Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand; the centre for freefall, a Mecca for water sports, a snow junkie’s paradise & a good night out every day of the week! Backpackers arrive nervous, eager and excited to push themselves to their very limits, and leave with a sense of accomplishment and a taste of adventure – topped with a week long hang over! Name any extreme activity or platform to hurl yourself off, and chances are it's one of the things to do in Queenstown.
Top 15 Things to Do in Queenstown
1. Bungy Jump
No visit to New Zealand is complete without throwing yourself off a ledge and Queenstown has 3 AJ Hackett Bungy sites to choose from. Kawarau Bridge stands at 43 metres and is the first commercial bungy site in the world. The Ledge Bungy can be found at the top of the Skyline situated 400m above Queenstown – the views are stunning! The rope is 47 metres long and if you are keen to try a back flip – the ledge bungy allows freestyle action: twist, flip, spin – choice is yours! The Nevis (we’ve all heard of it), is the Mecca of all bungy jumps – a 134 metre drop into the canyon below. You actually have to take a cable car to the jump pod... don’t forget to ask about the Nevis Swing. Check out our guide to Bungy Jumping in New Zealand here.
2. Snowboarding & Skiing
Each winter Queenstown becomes flooded with snow junkies. Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Treble Cone & Cardrona Ski Fields are all within driving distance from Queenstown. Base Backpackers in Queenstown can organise packages to your liking: Lift Passes, Transport & Gear Hire. The hostel has a drying room as well as a rack for your skis / boards. Check out our guide to Ski Season in Queenstown and Wanaka .
3. Skyline Gondola & Luge
Queenstown looks somewhat ‘Instagrammed.’ The best way to make the most of the photo opportunities is to take a Gondola ride to the top of Skyline Queenstown. (If you are on a budget you can walk to the top from town). At the top of Bob’s Peak you will find 2 Luge tracks... this is so much fun!
Abseil, Climb, Slide, Jump, Swim and Zip Line your way through New Zealand native bush. There are a number of canyoning options to choose from depending on the location and whether you would prefer a half or full day. If you're looking for seriously fun Queenstown activities then you can do a number of them by going canyoning!
5. Mountain Biking
Queenstown is becoming a popular mountain biking destination. Skyline Queenstown offer cable cars with specialised bike racks that will give you access to 14 downhill bike tracks. If you venture a little further out of town Rabbits Ridge Bike Resort provide access to mountain, downhill and cross country trails for all rider levels. Queenstown shuttles can be organised to take you and your bike to the resort. Queenstown Bike Tours offer tours with a difference in the Queenstown Lakes area, such as vineyard tours, gold mining lessons and jet boat packages. Base Queenstown have a bike rack suitable for enthusiasts.
6. Ziptrek Ecotours
This experience will most certainly take you back to your childhood. Zip Line your way through the tree tops from tree house to tree house whilst gaining stunning views of Queenstown. The Ziptrek Ecotours guides really make the trip with their passion and informative approach to the Queenstown environment. The last of the ziplines is 300m long!
There's no doubt that Queenstown has some of the world's best scenery and what better way to really experience it than from above? Imagine freefalling from 15000ft above Queenstown, for 60 entire seconds at 200km/hour whilst taking in the stunning views of Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Park - the ultimate adrenalin rush! There are two award winning Skydive companies in Queenstown that offer Skydiving: NZone Skydive & Skydive Paradise.
8. Canyon Swing
The Shotover Canyon Swing is a must! The world’s highest cliff jump will have you swinging at a length of 200m and 109 metres above the canyon below. What’s so great about this swing? There are 70+ swing styles to choose from, including the chair, the bin & the slide.
9. Serious Fun River Surfing
The historic Kawarau River is home to Roaring Meg: 6km of Grade 2/3+ White Water Rapids that will have you river surfing, riding whirl pools, duck diving & jumping off rock faces. This half day experience is so much fun! This experience is a must if you love any kind of watersport, have a taste for bodyboarding or white water rafting, or just eager to try something a little bit different topped with an adrenalin rush!
10. Jet Boat
There are a number of Jet Boat operators that will have you racing and 360 degree spinning through the scenic lakes and rivers of Queenstown. Shotover Jet operate a 25 minute jet ride on the Shotover River that will whizz through narrow canyons at high speeds. Thunder Jet operate on Kawarau River. Do not be fooled by this little orange boat – it will have you screaming.
11. Milford Sound
This is an absolute must do when visiting Queenstown! Milford Sound is a full day tour that will take you on a boat cruise through the towering mountains and waterfalls of Milford Sound.
Stirling Falls Milford Sound. Credit Southern Discoveries TNZ
12. Hang Gliding
Ever wanted to know what it was like to fly like a bird? Hang Gliding is a must! Coronet Peak makes a fantastic launch pad with breath taking views. Paragliding is also an option for those who have yet to experience a skydive or those that feel the need to be strapped in.
13. White Water Rafting
Queenstown’s Shotover and Kawarua Rivers are great locations to try (or re try) White Water Rafting. Kawarua River has Grade 2 to 3 rapids that are just right for beginners. It is also home to New Zealand’s longest commercially rafted rapid. Shotover River is a little more extreme, Grade 3 to 5. Look out for the 170 metre long tunnel! Queenstown Rafting offer half day tours to both locations.
There are 3 hikes that are accessible from Queenstown that I recommend. Queenstown Hill will take an hour or two and will provide you with fantastic views of Queenstown. The Gondola Walk is a another tick of the old list. Once you reach the Skyline do not miss out on the Luge. If you are keen for a full day hike with rewarding photographic opportunities from the summit – the Ben Lomond walk is fantastic. Allow 4 – 6 hours depending on your fitness.
15. Cheap Thrills
On a budget? There are loads of adventure activities in Queenstown that will leave you some coin for a Fergburger! Dark Ride is a 7D experience that will allow you to experience motion rollercoaster rides and an interactive Zombie shooting experience. Fear Factory is a must! This walk through a Haunted House is interactive and terrifying – I won’t spoil the secret! Minus 5 Ice Bar is pretty self explanatory – have a cocktail from an ice glass, have a boogie and enjoy the ice like experience. You can also hire a kayak from Base Backpackers from $20.
I hope we've given you some ideas of what to do in Queenstown, but if you still need some inspiration then why not check out '18 Reasons Why Queenstown Is The Best Place On Earth'. If you need somewhere to stay, check out Base Queenstown.