Queenstown city is like the resort paradise of New Zealand. Even though you come here at any time of the year, visitors can still admire its unparalleled beauty with very fresh air. It’s famous for its Lake Wakatipu, the golden town of Clyde and Arrowtown, the majestic Remarkables Mountains, Treble Cone ski resort or the most extreme adventure games and activities… The city of Queenstown will bring visitors emotions that are difficult to describe in words. So, what to do and how to plan a budget perfect trip to Queenstown for the first-time? Let’s check out our Queenstown New Zealand travel blog (Queenstown blog, Queenstown New Zealand blog) with the fullest Queenstown travel guide (Queenstown guide) from how to get, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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The quiet, peaceful and tranquil city of Queenstown on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. When it is sunny, the lake turn blue, blending with the color of summer sky. Visitors can start enjoying the wonderful romantic atmosphere here right from the plane. Looking down from above, mountains and hills are interspersed with blue lakes. It is said that Queenstown is one of the ideal options for a honeymoon. Coming here, you can freely walk along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, reading books on wooden benches along the lake, or reserve a romantic dinner at the restaurants in Queenstown Bay.
Queenstown New Zealand travel blog: Overview of Queenstown
Queenstown is an extremely charming tourist city in the country of New Zealand. The city is located right next to the famous Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the majestic Alps. Therefore, the air here is always fresh and cool. Queenstown is not only famous for nature’s favor, but also for exciting outdoor activities and games. I am very passionate about extreme sports such as paragliding and bungee jumping. So Queenstown is even more attractive to me. I visited this place in March, when the morning temperature dropped to 13 degrees Celsius. However, the cold was very pleasant due to the moisture rising from the clear sea water.
Before, Queenstown was just a small, remote town and little known. Over the years of development, this place has gradually develop and become one of the vibrant, bustling destinations of New Zealand. According to statistics, each year more than 2 million tourists come to Queestown to discover interesting things and its charming beauty.
Queenstown is a very beautiful and peaceful land. Queenstown tourism activities are associated with wild nature. So, during the trip I always feel comfortable and full of energy. If you have an opportunity to set foot in this island nation, remember to visit Queenstown to fully experience the beauty of nature, cuisine and people here.
Queenstown New Zealand blog: When is the best time to visit Queenstown?
Queenstown is a city bearing the typical climate of New Zealand with a cool and pleasant weather. Summer time from December to March, with temperatures sometimes reaching 30 degrees Celsius but the average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. While winter starts from June to August, with temperatures not too harsh either. In general, you can come here at any time of the year.
The best time to visit Queenstown is in the spring or summer. However, the time most tourists choose is the time of the ski season with the winter festival taking place at the end of June. Also at this time is also the time of many activities taking place throughout the town and ski resorts for 10 days.
If you come to Queenstown in the early summer, you will be able to participate in the annual Summer Daze festival, which starts from December 31st and lasts throughout January; Lake Hayes A&P Show to honor Queensland’s agricultural heritage and International Pinot Noir Celebration for wine lovers.
Queenstown travel guide: How to get to Queenstown?
Queenstown is New Zealand’s most beautiful and famous tourist city. To get to Queenstown from Vietnam, you can fly to Auckland and take another flight to Queenstown (flight time about 2 hours), or you can depart from Sydney or Melbourne of Australia, this route will take 3 hours, and there are many cheap airlines to choose from such as: Jetstar, Virgin or Qatar Air.
Queenstown Airport (NZQN) information
- 8km from the city center
- Travel time: 15 minutes
- Taxi fees are around NZ$ 35
- SuperShuttle express bus ticket from NZ$ 20
- Connectabus buses run with a frequency of 15 minutes/trip. One way: NZ$ 8 (adults), NZ$ 5 (children). Journey takes 25 minutes.
Queenstown guide: Getting around
Getting around the central districts is easy, with the cheap and convenient Connectabus bus service help you to exploring the large areas. Buses run from early morning until late night, running through all major hotels and guesthouses with a frequency of 20 minutes/trip. Or you can rent a bike to enjoy the beautiful scenery around the lake and the hinterland.
Transportation in Queenstown is quite diverse, from cars, buses to the train system. You can experience self-driving here by rent a car. They have a car rental service by day and can be haggled. Traffic laws here are not too strict. This type is quite popular because visitors can freely manage their travel time as well as itinerary. Here, you can choose from reputable car rental companies such as ACE, Jucy, Go Rentals or Apex. To rent an 8-seat car for a day, the price is about NZD 150 ( ~ USD 110). This price included GPS and car insurance for the trip.
If you don’t want rent a car, do not worry because in Queenstown it is quite easy to travel to its attractions. If you want to play bungy jumping, skiing, or other games, there will be a car to pick you up to ticket booths.
I chose to travel by train for safety and avoid getting lost. The train is very clean and comfortable. The train runs through many mountains, coastlines and volcanoes, very suitable for sightseeing.
Queenstown New Zealand travel blog: Where to go and what to do?
If you are still wondering where to go when coming to Queenstown for the first time, perhaps Lake Wakapitu is the first place that you should think of. This is the most beautiful lake and attracts the most tourists in New Zealand. Any visitor who comes here must be amazed by its majestic and poetic natural scenery. Here there are hundreds of years old trees and giant rocks stacked together to create a spectacular scene. Coming to Lake Wakatipu, you will be immersed in the fresh natural space, enjoy the most truly relaxing moments.
Walter Peak High Country Farm and learn about the life of the people of Queenstown
A very interesting place in Queentown you should not miss is the sheep farm at Walter Peak. This place was established in 1860, located about 13km from the city center. Here, you will see the lovely sheep, watch the steps to cut the wool and enjoy some delicious cups of coffee.
In addition to explore the Queenstown tourist attractions, take time to learn about the lives of the people here. The best place for you to go there is the Walter Peak farm. This place is the stop that the Maori have chosen to reside. This farm is isolated and located on the other side of the lake.
Address: Walter Peak, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Gibbston Valley Winery
Besides sheep farming, the wine industry is also very developed in New Zealand. In Queenstown there is a very famous valley that you should visit – Gibbston, located in the Otego region filled with vast vineyards and old wineries. Coming here, visitors not only can visit the vast acres of vineyards but also learn about the production process and enjoy best wine glasses.
Head to Gibbston to explore New Zealand’s largest wine cellar. Gibbston’s dry and cold climate has created great world-famous fine wines. If you are a fan of good wine, do not miss the wine valley here. Visitors will taste Pinot Noir red wine, Chardonnay white wine and many other famous regional wines. Follow an expert touring the vineyard to learn about how to grow grapes so that each variety will bring a unique taste. Adventure enthusiasts can try bungee jumping from a nearby bridge or hiking and cycling along the trails in the nearby forest.
The village of gold diggers
When mentioning Arrowtown, people immediately think of an ancient village known as the “village of the gold-diggers” in Queenstown. This is a place that caters to 19th century gold seekers and it boasts numerous of artworks, craft products, restaurants, bars, cinemas. It’s just 20 minutes drive from Queenstown.
Getting around the city and playing Shotover Jet (Jet Boat)
If you visiting Queenstown for the first time, you should take a tour of Queenstown and join Shotover Jet ride. This is a thrilling underwater ride, to join this activity, players will be wearing protective gear and sitting on a boat, then the boat will ride at 85km/h through the narrow Shotover Canyons, creating excitement for players. This activity is one of the most engaging rides in New Zealand. Having come Queenstown, visitors should try this ride, it will bring you great moments.
Along the streets of Queenstown there are quite a few bands playing freely. They often sing and play musical instruments. This type of performance is almost identical to the small groups that often sing on the streets of Hanoi every weekend. The street bands often choose cool coastal streets and perform impromptu performances.
Every night, if I don’t have a specific outing plan, I often buy some snacks and watch them sing. Feeling very peaceful and happy. You can give them a little money if you want. Typically here, visitor will donate NZ$ 5 – 7 for each band.
Cable car ride is an activity attracting a lot of tourists to participate in Queenstown. A cable car ride takes you to the top of Mount Bob or onto the Skyline zone. You will be able to see the whole majestic natural picture of Lake Wakatipu, the whole miniature city of Queenstown is really impressive. But because of the high, the weather is also much colder. I recommend bringing thick clothes or heat stickers to reduce heat loss.
Take a cruise tour on a hundred year old steamboat
TSS Earnslaw hundred-year-old steamboat will take you on Lake Wakatipu for 90 minutes with a fare of NZ$ 55. Admiring the lake, especially at sunset, is an unforgettable experience in my trip. The guide on the boat told me local stories and about the history of the lake. They are very friendly and open. After this trip, I also learned more about the beautiful city of Queenstown.
Experience high speed
If you know how to skateboard, do not miss the zigzag routes for skateboard lovers here. The adult fare is NZ$39 and NZ$28 for children. I don’t know how to skateboard, so I had to skip this activity. In return, in Queenstown there is bungee jumping or skydiving from the top of a 400m high hill. Before participating, they will ask about visitors’ health and psychological fears. The prices to play bungy jumping are NZ$ 95 and NZ$ 195 if you want the photos and video files they recorded. The prices are also vary depending the altitudes, you can refer to here.
If you choose to travel to Queenstown in winter, do not miss an great destination like Coronet Peak. Because this is the best destination for those who want to participate in night skiing. However, you need to keep watching its schedules which will be held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
To get here, you will follow the always-lit trail. The feeling of conquering the trail leading here is very interesting. You are like being lost in the middle of a vast sea of snow. After the skiing is complete, you can drop your soul when choose the warm cafes here to sit and enjoy a drink.
Playing indoor games at Game Over
One of the largest entertainment and game centers in the town of Queenstown is Game Over. Here, you will have countless of fun games to take part in. Typical examples are video games, racing games or laser shooting games. Therefore, you can spend a day to coming here to participate and experience. Tickets to participate in the games here are not too expensive.
Address: 14 Red Oaks Drive, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Walking around and experience nightlife of Queenstown
Nightlife in Queenstown quite bustling with vibrant bars and pub throughout the streets. Usually these bars will be open until 4am. Remember to bring your passport when you want to go to the bar or drink alcohol / beer, because they only sell to those over 25 years old. I can’t drink so I ordered mocktail “Bloody Mary”, cheap and delicious.
In particular, street artists often perform here. Therefore, when strolling at night, you will enjoy a lot of special performances such as circus performance, live music and magic show.
Queenstown New Zealand blog: What and where to eat?
Famous New Zealand dishes are available in Queenstown city. Most of these dishes are quite easy to eat and not expensive. I didn’t bring much dry food because I know for sure that the food here is suite for my taste. Here are the famous dishes I have tried.
This fruit is sold lots in supermarkets in Vietnam, but the reason I absolutely have to go to the market in Queenstown to buy kiwifruit is because these kiwifruits are directly picked from the tree. They don’t undergo a long transport so the flavor will be more original. New Zealand Kiwifruit with a hairy skin, fragrant, slightly soft, green or yellow flesh and delicious sweet and sour taste.
This is a specialty of New Zealand. Grilled lamb is sold at both budget and luxury restaurants in Queenstown. Lamb is marinated with spices and herbs, then grilled. You should try grilled medium-rare steak. The meat will be both fragrant and juicy, and it is worth a try. Grilled lamb steak will be served with grilled vegetables.
Fish & Chips
Although Fish & Chips is a typical British dish but it is very popular in New Zealand. This dish is best enjoyed while it’s still hot. The fresh fish is cleaned, battered and deep fried, served with french fries. Fish & Chips served with tomato sauce and fews of slices of lemon. I really like the feeling of sitting outside, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the crispy fish. This is a dish you definitely must-try when coming to Queenstown.
In addition to Subway which is quite cheap (about $5 / meal), other restaurants or eateries are much higher. However, you can go to an Asian supermarket in Queenstown to buy food, a cup of instant noodles there costs about $1. In addition, there is also a restaurant that is quite popular with tourists and is loved by locals, and the price is also very affordable, this shop mainly sells breakfast. Your suggestion for ordering here is the “All day breakfast” which costs $10, which you can use for both breakfast and lunch.
Queenstown’s two most famous restaurants are Fergburger and Devil Burger. These are 2 restaurants serving famous burgers. Therefore, you should visit these restaurants to have a chance to explore the rich local cuisine of Qeenstown.
In Queenstown there is a very famous bakery, but anytime I pass through at around 4 pm, I also see the number of people standing in line to buy cakes that are 50 meters long. Their cakes are so delicious, its name FERGBAKER.
Queenstown New Zealand travel blog: What to buy as a gift when visiting Queenstown?
I choose to buy products made from wool to make gifts for my beloved ones. There are plenty of wool souvenirs such as towels, shirts, gloves or sheep dolls. These kinds of gifts are crafted by local people, so they bear the identity of this land. In addition, the famous candies and snacks in New Zealand such as ANZAC Biscuits or Pavlova cake are also very suitable as gifts.
Queenstown blog: Hotels in Queenstown
I choose to stay at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (Agoda.com or Booking.com). This hotel is a 10-minute drive from Queenstown Airport and a 5-minute walk from central of Queenstown. This is a complex of 4-star hotel and resort with views of Lake Wakatipu, the top of Coronet Mountain, Remarkables and Cardrona mountains. My room does not have a balcony, so the price will be a bit lower than the rooms with balconies and lake views.
In addition to convenient facilities such as a restaurant, Cocktail Bar, spa or swimming pool, I choose this hotel because they make the most of the outdoor space for visitors to feel the majestic nature all around. When visiting Queenstown, you should also choose a little airy accommodation to enjoy the weather and the wonderful landscape here.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- QT Queenstown, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $157/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- The Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments & Lakeside Residences, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $140/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $119/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $119/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Queenstown you can refer to
- Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Luge Ride with Optional Buffet Lunch or Dinner
- NZONE Skydive Experience in Queenstown
- Queenstown Quad Bike Adventure
- Milford Sound Sunriser Day Tour from Queenstown
- Queenstown Green & Gold Tour
- Queenstown Off Road Quad Bike Explore Tour
- Mountain Biking Day Pass
- Go Orange-Jet Boat Experience in Queenstown