Queenstown is known to be the go-to place for adventure and thrill seekers worldwide as well as captivating nature lovers with exquisite scenery and a multitude of Insta-worthy shots.
Last July, I visited Queenstown during the middle of winter where temperatures were averaging zero degrees. As a lover of cold weather, this was perfect for me. Typically during this time of the year, it is peak season so it can be expensive to get to Queenstown depending on where you live. Don’t worry, you can still travel to this amazing place on a cheap budget.
Read this article: How to Travel to New Zealand on a Cheap Budget + Things to Do
I have put together the 8 things that you must do when you visit Queenstown.
Best things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand
1. Take the gondola up to Queenstown skyline
To get the perfect aerial view of Queenstown, head up to the skyline by taking the gondola. As you elevate, take in the remarkable view of the town surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Once you have reached the top, you are greeted with the most amazing Insta-worthy shot ever!
If you want a budget-friendly way of getting up to the skyline, grab your hiking shoes because there is a good ol’ hike that will lead you to the top. If you are too tired to hike back down, simply head down via the gondola by paying a one-way fee.
2. Stroll along Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is a major lake in Queenstown, sporting magnificent views of the mountains and beyond. There are many cafes lining the shore so you can have a cup of coffee while gazing at the lake. You will even come across lots of ducks and seagulls who will beg for food. Note: once you feed them, they will look at you with those beady eyes that scream ‘Please more food!’.
The best times to stroll along Lake Wakatipu are the early morning to catch the sunrise, and the late afternoon to watch the sunset. However, all day everyday is the perfect time to wander. Bring your camera, I promise you will need it.
3. Take a hike up Queenstown Hill
There are so many hikes you can do in Queenstown. One of them is the Queenstown Hill Hike. It is an approximate 3 hour return, depending on how fast you are. The views are amazing! You are literally above the clouds (with a little cheating because the clouds in Queenstown are oddly low). Be sure to take some snacks! This was a mistake I made and I was so hungry at the top of the hill that I had to wait an hour and a half to find some food! Boy, does it drain all your energy, and nothing is worse than hiking on an empty stomach!
4. Visit the iconic Milford Sound
Take a day trip to Milford Sound to discover the magnificent waterfalls and terrains in the fjord. I recommend this amazing tour to Milford Sound by Jucy where they pick you up from your hotel/motel in the early morning. This is your chance to take amazing sunrise shots because honestly, the sky is amazing!
Although the 4 hour drive to the fjord sounds tedious, Jucy takes you on several pit-stops along the way for you to give you an opportunity to take photos and stretch your legs. You will see all kinds of landscapes: farmland (lots of sheep!), forests, mountains, lakes, snow (if you are visiting during the winter). Once at Milford Sound, board the cruise where you can enjoy a lunch while cruising around the fjord towards the Tasman Sea. Plenty of photo opportunities here! It really is an experience of a life time to head to this wonder of the world. I mean, look at these photos!
5. Eat a Fergburger
Hands down, the best burgers I have ever tried in my 23 years of life. You must must must must must (did I emphasise it enough?) try a Fergburger. They have both non-vegetarian and vegetarian options so there are no excuses in not trying a Fergburger! Of course unless you have a gluten intolerance, sorry you’re missing out! The queue may be the longest queue you have joined in your life but the service is quick and once you get a taste of the burger, you will be lining up again.
Finished your Fergburger? Head over next door for some Ferg gelato and scour the Ferg bakery for some fresh baked goodness. It is seriously Fergilicious! (excuse my lame pun…)
6. Free fudge tasting at the Remarkables Sweet Shop
Fudge lovers, you are in luck. Head over to the Remarkables Sweet Shop in town or at Queenstown Airport and sample some of their delicious handmade fudge. You can purchase a delicious block for as a little as $6 and there are so many flavours to choose from – yum!
7. Play in the snow at Cardrona Ski Field
If you are a snow sports enthusiast or simply just want to experience snow, head over to Cardrona Ski Field for a day of fun! I will admit this isn’t the most budget-friendly activity on the list. For me, it was a once in a lifetime thing. I’m not going to go to a ski field in a very long time. I am not a ski enthusiast. I tried to ski but failed miserably… Hand-foot coordination is not my thing but I do love snow but not that much to pay over $200. I’ll just head over to Europe during winter to experience the snow. Do you want to build a snowman with me for free?
8. Taste the best cookies on earth at Cookie Bar
Another Queenstown favourite is the delicious, freshly baked cookies at Cookie Bar! There are to die for! They have so many different cookie flavours as well as coffee, smoothies and hot chocolate. Best of all, you can get amazing, sweet deals at particular times of the day, such as $1 coffee from 7am-8am, or buy 1 cookie, get 1 free! Not bad for your wallet!