Set amid the towering Southern Alps, Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital—some locals claim it’s the adventure capital of the world. Travelers come here to sky dive, ski, bungee jump, and cruise the Shotover and Dart rivers on high-speed jet boats. If high adrenaline activities are not for you, there are other options available including: The nearby Otago Valley which is a favorite for wine tasting, and Queenstown is a jumping-off point for boat and helicopter trips to Milford Sound and Fiordlands National Park. Guided tours help travelers fit in all their bucket-list adventures, and cut down time by coordinating transport and activities, many of which take place in far-flung locations.
The steepest gondola in the Southern Hemisphere climbs to sweeping views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu. This tour is a great way for travelers to get their bearings in the dramatic landscape. Booking the Skyline Gondola with other Queenstown activities is a cost-effective option, and some popular experiences—such as stargazing—must be secured 24 hours in advance.
Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant
This combo pairs a trip on the Skyline Gondola with sought-after reservations for lunch or dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer beautiful views.
Skyline Stargazing and Gondola in Queenstown
Powerful telescopes and a “star guide” give a fascinating glimpse of the night sky above Queenstown; jackets are provided so travelers can bundle up and keep warm.
Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Luge
For an exciting descent from the Queenstown Skyline Gondola, travelers can choose between two luge courses: a beginner-friendly one and a more challenging option.
The twists and turns of the Shotover River will give the client a view of the water in many startling colors, from deep blue to frothing white. It’s a scene that’s well worth a trip, but the river’s most famous offerings are high-speed jet-boat cruises that spin over the water. For more traditional thrills, opt for a whitewater rafting trip that lets travelers paddle along.
Queenstown Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
This option combines the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers, offering clients more time on the water than many other tour options. The Kawarau’s known for tight curves, while the Shotover has more dramatic colors.
Queenstown Shotover River Whitewater Rafting
A paddling trip is an active way to explore the beautiful river, and a post-paddle sauna is a welcome chance to soothe tired muscles.
An alpine playground that’s a quick trip from Queenstown, The Remarkables are famed for drawing in skiers and snowboarders during the Southern Hemisphere winter. They also offer year-round sightseeing that’s most accessible on guided tours. During visits to farms tucked into foothills of the mountain range, travelers can meet some of New Zealand’s merino sheep. While on a boat cruise of Lake Wakatipu travelers can enjoy beautiful views of the peaks from the water.
Remarkables Mountain Range Helicopter Flight from Queenstown
This short helicopter flight features a chance to land high in the mountain peaks, a remote destination that would otherwise require an arduous overland trip.
Lake Wakatipu Cruise and Mt. Nicholas High Country 4WD Tour
A family-friendly way to take in views of The Remarkables, this 4WD tour also includes a Lake Wakatipu catamaran cruise, a sheep farm visit, and morning or afternoon tea.
Lake Wakatipu Catamaran Cruise from Queenstown
Checking out The Remarkables from the water means unobstructed views. Clients who take this catamaran cruise will get plenty of opportunities for great photos.
Backcountry Snowshoeing Tour from Queenstown
This snowshoe tour offers a beginner-friendly way to get out in the snow, and the small-group format means that even first-time snowshoers will get plenty of help from the guide.
Fiordland and Milford Sound
Deep fjords stretch from the mountains to the Tasman Sea in one of the South Island’s most rugged and beautiful landscapes. Tours departing from Queenstown are available by coach and plane and both offer an amazing experience to take in the scenary. Overland tours offer up-close views of the mountains and lakes, while flights can take travelers into unspoiled wilderness that’s not visible from the road. At Milford Sound visitors should make sure to watch for fur seals and penguins on a scenic cruise to the end of the fjord.
Full-Day Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park Tour Including Milford Sound Cruise and BBQ Lunch from Queenstown
A popular option that includes round-trip coach transportation from Queenstown, this tour coordinates overland travel and a cruise to fit the entire trip into a long day of exploring.
Milford Sound Day Trip from Queenstown by Coach, Cruise, and Flight
This tour starts with a coach trip that cruises Milford Sound and returns in a fixed-wing plane. This option allows clients to combine the advantages of tours by air and land.
Milford Sound Walk and Cruise Including Scenic Flights from Queenstown
Hiking the entire Milford Sound Track must be arranged months in advance, but this tour gets travelers on the gorgeous trail with time left over for a sightseeing cruise.
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Things to Know
Things to Bring
Between the ocean, mountains, and lake, Queenstown weather can be changeable even in the finest months, so bring layers—including a waterproof jacket at any time of year.
Tipping is not an obligation in New Zealand, but many locals will acknowledge excellent service or friendly restaurant staff with a 10% gratuity.
Generally, batering is a not appropriate. The price you see is the price you pay and there is rarely room for negotiation on prices.
When to Visit
The Southern Hemisphere summer—roughly December through February—is ideal for warm-weather exploring, but June, July, and August blanket the Remarkables range in snow.
While many travelers rent cars to visit New Zealand, the wide availability of ground transfers means it’s easy to reach the city without your own vehicle.
If travelers do drive, they’ll be confronted with many winding roads, given the mountainous terrain. If your clients are avid bikers, let them konw that cyclists are not allowed on motorways and hearing helmets is mandatory.
What the Locals Know
Check out the freshest produce from area farms by heading to the Saturday farmers market. The locally made crafts make unique souvenirs that you won’t find in stores.
Kiwis are friendly!
Kiwis (AKA New Zealanders) are very friendly and frequently talk with strangers. Their friendliness may seem off-putting, but just know that the local people are just friendly!