How to Tackle Queenstown as a First Timer
Landscapes go big in outdoorsy Queenstown, where travelers find year-round thrills in mountains, lakes, and activities of all kinds. Where do you start exploring the adventure capital of New Zealand? These are our top tips for first-time visitors.
Cruise Lake Wakatipu
Lapping the Queenstown shoreline with bright blue water, Lake Wakatipu is among southern New Zealand’s most scenic places. No matter if you explore via historic steamship, ferry, small boat, or leisurely cruise, the reward of getting out on the water is the amazing views of the surrounding peaks.
Taste Otago Valley Wine
One of New Zealand’s top wine-growing areas is a short distance away, so don’t miss out on Otago’s award-winning vintages. Visit one of Queenstown’s wine bars, or get it from the source on a guided wine tour of the Otago Valley.
Ride the Queenstown Skyline Gondola
Enjoy sweeping views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range from a gondola that rises high above downtown Queenstown. At the top, treat yourself to a special meal at the summit restaurant or head back down the mountain on a high-speed luge track.
Try an Extreme Sport
Jet boats, bungee jumps, skydiving—Queenstown is famous for high-adrenaline activities in picturesque natural settings. Dare to choose one of these adventurous favorites, and earn bragging rights with a selfie to prove it happened.
Visit Milford Sound
If you only add one day trip to your time in Queenstown, make it a trip to Milford Sound, part of Fiordland National Park. Options for experiencing Milford Sound include hiking tours, kayaking trips, and scenic cruises, with transport from Queenstown by bus, plane, or helicopter.
Visit Lord of the Rings Film Locations
From Skippers Canyon to Kawarau Gorge, some of Queenstown’s most beautiful places have appeared on screen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can spot a few of them while hiking or driving in the surrounding countryside, but fans should book a themed tour to see the hidden spots.