the day, your pilot will choose the best route to take circling over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown, before finding a spot to land high in the mountains at a clearing where only helicopters could land.
During winter you will be landing on snow capped peaks, and during summer and spring you’ll get to experience the rugged mountain terrain of the southern alps.
Expect to pay around $230NZD per person, which is honestly one of the most competitive prices on the market considering where you are!
After your flight and exploration in the mountains your pilot returns you back to the airport and transferred back to your hotel.
For something a little longer, why not take a 50 minute helicopter flight to the Glaciers of Mt Aspiring national park for less than $600NZD.
Paraglide off a mountain
One of the most unique attractions you can do in Queenstown is to paraglide off the top of Coronet Peak with a highly qualified instructor.
It’s actually the highest take off spot in all of New Zealand and this particular activity allows you to learn the art of paragliding, where you will be instructed to take control of the glider under their supervision.
In actual fact, it’s twice the height of the Skyline gondola at the top of Bob’s Peak, for those not afraid of heights.
At 1100 vertical metre, this 5 star queenstown attraction sells like hot cakes so best you secure your spot well in advance, with free cancellation and refund up to 24 hours before your flight time.
Zip lining adventures on Bob’s Peak
Climb to the top of Bob’s peak for a collection of Queenstown’s most popular activities, the likes of zip lining, go-karts, hiking trails and amazing scenic views over Lake Wakatipu.
The most popular activity on Bob’s Peak is the Zip lining adventures run by Ziptrek ecotours.
The world’s steepest tree to tree zip line sees you plummet across 6 ziplines in total through 12 aerial tree top platforms.
On each platform you will be greeted by a guide who will tell you light hearted stories of local myths and cultural accounts of the local area and what the forest means to the Maori people.
To get here you can hike the tiki trail to the top which should not take you more than 1.5-2 hours in total, or you can book your ticket on the Skyline gondola to the top – the only thing you have to remembers is timing your arrival to the top with your zipline adventure so you don’t run late.
Ride the Luge
For the most family friendly activity in Queenstown, riding The Luge should be at the top of your list.
Located at the top of Bob’s peak, these purpose built carts let you control the speed and break whenever you want as they rely on gravity to build momentum.
Enjoy the stunning scenery over Queenstown bay on their 1600 metre track that you can ride multiple times in one session. You just need to take the chair lift to the top and start again.
From the top of Bob’s Peak there you have the most incredible views over Queenstown, including the Remarkables and far out east along Lake Wakatipu that can be enjoyed from the glass skywalk the surrounds the building.
Head inside afterwards for a warm cup of coffee or a bite to eat inside the Stratosphere restaurant and bar before either making your way back down the Tiki Trail, or the skyline queenstown gondola back down.
Once at the bottom if there’s still light out, head to Queenstown gardens just south of the Queenstown beach or go see Kea birds or Kiwi’s at the Kiwi birdlife park at the base of the gondola.
There’s plenty of day activities to choose from like the Queenstown gardens disc golf course, bowling and tennis club as well as the Queenstown gardens seasonal ice rink during the winter where you can try skating for the first time.
This purpose built indoor ice arena has some of the best queenstown activities on offer like ice skating, ice hockey, curling and even ice bumper cars!
You can book all three activities for $33NZD, or try the ice bumper cars for $17NZD for adults, or a bump and skate combo for $30NZD
Price: Ice skating – starts at $19NZD per person, Ice bumper – $17NZD (single ride)
Visit their website: https://www.queenstownicearena.co.nz/
Learn to Rock climb in Queenstown
This may not have been what you thought you’d do be doing when you think of outdoor activities in Queenstown, but rock climbing is an exhilirating experience that really gets your blood pumping.
This particular small group tour focuses on both beginners and experienced climbers and is conveniently located less than 10 minutes from the town center.
The tour includes a professional guide with a full safety briefing before hand to allow you to just have fun on the day without worrying.
All your safety equipment is supplied, including helmets, harness, climbing shoes and courtesy transport to and from the climbing areas.
Learn to belay and support your partner as well as the technical aspects of climbing whilst learning something new.
Go off roading in a 4X4
Don’t miss this epic and unique adventure activity in Queenstown, New Zealand that’s consistently rated a 5/5 stars on Get Your Guide.
The crew at Outback New Zealand offer their guests a 3.5 hour ATV (all terrain vehicle) adventure tours through their exclusive access of Queenstown Hill.
Their 400CC quad bikes also come with waterproof and weatherproof clothing, helmets and a guide to stunning panoramic ridges – so make sure you have your camera handy for this one.
You’ll get to drive your ATV’s across river systems, mud hills and steep mountains before some light refreshments at the top of Queenstown Hill.
Prices as of this year are $315NZD, with free cancellation (>24 hours before) ages 16 and older and a reserve now, pay later deal.
Guided tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy
Like we said earlier, Glenorchy is one of the most beautiful places in all of South Island, but getting there is also half the fun.
If you don’t feel like renting your own car, there’s a guided tour that departs Queenstown centre from the Station Information centre at the bench seat on Camp st – Open in Google Maps
After indulging in a kiwi-style morning tea, you start your 45 minute journey along the Glenorchy road where you’ll stop multiple times to admire Lake Wakatipu, native beech forest and the incredible mountain ranges all from your luxury Mercedes benz transport vehicle.
If you do plan on doing this road yourself please be mindful if you stop on the side to take photos or admire the scenery to pull over safely and avoid other road users so you don’t get hurt.
After arriving in Glenorchy and exploring the town, your guide will provide you with interesting stories and insights into local maori culture before making your way to Paradise and Diamond lake.
This tour also doubles as a scenic tour of some of the Lord of the Rings filming locations, like the Faramir’s Ranges, the Giants Oliphaunts and the 12 mile delta.
If you’re a mega LOTR fan then why not dress up in one of the costumes these guys provide you to really nerd out.
The tour costs $149NZD and regularly sells out so click the link below to reserve your spot.
Hit the ski slopes – Cardrona, Coronet Peak & the Remarkables
If you pick the weather and seasons right, the months of June to August transform into a winter wonderland and every snowboarder and skier comes out of the woodwork to enjoy the slopes on the South Island.
The top activities to do in Queenstown during the winter is undoubtedly hitting the slopes of Cardrona, The Remarkables and Coronet peak.
The types of fun winter activities in Queenstown can range from epic heli-skiing on top of mountains, to guided snowmobiling tours all the way to the popular tandem winter paraglide experience.
The most popular ski mountain in Queenstown, Cardrona is a 53 minute drive from Queenstown along Crown range rd (access from crown range road excludes Vans – (there’s a hefty fine for using this road in a van)
There’s also daily shuttles that go from Queenstown and Wanaka to Cardrona, and a free shuttle from the Pine Trees car park except the last week of the season (October 16th)
More than 465 hectares with a top vertical lift access of 1860m over 7 chair lifts, a lift pass purchased here will cost you only $150NZD for the whole day
It may be smaller, but don’t underestimate the snow capped peaks of Coronet Peak, New Zealand.
Queenstown visitors come here to try out their night time ski adventures from Wednesday till Friday running 4pm till 9pm, 22nd June till the 2nd of September.
There’s also plenty of bars, restaurants, t-bars and three chair lifts to choose from, as well as the option to do ski lessons and Tobogganing.
It’s also the closest ski mountain to Queenstown and hence the most popular and easily accessible.
A scenic 24 km away from Queenstown, the Remarkables are a fascinating sight to behold from the bottom of the town center with 4, 6 seater high speed chairlifts in operation.
One of the best activities in Queenstown is to join a guided snowshoeing tour on the remarkables, during the season dates of 18th june- 16th October.
The Remarkables ski mountain is a family friendly Queenstown activity, offering ski rentals from multiple hire shops either on the mountain or back in town, as well as selling ski lift passes in the form of single day, multi day trips or season passes.
There’s even a downhill mountain bike track on the mountain, or for those into the extreme sports, a custom made downhill heli-bike track across 3000m of downhill track.
Mountain Adventures -Visit South Island’s Aoraki (Mount Cook)
One of our favourite places to visit in New Zealand is Aoraki, or Mount cook as it’s known in the English term.
New Zealand’s highest mountain range maxes out at 12,316 ft (3754m) and is centrally located on the south island in the Canterbury region.
Laura and I attempted to drive to this mountain on a day when the weather had turned fairly sour the night before, so unfortunately we didn’t get to see much or do any of the hikes like the Sealy Tarn track, or the Hooker Valley track, both of which are some of the most beautiful hikes in Mount Cook.
To get to this mountain, drive Mount Cook road around the western side of Lake Pukaki until you reach the Aoraki visitor centre and car park, or conversely why not take a scenic helicopter flight and perform an alpine landing!
If you’re coming from Christchurch then we recommend you join this guided tour of Aoraki and the Lake Tekapo.
The Southern alps most fascinating sight, Aoraki attracts thousands of visitors each year and is by far one of the most popular attractions near Queenstown.
See for yourself and check out one of the best Queenstown adventure activities below
Milford Sound scenic cruise
Speaking of mountains, surely those who plan to visit Queenstown can’t drive (or fly) past one of the south island’s most impressive destinations.
Hidden deep in the south-west corner is Fiordland national park, home to both Milford and Doubtful sound.
Visiting Milford is one of the most fun things to do in Queenstown and we enjoyed it so much here we even got engaged here!
We personally recommend staying a few nights at Milford Sound Lodge, basically the only accommodation this far into the national park and waking up early morning to take a scenic cruise along the Tasman Sea to see the Fiords.
These majestic mountains are stunning from both the land and the air, so if it’s within the budget we highly recommend taking a Milford Sound flight and boat cruise to get the best of both worlds.
Most adventure activities her range in price but expect to pay anywhere from $199 – $600 NZD for a 12 hour return trip from Queenstown.
Doubtful sound wilderness cruise
Just as incredible as it’s northern cousin, the remote wilderness of Patea Doubtful sound showcases the abundance of wildlife, waterfalls and untouched beauty.
RealNZ offer epic tours at competitive prices like their most popular wilderness cruise that is likely to sell out!
This 5 star, 7 hour day trip has free cancellation, coach transportation, tea and coffee on board as well as expert guides and a licensed bar on board for you to enjoy a drink whilst keeping an eye out for dolphins, albatross and sulphur crested penguins.
There’s also no need to worry if the weather turns bad, this is probably the best thing to happen to you on your wilderness cruise as tens of thousands of waterfalls come to life when the wettest part of New Zealand starts to rain.
Wine tour – Taste the local wine in central Otago
Time for a change of pace and relaxation; less than 30 minutes from downtown Queenstown is where you need to be to visit Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley for a day of wine tasting at three distinct wineries.
More than 70% of grapes grown here produce Pinot Noir variety, with a sprinkling of other wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
The best way to experience the beauty of the region and their world class wines is by joining this 4.5 hour Gourmet Otago food and wine tour.
You’ll get the opportunity to visit New Zealand’s largest underground wine cave for around $209NZD, where the chief winemaker will help pair your glass of wine to the perfect delicious dish.
Hop on/Hop off Queenstown tour bus
At the end of the day if none of what we have mentioned so far tickles your fancy and you’d prefer to just let the bus take you around town, then this tour is the one for you.
A combination of Queenstown activities, historical sites and wineries in the region are all on offer here as you’re able to hop on the bus at any point, or hop off the bus and explore any of the 18 sites you’re at, such as the AJ Hackett Bungy or the strike bowl bowling and entertainment centre.
This pass is only valid for one day at a time, so if you’d like to see everything on the list we recommend purchasing multiple passes over a few days.
Feel free to stay as long as you want at each stop, but be aware that this ticket doesn’t get your entry fees into any of the stops.
You will even get to stop off at awesome little coffee shops, if you can’t tell already we love coffee.
Alternative Queenstown attractions – Time tripper queenstown
A little shout out to the kids here or the adults reading this who enjoy a prehistoric adventure, Time tripper queenstown is an interactive underwater experience that takes viewers back 65 million years ago to when dinosaurs roamed the plains of New Zealand/Aotearoa.
A day trip to one of the best indoor activities in Queenstown takes you through an underwater animated display to the depths of Lake wakatipu and introduces you to prehistoric marine life, dinosaurs and the infamous Moa.
Explore what the landscape used to look like and how the southern alps were shaped through the years to present day.
The animated show itself runs for 14 minutes and is located at the main town pier next to Kjet Queenstown just before Queenstown gardens and departs every 30 minutes from here.
Skip the Que bar crawl
Enjoy a free shot at every bar and soak up the booze with free pizza using your Queenstown bar crawl pass.
Be escorted to 5 of the best places to party in Queenstown over the course of the night, with a free alcoholic shot at each bar and pizza throughout the night.
There’s even epic prizes to be won at teach place if you participate in the games and activities.
All you need to do is meet downstairs at The London at 9 pm with your passport or photo ID in hand and enjoy the drink discounts the night brings!
It’s a fantastic way to meet local travellers and make awesome friends from around the world – whom you never know might end up joining you on your worldly travels.
Soak in the Hot springs at Onsen Spa
Last but certainly not least on our list of the most epic adventure activities in Queenstown is Onsen Hot Pools in Arthurs Point less than 8 minutes from downtown.
The ONLY hot pools in Queenstown come with amazing sweeping views of Shotover river, and depending on the weather it may be a warm, sunny day or a cold, snowy day like the one we had!
This high quality boutique experience is derived from the traditional japanese Onsen (Hot spring) but with a kiwi twist.
Offering a range of standard soak packages as well as romantic couple sessions and massage packages there’s something for everyone at Onsen.
They are incredibly popular and sometimes have waitlists months long, so book here to reserve your spot at one of the top activities in Queenstown.
New Zealand’s scariest haunted house
Time to get terrified by live actors and impressive special effects as you take a walk through the scariest haunted house in New Zealand.
Fear Factory queenstown run this terrifying family fun experience for 20 minutes that’s also been rated in the Top 5 haunted Houses in the world!
Book your tickets right here to join the chicken list of terrified visitors. Getting here is easy as it’s directly opposite Earnslaw park next door to the gallery of fine art.
Final thoughts on the best activities in Queenstown
So that about wraps up our list of the 25 most Epic Queenstown activities that we recommend on your next visit.
We put a lot of effort into writing our epic guides to help you better plan your vacations and weekend escapes away so we always love hearing back from you to tell us what you thought of the activities?
If you use this guide for your next adventure, we’d love for you to share it with the crew down below.