Queenstown is that city I look for on every international country trip I go on. It’s relaxing, quaint, and not a big city. Big cities really all look and feel the same after awhile (it can get old) but smaller getaway, picturesque towns are always the sweetest place to unwind.
Located on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu and set against the stellar Southern Alps, you’ve got the best landscape anyone can ask for. Popular for weddings due to all the natural views, this town is filled with adventurous activities, delicious eats, and plenty of pretty hikes.
Anything in italics is on my to-do list.
What to Do | What to Eat | Where to Party | Where to Stay | Map
What to Do
1. Skyline Gondola, Restaurant & Luge
Take the gondola and make sure you get the buffet lunch or dinner. The views are unreal and incredible. Then you should buy luging tickets. For the buffet, it’s a lot of food and variety and it’s delicious. While on the gondola, make sure you look out for the views and down to see the sheep on the mountain hills.
2. Queenstown Gardens
A nice 30min walk around the park takes you to a lot of nice views – plus there is a swing.
3. Queenstown Hill Time Walk
Just walk up the hill or do the intense hike. This hike takes ~1.5-2.5 hours and it is steep but the views are top-notch. If you don’t feel like doing the intense hike, just getting to the starting point of the hill, walking from Central town to the start of the walk gives you pretty stunning views as well. We did the latter thinking that was the hike. It wasn’t.
4. Milford Sound
Kayaking and cruise in the crystal clear waters of Milford Sound. There are tons of different tour options with and without food options and kayak options. The one we picked was a cruise and kayak combined with a picnic lunch included. The tour was great as the views were incredible. The cruise was very cold and windy so dress warmly and add waterproof layers. We bought bug spray at the dock but some people still got bit.
5. Nevis Swing
The world’s largest swing is like a quick drop and then a fun swing ride. Overall, it was incredibly worth it and scary. 175 NZD per person for tandem.
6. Bungee Jumps
What to Eat
This is the burger that everyone eats in Queenstown. It has a cult following and the burgers are a must-eat. It’s pretty good – it’s not the best burger I’ve had. At anytime of day, there is a line but don’t worry – the line moves. Just wait in line and get it.
2. Atlas Beer Café
Perfect eatery with great beers and beautiful views by the lakeside, Atlas Beer cafe is a popular local favorite hidden away at the back of Steamer Wharf. Their menu is pretty good and tasty as well.
3. Ivy and Lola
Brunch lovers unite! This adorable restaurant is well-decorated and has a nice menu with delicious eats.
We got some really delicious croissant egg sandwiches with avocado here. They serve gelato, baked goodies, and acai bowls. The different beef and lamb pies are just okay.
5. Cookie Muncher Cookie Bar
Oh my goodness, these cookies are so delicious! They give you freshly baked cookies and milk. You can’t just go once. I got the blueberry hazelnut crumble cookie and it was heaven. These cranberry white chocolate cookie is incredible too. Eat all the cookies!
6. The Cow Restaurant
This pizza joint is open late. The pizza is okay. The rustic, outdoorsy cabin decor inside the restaurant is very nice.
7. Botswana Butchery
African-influenced cuisine, this restaurant has a strong flavor focus with a particular emphasis on prime cuts of meat.
8. Vudu Cafe
Just a local, small cafe serving fresh, local, and organic product where possible. It’s original, well-crafted food and coffee are delicious and look beautiful on Instagram.
9. Bespoke Kitchen
Just a short walk up a hill, this kitchen is something worth waiting for if there happens to be a line. Fresh, delicious, beautiful plates of tasty delights.
10. The Boatshed Cafe
Adorable cafe outside the city center, this boatshed cafe has serene views with appetizing dishes.
Where to Party
A pizza joint that turns into a dance party at night.
2. Searle Lane Bar & Rotisserie
A restaurant that turns into a dance party at night.
A themed bar is home to a bucking bronco, huge stuffed animals, table games, saddle bar stools, and liter handles of beer.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Queenstown. You can easily take a taxi to the hotel from the airport. It was in a perfect, prime location and close to everything. The hotel itself is very pristine and clean. Service was good and there is a gym. Wi-fi strength was reasonable. It has stunning views of the city – the featured photos for this post is take from the hotel.
JoYo Guide to Queenstown map is here.
JoYo New Zealand Guide