On a business trip to the capital city of Wellington, I took advantage of two weekends to fly down to the South Island to visit the beautiful Queenstown. These are truly wonderful summer days, when I get to wandering around the paradise of Queenstown with its deep blue Lake Wakatipu, clear Lake Hayes, the raging Kawarau River, ancient Arrowtown and its sloped hillside vineyards. So, what to do in 48 hours in Queenstown? Let’s check it out our suggested Queenstown itinerary 2 days on how to spend 2 days in Queenstown perfectly for first-times as follows!
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Queenstown: The heaven on earth
Queenstown is a resort town located on the South Island of New Zealand. New Zealand has two main islands: the North Island with the capital Wellington, the bustling city of Auckland, the South Island has many spectacular mountains and stunning lakes and rivers. Queenstown is nestled on the blue lake Wakatipu, surrounded by majestic mountains. Visitors often come here to rest, admire the scenery, tasting wine and participate in extreme sports.
Queenstown four seasons are all paradise. In spring the valleys are green but the snow is still cover the high peaks, all fun activities and discoveries are possible. Summer is long, fresh sunny days, you will have more time to sightseeing or excursions. Autumn comes, Queenstown is covered with yellow leaves, the water of rivers and lakes turns dark green, most suitable for photography activities. The winter is covered with white snow, people come to this town to ski and enjoy delicious meals by the flickering fire.
I came to Queenstown on the weekends of summer, when the temperature ranges from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, suitable for the condition of Vietnamese people. From Wellington, I booked an Air New Zealand flight, which took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to Queenstown airport.
Queenstown itinerary 2 days: With 2 days in Queenstown, what places can you explore?
Two days is too short to visit all of Queenstown, but I also try to arrange my schedule to enjoy the vacation to the fullest.
As soon as I landed at Queenstown Airport, I felt so lucky: the air was pure, the sky was clear, and the sun was shining brightly. I took the airport shuttle bus to the Black Sheep Backpackers (Agoda, Booking) on Frankton street. The 20-minute ride along the shores of the azure lake increased my eagerness for this land.
Lake Wakatipu (#queenstown itinerary 2 days)
After checking in and finishing my lunch, I immediately started my Queenstown exploration. Right in front of the motel that I rented was a field filled with lupine flowers. This colorful and long-stemmed flower blooms along the shores of New Zealand’s lakes in the summer. Along the road leading to the shore of Lake Wakatipu are the idyllic brick or wooden houses of the town close together, each with a small and pretty yard.
The full name of Lake Wakatipu in the vernacular Maori is Wakatipu wai-māori. With a length of 80km, Wakatipu is the longest freshwater lake in New Zealand. The lake is filled with water from the Kawarau River, the bottom of the lake is sometimes deeper than sea level. The scenery of Lake Wakatipu appeared in several scenes of the famous movie The Lord of the Rings.
Skyline Gondola (#2 days in queenstown)
Leaving the cool lakeside, I walked to Skyline Queenstown to take the Gondola cable car up to Bob’s Peak at an altitude of 480m for a panoramic view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. The fare for a one-way cable car ride was NZ$46 (NZD). You can book Gondola tickets and other activities such as sledding, cycling, stargazing, bungy jumping, paragliding on the Skyline Queenstown website.
Note: Skyline Queenstown will be closed from April 23 to July 1, 2023 for renovations.
From the viewpoint or restaurant window on Bob’s peak, a beautiful panorama of Queenstown comes into view: blue sky and lake water, dark green patches of forest trees and gray mountains. The colorful wings of paragliders stand out in the sky.
Queenstown Bay Beach
After taking the cable car back down to town, I stopped by the iSite Visitor Information office on the corner of Camp and Shotover to book a group tour of Queenstown’s highlights tomorrow morning. This tourist information center has many leaflets about Queenstown, sightseeing tours, places to eat, restaurants… You can also exchange money here. Leaving Visitor Information, I walked out to Queenstown Bay Beach to wait for sunset. Near Bay Beach stands a statue of William Gilbert Rees, the first European explorer to set foot in Queenstown in 1860.
I bought some snacks and drinks, sat on the lakeside and watched the seabirds fly up and down. Around me are couples, happy families enjoying the quiet summer afternoon. In this season, the sun in Queenstown sets very late, my watch hands was just near 10 o’clock when the sun has just set.
Lake Hydes and the Kawarau River
Waking up after a night of sleeping in a 6-person dorm room, I followed the walkway through the park to the meeting point, where the bus picked me up at 9:30am to begin a tour of some of Queenstown’s highlights. All tours, destinations, events, and places to eat can be found on Queenstown’s tourism website.
The driver was driving while explaining about Queenstown to visitors. Leaving the center of town, I began to see the green of the trees, the meadows and the low hills. The second day here was also sunny and beautiful, the air was extremely cool.
Our first stop was Lake Hayes, a small lake in the Lake Wakatipu basin. The smooth surface of Lake Hayes reflects the lush greenery of summer. Around the lake, there are trails for locals and tourists to jog or ride bicycles.
Next, we went to Kawarau Bridge to see people bungy jumping. Crossing the narrow stretch of the Kawarau River, AJ Hackett Bungy Bridge is the world’s first bungy jumping spot. The car stops long enough to give you time to take a jump off the cliff, if there’s room. Every 5 minutes a jump is made. For NZD 200 to 220, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime by jumping from 43 meters above the bridge into the azure waters of the Kawarau River. For photos and videos, an additional NZD 65 is required. If you just want to go to Kawarau Bridge for bungy jumping without visiting other places, you can book the jump and shuttle bus in advance on AJ Hackett’s website.
Leaving the Kawarau River, the car took us to the green grape fields in the Gibbston valley. It has New Zealand’s largest wine cellar and the region’s oldest vineyards. We were introduced to the vineyard, toured the cellar and wine tasting, visited the restaurant, the cheese shop, etc. If you have plenty of time here, you can walk around the area by car bicycle.
Near noon, we got to Arrowtown and had lunch there. This is a town of long historical value with houses built from the time when Europeans and Chinese came to dig for gold. Arrowtown has many cafes, small shops selling sweets or souvenirs, restaurants, local museums, libraries, churches… If you come here in the fall, visitors will admire the animals. golden-leaf street, is the charming scene typical of Arrowtown. Every year, the Arrowtown Autumn Festival is usually held in April. In 2023, the 37th festival will take place from April 20 to April 25. After walking through a few streets, I chose a small restaurant, enjoying my lunch in the shade while looking at the green courtyard in front of me.
Edith Cavell Bridge (#48 hours in queenstown)
Our trip came to an end after more than 3 hours of travel. On our way back to the center of town, we passed the Edith Cavell Bridge which also spans the Kararau River. From the bridge, visitors can see the Shotover Jet, adventurous canoes that take players through the white canyons and rapids of the Shotover River at speeds over 80km/h. The Shotover River, when flowing through Queenstown, has very narrow passages with fast-flowing water, sometimes the river creates vast white sand dunes.
The bus took us back to the town center in the early afternoon. The trip duration is not much, so visitors cannot fully explore each place. However, thanks to that, I was able to see quite a few famous places of Queenstown.
Boat trip on Lake Wakatipu
I walked to the harbor again and bought a ticket to board the boat for a walk on Lake Wakatipu. The Million Dollar Cruise departs from the harbor at 2pm and takes you past famous landmarks on a 90-minute cruise. When you first leave Queenstown Bay, you will see Queenstown Gardens and central Queenstown. Next, you will see a beautiful golf course located on the Kelvin Heights peninsula. Then the boat takes you to a calm water, where are located lakeside villas costing millions of dollars. You can also pass the Kawarau Dam, where the Kawarau River empties into Lake Wakatipu, and observe the Remarkables mountain range from up close.
After ending of the cruise, I wandered the harbor again before heading along the Harbor View Walk to return to the hostel under the last rays of the day. This lakeside walk is one of my most beautiful walks in Queenstown, with temperate woodland on one side, and calm Lake Wakatipu on the other. Sometimes people put a bench for you to rest and relax.
I returned to the hostel and slept another night, the next morning took the bus to the airport back to Wellington, ending a wonderful excursion in Queenstown.
Among the many beautiful stops in New Zealand, I found myself making the best choice I could. To me, Queenstown is like a paradise, where no words can describe the beauty of nature. Tourist services here are very good, every detail is focused on preserving the inherent natural scenery and making visitors always feel convenient and comfortable. If you have the opportunity to come to New Zealand, you should give Queenstown a chance.
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