Queenstown is located on the south island of New Zealand. Everyone seems to like Queenstown. Really, everyone. It’s just a phenomenal city. It’s surrounded by mountains, has an amazing lake, tiny little pedestrian streets, and is the focal point for dozens of adventure activities. There is such a great vibe and energy in this city. Visitors usually end up spending more time here than originally intended. I planned for three days and ended up staying over a week but I’d get stuck there anytime.
Hostel prices – Hostel dorms cost between $20-25 USD per night while private rooms begin at $60 USD.
Budget hotel prices – Hotel rooms around Queenstown begin at $70 USD per night.
Average cost of food – A typical restaurant meal is about $15 USD or more. If you choose to buy your groceries, plan to spend about $40-60 USD per week. You can find sandwiches around for $5 USD and fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King costs between $6-8 USD. There’s a lot of budget food options in the city so you’ll find plenty of ways to save, especially during lunch.
Transportation costs – Queenstown is really small and you can walk anywhere easily. There’s no need to take the bus around the city.
Money Saving Tips
Walk – Queenstown has its own set of natural scenic beauty which can be had for free in a walk around town. But, if you prefer tour, you can purchase a guided bus tour for $45 USD.
Buy fresh fruit – During the summer, cheap produce can be found at roadside stands as farmers bring in fruit and vegetables from the nearby towns.
Top Things to See and Do
Sail the lake – A beautiful lake surrounding the town offers wonderful sailing, boating, swimming, and other activities. Just don’t go in the lake for too long – it’s very, very cold.
Eat at Fernburger – A Queenstown tradition, this burger place is considered the best in New Zealand. They have amazing fries and gigantic, delicious burgers. You’ll have to brave a long line to get one but leaving without eating one is a crime. There’s a vegan burger too for those of you who don’t eat meat.
Ride the Shotover Jet – This ultrafast speedboat whips around the local rivers at neck-breaking speed. Sometimes the water is shallow you think you are going to crash. It’s quite the rush!
Take a helicopter flight – Queenstown is set against a backdrop of The Remarkables mountains and a flight takes you over secluded alpine lakes, lush rainforest, and past rugged mountain peaks.
Go skiing – During the winter months, the mountains here provide some of the best skiing (or snowboarding) in New Zealand. The trails range from easy to difficult and there are many options here for experts. (Remember the NZ winter is during the North American summer!)
Do the Nevis jump – If you’ve ever considered bungy jumping and haven’t done it, Queenstown is the place to do it! It’s home to the infamous 500 foot Nevis bungy jump. It’s one of the highest in the world:
Ride on a zipline – Ziplining is a new activity here and they are just beginning to extend the course. You can zipline on the mountain near the gondola and whiz through the forest as you look down upon the city and the lake.
Explore the vineyards – With all of the wonderful wine that comes out of New Zealand, you’ll definitely want to include a wine tour and tasting on your trip. Queenstown is a premier wine region in New Zealand for white wines.
See the underwater observatory – Set below water level, with an arrangement of massive windows, this observatory is a live, interactive exhibit of the lake. There are many large fish to see, and for a mere dollar, fish feeders dispense.
Visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park – This park is home to more than 10,000 native flora and fauna, various birds, and, more importantly, thousands of Kiwis. Beyond a pleasant walk around the sanctuary, there is a cultural show to see, put on by the Maori locals.
Enter St. Peter’s Church – Originally built in 1863, this little historical treasure has since been upgraded from a wooden church to one with stone foundations. The major attraction here, beyond the beautiful detailing, is the carved Eagle Lectern, an addition made in 1874.
Ride a horse – With so much beautiful scenery around, Queenstown makes for the perfect place to go trail riding. Half-day, full-day, and even multi-day tours are available, most of which take you through the rivers and lake area.
Go off-roading – There are a few tour operators in the area that offer half-day off-roading adventures in 4WD vehicles. These tours take you through the canyons and across the rivers, so prepare for a lot of fun and don’t worry if you get a bit wet. Expect to pay between $50-100 USD.