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Queenstown Travel Guide

Find out more about Queenstown with our handy travel guide.

Located in New Zealand’s South Island in the region of Otago, the city of Queenstown is nestled between stunning mountain ranges and Lake Wakatipu. Having long been New Zealand’s go-to destination for thrill-seekers, Queenstown offers up the best in outdoor activities all year round. Find out more about New Zealand’s adventure capital, including top things to do, how to get around, and budgeting for your holiday.

Planning on visiting other cities in New Zealand? Check out our New Zealand Travel Guide for more holiday inspiration.

Top Queenstown Attractions

Queenstown is renowned for adventure sports and outdoor activities. So it comes as no surprise that the majority of attractions on offer will get your blood pumping.

Dive into Activities on Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's third largest lake, and is below sea-level at a depth of 379 metres. This crystal clear lake is surrounded by scenic mountains, and boasts incredibly clean (but freezing cold!) water. There’s plenty to do on Lake Wakatipu all year round, including paddle boarding, parasailing, and KJet jet boat rides. For a more relaxing experience, jump on a cruise and soak up the stunning atmosphere.

Explore Milford Sound

Formed by the erosion of glaciers, Milford Sound is located within Fiordland National Park, and despite its remote location is the only fjord in New Zealand accessible by land. Known for awe-inspiring mountain peaks, coves, waterfalls, and forest, the best way to explore is by cruise. Located at a 10 hour return trip from Queenstown by car, you may want to consider staying a few nights!

Cycle Through Wineries

With over 200 vineyards in close proximity to Queenstown, taking a break from adrenaline pumping activities is easy. Known for its Pinot Noir, the Otago Wine Region is located just a 40 minute car ride from downtown Queenstown, and offers a huge range of cellar doors, restaurants, and accommodation options. Opt for a shuttle bus tour, self-drive, or hire a bicycle and cycle the Arrow River Bridges Trail.



Experience World-Class Ski Fields

If you find yourself in Queenstown during the ski season, you’re in luck. The town transforms into a winter wonderland, with 4 world-class ski resorts located within driving distance from downtown. Spend your days shredding powder at Queenstown's top ski resorts, with plenty of options for everyone.

Ride the Skyline Gondola

Soak up Queenstown’s views from all angles with a ride on the iconic Skyline Gondola. As the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll travel 450 metres to the top of Bob’s Peak, with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, and Coronet Peak. Enjoy a meal at the top, and spend the day hiking, cycling, or paragliding.



Transportation in Queenstown - Getting Around

Travelling By Air to Queenstown

Queenstown is easily accessible with both a domestic and an International Airport, serviced by daily flights from locations within New Zealand, as well as major Australian airports. The airport is located a convenient 15 minute drive out of town. Getting into Queenstown is easy, with taxis, rental cars, buses and shuttles available.

Travelling By Car in Queenstown

Exploring Queenstown and its surrounding regions is easily done by car, with roads in New Zealand generally in great condition. Car rental options are available at the airport and in town for both pick up and drop off, with major car hire companies, including Thrifty and Hertz. Campervans also offer a great alternative way to explore the area. If you plan on driving to the ski fields, don’t forget to let your car hire company know beforehand.

Using Local Transport in Queenstown

If hiring a car isn’t your thing, getting out and about using Queenstown’s public transport systems is also an option. For those planning on staying a while, it’s worth opting for a Queenstown GoCard .This pre-paid smart card allows you to make trips on public buses for only $2 NZD a ride, and can be topped up at numerous locations around town.

As well as local busses, the Queenstown Ferry Network and taxi services make getting around easy.

Getting to the Ski Fields in Queenstown

If you’re visiting during ski season and need transport to the slopes, or need to get to a remote mountain hiking track during warmer months, there are a number of shuttle services in the city. These can be pre-booked prior to arrival.

Weather in Queenstown - Best Time to Visit

Summer in Queenstown

Summer generally runs from December through to February. With temperatures ranging from 20 - 30 degrees, you can expect long, sunny days and late sunsets. Due to the warmer temperatures, Summer in Queenstown is a great time for camping, trekking, and water sports. Lake Wakatipu is your go-to, with parasailing, kayaking, and fishing all on offer on the lake itself and the surrounding rivers.

Autumn in Queenstown

March through to May is autumn in Queenstown, with temperatures ranging from around 5°C to 25°C. This period is usually quieter than others in terms of tourist numbers, which means you’ll be able to enjoy the splendid hues of red and gold autumn shades that cover the surrounding hills without the crowds.

Winter in Queenstown

Winter sees Queenstown come to life with visitors from around the globe looking to experience its world-class ski resorts. Winter is from June through August, however July through to September are the best months to enjoy the snow. Spend your days hitting the slopes, and soaking up the après ski scene. Pack for frosty temperatures and keep in mind that prices may increase during this season.

Spring in Queenstown

Starting in September through to November, spring sees the last of the winter snow become greenery in Queenstown, with some skiing still possible in September. Catch the last of the snow season, and enjoy walking the newly opened hiking trails. Spring is also a great time to check out the region’s vineyards, where you can enjoy winery tours and sample the local Pinot Noir.

New Zealand Currency and Budgeting for Queenstown

The official currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar. The NZD is made up of 100 cents to each dollar, and comes in both notes and coin denominations. Work out how many New Zealand Dollars you will need to budget on your holiday

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Sources:

https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/new-zealand-travel-tips/queenstown

https://www.newzealand.com/int/article/queenstown-on-a-budget

https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/plan/seasons-and-weather