5 Minute Read
“Should I visit Queenstown?” Yes! Without hesitation, visit Queenstown.
I think we’ve enjoyed visiting Queenstown probably more than any other place in New Zealand. Many people have told us how beautiful the area is and how bountiful the outdoor activities here are, but we needed to see it to believe it. And believe us, if you get the chance to visit Queenstown, you won’t regret it.
Arriving Queenstown is quite an experience with all the mountains surrounding you, but right after we landed we grabbed our car, got groceries, and settled into our airbnb. We met our hosts, had a little bit to eat, and then visited the waterfront for a nice walk and an ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates. The area is small but hip and full of transient folks. Nice vibe to the area.
We decided to take our trip out to Milford Sound right after we got settled in town because it was our best chance for sunny weather. The drive out there is all of 4 hours and the cruise we booked was 2, so we knew we had a long day in front of us.
If you’re in this part of the world, a cruise down Milford Sound is a must do. If you’ve never seen fjords before you’ll be stunned for 2 straight hours. Gorgeous experience. We got tickets through bookme.co.nz, which is sort of like Groupon. Check this website to get some good discount tickets for tons of New Zealand tours and attractions.
On our way back we stopped at as many scenic spots as we could and didn’t return home until late in the evening. Well worth it.
Hayley reminded me we were riding horses today! We did a horseback riding trip in the hills surrounding Queenstown and took some memorable photos. Different ranches offer Lord of the Rings-themed horseback riding tours.
Later in the day we explored the beautiful village Arrowtown. Picturesque and perfect for wine tasting and a relaxing Saturday.
We started the day by visiting the Farmer’s Market and the Queenstown CBD market. Both offered some neat things but weren’t extraordinary. Lunch at Taco Medic (great name) and then off for a walk in the Botanic Garden. It has a killer disc golf course and beautiful sights. You must check it out.
After the garden, we took off for Moke Lake. Halfway there I realized we were not going to make it, as we only had 4km of gas left in the car. I scrambled to get the car back to town and we just barely made it back with 1km worth of fuel. Very close call!
We finally made it to Moke Lake (plenty to do) and enjoyed the sights before coming home to work and relax.
We visited Glenorchy, a quaint town on the lake with spectacular views and plenty of stores and cafes to enjoy. This looked like a popular destination for folks living in caravans to pull over and enjoy the slow life.
Today we drove through Crown Range Road on our way to Wanaka. Upon arrival, we relaxed on the sandy beach and toured the small town. This is another popular destination for nomadic folks to set up shop and enjoy the scenery.
We were planning spending the day by going out to Fox Glacier and then coming back to Queenstown but the total round trip can take up to 14 hours, including climbing the glacier, so we decided to stay in and have a WORK DAY!
Relaxed on Sunshine Bay and took a dip in the water, which was about 50 degrees F. Beautiful view but the shore was pretty rocky, making lounging kind of difficult.
We started the day by visiting the original location of bungy jumping and watching people fling themselves off a 140ft bridge.
After that, we visited Clyde (old website but cool town), a village southeast of Queenstown, and explored some of their shops. We had the best homemade gelato we’ve ever had in New Zealand at Yum Yum.
In the evening we drove up one of the Remarkable trails to find a little spot to watch the sunset, ending our time in Queenstown with a bang!
Don’t Have 9 Days to Spare?
Are you wondering, “Cool, but should I visit Queenstown if I’m on a shorter timeline?” Yes! Here are a few options to make your visit jam-packed with adventure.
3 Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Visit Milford Sound (go to www.bookme.co.nz for discounted tickets)
Day 2 – Drive the Crown Range to Wanaka to enjoy the beach. On the way back, swing into Arrowtown for an ice cream.
Day 3 – In the morning, visit downtown and consider waiting in line at Ferg Berger. In the afternoon, jet boat ride on the Shotover or go bungy jumping.
5 Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Visit Milford Sound (go to www.bookme.co.nz for discounted tickets)
Day 2 – Drive the Crown Range to Wanaka to enjoy the beach. On the way back, swing into Arrowtown for an ice cream and/or wine.
Day 3 – In the morning, visit downtown and consider waiting in line at Ferg Berger and riding the gondola. In the afternoon, jet boat ride on the Shotover or go bungy jumping (go to www.bookme.co.nz for discounted tickets).
Day 5 – Walk the botanic garden and consider playing a round of disc golf.
We kept the budget under control for this leg of our NZ adventures. All in all, we came in at $445.92 under budget. This ended up being 81% of our budget. As you can see from some of the activities listed above, it wouldn’t take too much to bust your budget in Queenstown. We kept our spending in check pretty good and we still weighed in at nearly $2000. If we both had decided to bungy jump (Hayley: Yeah right!) we would have easily maxed out our budget.
Where we splurged: We rented a car and filled it up with plenty of gasoline/petrol. We drove all over the area, so transportation was a biggie.
Where we saved: Food. We should have gone out to a restaurant at least once – my fault on that one. Also, we didn’t partake in any extreme sports. Hayley is not a fan and I don’t want to do them just to do them. I’d rather do them with friends or family as an experience.
Got extra room in your budget? Here are some suggestions:
You can spend as much money as you want in Queenstown. Here are a couple of examples of what adventures per person cost here.
- Shotover Jet – $120
- Ziplining – $140
- Wine Tour – $190
- Bungy Jumping – $205
- Skydiving – $350
- Helicopter Glacier Landing – $425
To get the best deal you can, visit www.bookme.co.nz and booking in advance, if possible.
- Affordability – Queenstown is very touristy, probably the most so out of any New Zealand city. Groceries and accommodations are priced generally the same as most other places, but activities are spendy. You can see what it would cost for a jam-packed day of extreme adventure.
- Cleanliness – We didn’t notice any trash and everything in the downtown area was nice and clean. Since most people who visit Queenstown are young, transient people, there are plenty of hitchhikers. More than average amount of birds down by the bay.
- Food/Drink Options – Loads and loads of places to eat and drink. Modern, burgers, Thai and Asian fare, sweets, and plenty more to choose from.
- Friendliness – The transient lifestyle lent itself to having plenty of friendly, free-spirited people. Lots of tourists, though, and they are usually a mixed bag.
- Things to Do – Queenstown isn’t called the Adventure Capital of the World for no reason. Whether you want to fly in a helicopter or jump out of an airplane, Queenstown has you covered in spades. You’re only limited by your budget. Hikes, small towns, and gardens abound for those looking to not spend as much money.
Ranking 5 out of 5 Mitts
Queenstown is a must see. If you go nowhere else in New Zealand, you should visit Queenstown. Don’t even think about asking, Should I visit Queenstown – that’s not a logical question. It’s so concentrated with activities, excitement, and natural beauty you’ll never be wondering what to do. It’s really a fantastic, unique place – everything you see about New Zealand on TV or the movies is embedded in Queenstown.
Have you been able to visit Queenstown? We want to hear about your trip. What was your favorite part? What should we have seen? Leave us a comment!
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