Adventure | Family | Food and Wine 13 October 2016

11 Things To Do In Queenstown This Summer

Few places in the world can claim to be a brilliant destination in both the coldest depths of winter or on the hottest summer’s day. Regardless of the season, Queenstown – a.k.a. the adventure capital of the world – draws lovers of walking, hiking and adrenaline-fueled fun. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand’s South Island, at this gorgeous location you’ll find more than 200 activities and adventures to choose from year-round.  

But it’s not all high speed thrills and leaps of faith, Queenstown has some equally world-renowned natural attractions to be explored on foot – and a great local wine scene. Visit during summer to avoid hiking through the snow and be treated to incredible views, swimming pools, wildlife and (of course) amazing photo opps. Let’s dive into the 11 best things to do in Queenstown during the summer months.

Shoot through a canyon

Hold on for the ride of a lifetime as you shoot through magnificent canyons on the Shotover Jet. Following the Shotover River, this exhilarating ride is a favourite that gets the blood pumping. One of Queenstown's original adventure activities, the jet has been offering crazy thrills since 1965.

Go kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Wakatipu

There’s nothing like being out on the water. If the Shotover Jet is too much of an adrenaline rush, maybe manual paddling is more your speed. Enjoy picturesque views of the Remarkable as you cruise about the alpine lake on a sunny day. Paddle Queenstown will rent SUP boards, kayaks and even aqua bikes.

Picturesque view of Lake Wakatipu Queenstown New Zealand

Climb the Ben Lomond Summit

If you’re a keen or enthusiastic hiker, the Ben Lomond walk is a must-do. Easily accessible from Queenstown, put this hike on the list for when you first arrive in town. The breathtaking panoramic views of Queenstown, the lake and mountains will help you get your bearings, and set the standard for what is sure to be an awe-inspiring trip. Choose from the four-hour hike through native beech forests to Ben Lomond Saddle, or for regular hikers the six-to-eight-hour hike to Ben Lomond Summit is worth every step of the steep incline. Choose a clear day and you’ll even be treated to views of Mount Earnslaw / Pikirakatahi and Aspiring / Tititea.

Sea of clouds view at the summit of Ben Lomond Queenstown

Picnic by the lake

With stunning scenery everywhere you turn, you won’t want to stay indoors if the weather is fine. Skip eating out at a restaurant and instead grab takeaway burgers from the world famous Fergburger, or drop into Erik’s for a serve of fish ‘n’ chips and venture down to the lake. Here you’ll find grass to spread out on and luxuriate under a tree or in the sunshine while people watching.

Kids running to the lake of Queenstown with stunning view of mountains

Ride up to the mountain top

The Skyline Gondola will carry you up some 450m above Queenstown, giving you breathtaking views over Lake Wakatipu, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and beyond. Up here you can lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails, enjoy a meal with a view, stargaze by night or rocket down the mountain with a thrilling luge ride.

Taste New Zealand’s top wines

There are more than 200 vineyards dotted around Queenstown that produce top quality, cool climate wines that have won over sommeliers and wine lovers across the globe. Create a self-drive tour between cellar doors, or organise a driver for the day and learn about the terroir as you visit incredible Otago wineries.

Friends enjoying wine and cheese at Gibbston Valley Queenstown

Reach Roy’s Peak

Roy’s Peak is one of the most popular day trips from Queenstown and for good reason, the summit reaches 1,578 metres above sea level and offers 360-degree views. In fact, there are views all the way to the summit as you hike around the eastern side of the mountain, looking out over Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring. The walk opens around November 10 (due to lambing season) and is quite steep, so it can take anywhere from three-to-six hours to complete, depending on your fitness level.

Explore Arrowtown

As cute as the name suggests, Arrowtown lies a 20-minute drive outside Queenstown and was at the heart of the 1862 gold rush. The charming cottages, shops and churches have been restored, making for a cute afternoon wander immersed in history. You can even try gold panning in the Arrow River.

Street of Arrowtown with the charming view cottages, shops, and churches

Relax in steaming hot pools

Queenstown’s summer days can be super warm, but the alpine climate makes a dip in the steamy Onsen Hot Pools still enjoyable. Sink into your tub overlooking the Shotover River canyon. You control the temperature of the pool and can enjoy complimentary refreshments and add on an indulgent massage.

Venture to Middle Earth

What trip to New Zealand would be complete without a little Lord of the Rings tourism? Glenorchy, a charming town on the north shore of Lake Wakatipu, is where plenty of scenes were filmed. It’s a 40-minute drive from Queenstown, but worth it for the stunning vistas.

Experience the "Finest Walk in the World"


Traversing the heart of the South Island’s wild fjord country, the Milford Track has long been described as ‘the finest walk in the world’. Take up this five-day hiking challenge and follow the footsteps of the pioneers through the Fiordland National Park to end at the majestic Milford Sound, experiencing the fiordland at its most spectacular. We recommend a guided tour led by experts who will not only keep you safe, but guide you through the rich history of the track and point out all the local wildlife along the way. During summer you not only get gorgeous summer days but also cascading waterfalls treating you to some incredible photos.

Ready to explore Queenstown this summer? We have the perfect Queenstown hotels for you to stay.