Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand and is located in the most beautiful part of New Zealand. This Queenstown itinerary is perfect for a short stay. It includes a bit of food, hiking and adventure.
About this Queenstown Itinerary
Queenstown is small and everything can be walked from the centre. You’ll miss out on some great spots if you stay in Queenstown. This Queenstown itinerary will take you to Arrowtown and Gibbston Valley on the third day. You can take a bus to get you there, or use taxis, Ubers, or book a day trip with shuttle transportation.
The itinerary can be used at any time, but it is especially useful if you are heading to Queenstown during summer. You might consider adding a few extra days to visit the Cardrona ski areas if you are visiting during winter.
What to Pack for Queenstown
Queenstown is the southernmost town in the world, so it can be expected cold weather even in summer. The average temperature drops below 0degC in winter, and there is often light snow. New Zealand’s unpredictable weather is another reason to bring lots of layers.
Queenstown is known as the capital of adventure and the fashion scene here is extremely outdoorsy. There will be lots of puffer jackets and sneakers for the lake walks. Merino wool tops are also common. This itinerary will involve a lot of outdoor activities, so make sure to pack layers for the bike rides and hikes.
Skyline, Ben Lomond and Luge, Queenstown Gardens
It is the best way to feel Queenstown once you arrive. Start your day in Queenstown by taking a Skyline Gondola ride. The Gondola will take you uphill 450m to the Skyline Centre, where you can view Lake Wakatipu as well as The Remarkables Mountains. You have the option to grab food at the cafe or stock up at the Jelly Bean Factory, or simply take a seat and admire the views.
Ben Lomond Track
You can also climb up the mountainside to reach Ben Lomond in summer. The trek takes approximately 7 hours and offers unbeatable views from its summit. Although the track is easy, you will not reach the summit until mid-summer because of the snow covering the trail. It’s worth continuing to the Skyline Centre, even if you don’t make it all the way. This will allow you to see more of the area and get away from the crowds.
Paragliding and Luge
You can choose to paraglide or go luge down the mountainside. You drive the luge down the mountainside at high speed on a zigzagging track. It’s similar to a go-kart. In case you aren’t comfortable jumping and tunnels, there’s an intermediate track as well as a beginner’s track. After the ride is over, you can either hop on the gondola again or go back down the hill towards Queenstown.
You can spend the afternoon walking along the lakeshore. Take a stroll through Queenstown Botanic Gardens towards Frankton. Or, you can climb up to Queenstown Hill Time Walk. Here you will find exhibits about the area’s past. The Queenstown Hill Time Walk will take you approximately 2 1/2 hours.
Botswana Butchery is a great place to eat dinner. It’s one of New Zealand’s top restaurants and showcases some of the best local produce, including lamb and venison. Pair the meat-heavy dishes with Central Otago pinot Noir. You’ll have a chance to taste more on day 3.
Bungy Jump, Jet Boat and Lake Cruise. Ferg Burger
You can now discover why Queenstown has been called the New Zealand adventure capital by booking a bungy jump or swing. Queenstown is home to AJ Hackett who was the first commercial bungy jumper in the world. You can still take the leap at the original Kawarau Bridge location. They now have two additional bungy jumping sites. Both are taller than the original Kawarau jump, at 47m (Ledge Jump), and 134m respectively (Nevis Jump). Continue reading 8 Great Locations to Bunjy Jump in New Zealand
Morning Nevis Bunjy & Swing
You can also try the Nevis Swing or the human catapult if you have already attempted bungy jumping. The ticket includes transportation to the site as well as a t-shirt that you can use to prove your bravery. Both were included in the combo ticket. For prices and booking information, visit AJ Hacket
Lunch Vudu Larder
After an adrenaline-filled day, return to Queenstown for a relaxing lunch at Vudu Larder. Vudu Larder, Queenstown’s best cafe, is located right on the lakefront. It serves excellent breakfasts and lunches with a healthy focus. There are many vegetarian and vegan options. Pancakes with lemon and coconut are my favorite. Yonder and Bespoke Kitchen are also worth a visit if you have the time.
You can also try your hand at a jetboat if you have the nerve. You can choose between KJet which departs from Lake Wakatipu, and features many spins and tricks while you ride up Arrow River. Or Shotover Jet, which begins slightly outside of town and speeds through narrow canyons of Shotover River.
The steamboat cruise on TSS Earnslaw, which takes you across Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy and the sounds, is a more tranquil option. It is a relaxing way to explore one of the most beautiful areas of New Zealand, with its lush native bush and high-altitude snow-capped mountains. Book the sunset cruise with wine or cheese for a romantic experience.
This 1.5-hour Queenstown scenic cruise takes you to Lake Wakatipu, where you’ll see the Remarkables and Bob’s Cove. Earnslaw can be viewed from the comfort of Queenstown’s Spirit of Queenstown.
Enjoy drinks at Perky’s Boat Bar (a quirky boat-bar anchored at Lakefront) or Lodge Wine Bar, a more refined option that is oddly located at the front of a men’s clothes store. You must try Ferg’s famous burgers in New Zealand. The queues can get long, but the food is worth it. Sweet Bambi’s venison burger is my favorite, with boysenberry and cheese. There are also vegetarian options. Add a scoop of Mrs Ferg’s Gelateria ice cream to top it all.
Arrowtown, Arrow River Trail and Gibbston Valley Wineries, Millbrook
You should have a good understanding of Queenstown’s town centre by day 3. It’s now time to travel towards Arrowtown. You can take the Arthurs Point bus, which is a short ride from Stanley Street in central Queenstown.
It’s a good idea to get up early so that you can go to Arrowtown at Provisions for brunch. This cafe is located down the quiet side street and serves delicious baked goods, as well as the best Kiwi big breakfasts.
Arrowtown’s autumn colors are brightest when the trees along the riverbank and main streets glow a fiery orange. However, the historic mining town is charming at all times of the year. The main street could look like it is straight from Disneyland, as many buildings retain their Gold Rush-era facades. For a taste of homemade fudge and to grab a bag full of old-fashioned candy from all over the globe, make sure you stop by The Remarkables Sweet Shop.
If you are looking for retail therapy, Arrowtown has many boutique shops. For foodies, the Gibbston Valley Cheese Store and Patagonia Chocolates are both located right by the riverfront. These local artisans are only available in Queenstown or Arrowtown.
You can also take the time to stroll down to the riverbanks to see the old Gold Miner’s Cottages while you’re visiting Arrowtown. Although they are very basic and small, they offer a glimpse into the lives of the early European and Chinese settlers to this area.
Arrow River Trail
You can rent bikes or ebikes from the station and then head out on the Arrow River Trail to the Gibbston Valley. You can enjoy the river trail on its own, passing through gorges, farms and mountains, and you can even see the bungy jumpers at Kawarau Bridge.
Visit a Vineyard
You’ll find the majority of Queenstown’s wineries in the Gibbston Valley. It can be accessed from Arrowtown by car or bike. Nearly all of them are open for tastings. You can grab a map at the bike rental shop and make your way to any winery that interests you. The pinot noir is the most common wine variety, but there are many other grapes available, including Gamays, pinot blanches and red blends. Peregrine, Mount Edward are my favourite Gibbston Valley wineries. Many wineries offer either platters of food or full-service bistro meals. Amisfield Winery is located close to Arrowtown and has an award-winning restaurant.