The borders are open and the slopes are calling! Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and it’s just a three hour flight from Sydney. Snowsports not your thing? No stress, Queenstown has heaps of adventures to suit every taste.
Queenstown truly is a place that inspires adventure and exploration. The beauty of Queenstown being the ‘Home of Adventure’ is that there’s an opportunity for everyone to get out of their comfort zones and take on whatever exciting activity entices them.
There are no limits in this place.
Although the list of adventure options is almost infinite, we’ve compiled a selection of our faves.
Hiking, Climbing And Mountaineering
Queenstown and the surrounding area is the ultimate place for hiking, climbing, and mountaineering.
Situated amongst the Southern Alps, there’s a plethora of options to explore. In fact, Queenstown is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s most incredible national parks, including Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks.
There are hiking opportunities for people of all different abilities and experience levels, from easy two hour walks to multi-day treks. Even the short walks are blessed with the most rewarding views and can be completed by almost anyone.
You can access a selection of famous and high-quality multi-day hiking trails, known as New Zealand Great Walks (notably Milford Track, Routeburn Track, and the Kepler Track) within an easy drive of Queenstown, as well as off-the-beaten-path destinations where you may be the only person on the trail.
There are also great options for guided hikes, perfect for those who like their hiking adventures with a few creature comforts like hot showers and a three course meal at the end of the day, or those who feel more at ease with a bit of extra support.
One of the local favourites is the Ben Lomond track, an 11km return day hike that serves up some of the best views Queenstown has to offer, as well as the chance to spot some rare native birdlife. The track can be accessed from three points all close to central Queenstown and is a challenging hike that’ll make you work for those epic mountain vistas.
While getting out into the mountains is possible during the colder months, it’s best to always check the weather forecast before heading off and to pack extra safety gear – things can get hairy fast up there.
In the winter, Queenstown is an iconic destination for snow activities, mostly skiing and snowboarding. As a mecca for the Southern Hemisphere, there’s a selection of trails available, suited for all skillsets, and lots of chances to learn and challenge yourself!
Blessed with countless bluebird days, each mountain is absolutely beautiful and offers world class ski facilities – just make sure you don’t get too distracted by the stunning vistas!
Queenstown’s four ski fields Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone, are each located within a 20-90 minute drive of the town centre. The four ski fields feature different terrain and experiences and cater for different skill levels, from beginner to expert.
Each ski field is also totally unique. The Remarkables is famous for its off-piste terrain, Coronet Peak is home to night ski, Cardrona Alpine Resort has the Southern Hemisphere’s most extensive terrain park facilities, while Treble Cone is the South Island’s largest ski field.
No matter which mountain you choose, there’s always a bar to finish the day at with an après ski session. With over 150 bars and restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Every mountain also has a wicked drive up so be ready for some twists and turns!
If you’re on the hunt for something a bit more challenging or niche, there are also excellent backcountry skiing and heli-skiing options available.
Mountain Biking And Cycling
Queenstown is also a spectacular destination for all forms of biking; whether it’s leisure, cycling, mountain biking, or downhill biking.
It’s home to the Queenstown Trail – one of New Zealand’s most popular Great Rides – which is well suited for all levels of riders, from families to avid cyclists.
There are over 130km of tracks to explore, with a bunch of places to discover while cycling, including lakes, heritage sites, and vineyards. You can even hire an e-bike to whizz around on.
The perfect combo of outdoors and luxury can be found on the Queenstown River Wine Trail. It’s a leisurely way to take in the scenery and a great way to feel like you’ve truly earned that cheeky glass of vino.
For the more adventurous bikers, there’s an endless amount of opportunities for thrilling and challenging rides on world-famous trails. The options are epic, with a selection of trails that are free to ride and have been built by the highly regarded Queenstown Mountain Bike Club.
The region offers routes for riders of all abilities and styles. Whatever your preference, be that gravity-fed trails, backcountry, technical tracks, jump parks, or flow trails, Queenstown has got it.
Take your biking to the next level on one of Queenstown’s three lift-accessed mountain bike parks. The Queenstown Bike Park is located on Bob’s Peak in Queenstown’s town centre, but if you’re willing to drive, there are some wicked options during summer at Coronet Peak and Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Or for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, try heli-biking! Take your pick and get on ya bike!
From the water to the sky, the choices are almost endless, but these are our faves;
From the air – skydiving, paragliding, hot air ballooning, hangliding, ziplining
On the water – river boarding, white water rafting, jetboat, canyoning, funyaks
‘On land’ – bungy jumps (at different heights too!), canyon swings, luging, 4WD and quad bike safaris, mountain carting
And best of all, most of these activities are offered year round – which means no excuses!
Watersports on Lake Whakatipu
As it’s situated on the shores of Lake Whakatipu, Queenstown has a fantastic selection of watersports and lake activities on offer, which are easily accessible from town
As long as you can handle the water being a little fresh, you can either go jet boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, parasailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, waterskiing or even fliteboarding.
After something you’ve never even heard of before? Why not try the Hydro Attack, a semi-submersible watercraft that dives and leaps into the water – an experience you’ll never forget!
For more family-oriented or laid-back activities, there’s a boat cruise on the historic TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm. It’s a great way to see Queenstown from the other side of the lake and indulge in an awesome feed while you’re there.
Yes, the lake can be a bit chilly for some, but in summer when the blue skies are out, it’s wonderfully refreshing for a dip. And for those who are adverse to the cold, most of these activities happen on top of the water, so everyone can get out on that lake!
Choose Your Own Adventure
The list is never-ending and you’d be hard-pressed to find an activity or adventure here that doesn’t suit – there’s an opportunity for all ages, skill levels, and adrenaline highs.
Simply enjoying a beer at one of the many restaurants with mountain and lake views will have you feeling like an adventure pro.
Look out onto the mountains and dream of all the experiences you can have and challenges you can accomplish – and then actually get out and do them.