Queenstown: The Gem of the South Island - Travel Guide by Wanderlist Travel
The South Island of New Zealand is arguably one of the most picturesque places in the world and Queenstown is no different. Despite being one of the most popular stops on the tourist trail, Queenstown retains its small-town charm and beauty. A visit here is a must and will vary greatly depending on the time of year you go.
- Even though Queenstown tops most people’s lists of ‘where to go in New Zealand’, Urban Queenstown actually only has a stable population of just over 14,000 people!
- The Kawarau Bridge Bungy jump just outside of Queenstown was the first commercial bungy jump and now there are hundreds worldwide.
- Queenstown offers over 200 different adventure activities.
Things to do
Great for thrill-seekers, Queenstown has loads of original activities to get your blood pumping. Even if you don’t fancy jumping off a bridge from a great height you’ll be sure to find something in Queenstown that will make you want to stay:
- Luging is a unique activity that is famous in New Zealand and is fun for all ages. The gravity-based toboggan runs are located in Rotarua and Queenstown and allow you to slide down the mountainside taking in the epic views as you go.
- Often referred to as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is the place get your heart racing. Whether you opt for the Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing or a NZONE skydive, your memories, pictures and videos of this exhilarating accomplishment will last a lifetime.
- Shotover Jet is another activity to get your adrenaline going. Power your way through the white waters of the Shotover River at speeds of up to 85kph getting splashed and sprayed along the way.
- If you visit Queenstown during New Zealand’s ski season (June to October) you should definitely head up into the Southern Alps to experience the powder. You can rent ski and snowboarding equipment in town and be enjoying the slopes within an hour!
Where to shop
Although most backpackers won’t want to spend their time perusing the shops when in Queenstown, for those that do this little town has a good range of malls and shops.
- Mall Street in the centre of Queenstown offers travellers an open-air shopping experience and is a great place to wander the shops, stopping for coffee and cake as you go. With everything from outdoor clothing and yoga kit, to boutiques and souvenir shops you can easily while away a few hours here.
- Peppered throughout the city are a number of second-hand/vintage shops such as Happiness House and Walk In Wardrobe. These are great for grabbing a bargain which will probably become your favourite accessory or item of clothing you own while on the road!
Where to eat and drink
There are so many great places to eat and drink in this small town that you’ll wish you could stay longer to try them all!
- Obviously, no visit to Queenstown would be complete without a world-famous Fergburger. Open from 8am to 5am every day (yes, really!), there is no excuse for missing out on this Queenstown speciality! With everything from pork belly, lamb and beef, to tofu, falafel, cod and gluten-free buns there really is something for everyone. Get stuck in to one of their sumptuous burgers and don’t worry about the mayo or aioli that is all over your face – it happens to the best of us!
- Taco Medic
- For a delicious light snack on the go, you can’t beat Taco Medic. Perched on the edge of town it is not the most central location, but the prize you’ll get for finding it is a well thought out menu with tasty classics. Every taco is naturally gluten free and there are vegan and vegetarian options.
- Tucked away upstairs Barup is a little hard to find but if you ask any local they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. When you get there, the renowned ‘money shots’ are a must-try. A delightful mix of Irish cream and banana with a cinnamon dollar sign on top I reckon you’ll be hard pushed to just have one!
- The World Bar
- A classic for backpackers, The World Bar is a central haunt which serves up great food and drinks all day. Check out the events and DJs they have lined up during your stay and order a teapot for a real Instagram-worthy cocktail. Their organic burgers aren’t half bad either!
- Book to stay longer than you think you’ll need. Most people think they will get everything done in Queenstown in just a few days. In reality it’s likely you’ll fall in love with the city and want to stay longer even if just to have another teapot cocktail or Fergburger.
- A public bus runs from Queenstown Airport to the city every 15 minutes and costs around $12pp one way. The bus also goes from the airport straight to Wanaka (another place that’s well worth a visit).
- The Queenstown Gardens are the home of Frisbee Golf so is a great place to enjoy some free outdoor fun!
Whatever you decide to do in Queenstown you’re sure to be charmed by the locals, impressed by the cuisine, thrilled by the activities and will most definitely want to return!