Scenic mountain ranges and lakeside views… what more could you ask for!? My first stop in New Zealand was the incredibly popular town of Queenstown, located in the South Island on Lake Wakatipu. With so much to see and do in the area it can be a little overwhelming at first, but if you’re looking for my favourite spots to see, sleep and eat… here is your complete quick guide to Queenstown!
Introducing Queenstown New Zealand
Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, you couldn’t find a more scenic location for a town if you tried. The entire area is full of lakes and valleys to explore, so be sure to rent a car for your time here as there is so much to see and do nearby.
Once you arrive at the airport, head to a rental car desk to hire a car or if you’re visiting in high season (especially ski season), be sure to book in advance. For my time in Queenstown I booked a car from Go Rentals, as they were the cheapest rate I could find (a little more than $200 for four days).
The airport is located roughly a 15-minute drive from town. Once you arrive in town be sure to drop your bags, pack some snacks, and head straight back on the road to explore the region.
What to do in Queenstown
In Queenstown proper there are plenty of activities to keep you busy – this is the adventure capital of New Zealand after all! Below you’ll find plenty of inspiration to fuel your trip:
Bungy Jumping – if you’re after an adrenaline rush then you will find a handful of commercial bungy jumps on offer in the area.
Cruising – for something a little more low key, there are also a range of companies offering lake cruises from Queenstown.
Cycling – if you’re more of an active traveller, the area is very well suited to cycling and you can make your way over to Arrowtown for a great day trip to a town rich in history.
Hiking – any time of year you can enjoy the many hiking trails around the area. One of my favourite activities was just to stop by a trail I spotted from the road and head off on an unplanned adventure.
Skiing – should you visit in winter, you’ll be bombarded with all the skiiers making their way to the town! Make the most of the opportunity to hit the slopes with Queenstown as your base.
Stay: Azur Lodge
For my couple of days in the town itself, I checked in to the gorgeous apartment-style accommodation on offer at Azur Lodge. The lodge is a small property with only a handful of rooms, making it a great choice for couples looking to have some time to themselves. With a location on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, from your rooms you can enjoy unparalleled views.
The lodge was inclusive of a fully cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, and hors-d’oeuvres in the evenings. During this stay it was all of the little touches that counted – like a complimentary mini-bar re-stocked daily and the ability to order from any restaurant in town and have it delivered, free of charge, right to the comfort of your room.
Short Day Trips from New Zealand
While there are many great landmarks on the South Island, many of these landmarks are a huge undertaking and involve plenty of driving if basing yourself in Queenstown. As someone who doesn’t like to spend too much time in a vehicle and more time outdoors, I chose to take only small day trips of an hour or two and stay close by. If you wish to see more of the immediate area, below are the short day trips I would recommend!
Wanaka – One of my favourite days was making the popular day trip to Wanaka, just a one-hour drive away. The lake here is absolutely gorgeous – be sure to find the famous “Wanaka Lake Tree!”
Arrowtown – Just a 15 minute drive from Queenstown is a small and intriguing town by the name of Arrowtown. This is a scenic little historic town that is great to wander around for an hour or so, making it the perfect midday trip for lunch!
Glenorchy – The day trip to Glenorchy is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Along the drive you can enjoy a scenic look at the lake (so be prepared to make many photo stops!!!)
Where to Eat in Queenstown
For a small town Queenstown is absolutely jam-packed with great restaurants and cheap eats to enjoy! Below are some highlights from my four-nights here:
Fergburger – Undeniably the most popular eatery in town that ALWAYS has a line, here you will find cheap and delicious burgers with vegetarian options available!
Eichardt’s Bar – In the winter time you will find mulled wine here – an absolute treat!
Bespoke Kitchen – Probably the best coffee in town – at least of those I tried!
Air New Zealand fly directly from Sydney to Queenstown daily. Thanks to Azur Lodge for welcoming me to experience the hotel during my stay in Queenstown!