Destination Guide: Queenstown

Created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, but there’s a lot more to it than adrenalin – and that is what makes Queenstown a fantastic family holiday destination.

Whether you’re planning to head away over the school holidays or just want to escape on a mini-break, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create some lasting memories with your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

Free family activities

Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family.

Arrowtown Chinese Settlement – during the Gold Rush, Chinese miners flocked to Arrowtown. Rather than being able to live up in town, they were forced to live along the edge of the creek below town. The restored huts and information boards serve to give you an interesting insight into how they lived.

Moke Lake Loop Track – 15 minutes along the road out of Queenstown to Glenorchy is the turnoff to Moke Lake – a picturesque little lake high up in the hills. There is a well formed track right around the lake making the 2-3 hour walk easy.

Queenstown Gardens and Playground – at the far end of Queenstown Bay, away from town, lies the picturesque botanic gardens and playground featuring the iconic rope swing.

18 Hole Disc Golf Course – located inside Queenstown Gardens is an 18 hole disc (frisbee) golf course. The holes are chain baskets. Bring your own disc and complete the course or make up your own fun. 

Self Drive Lord of the Rings Tour – find some of the locations where some of the iconic scenes from the LOTR trilogy were filmed including where Arwen defeats the Nazgûl by conjuring up a flood.

Queenstown Hill Walk – up behind Queenstown (look straight up The Mall) is Queenstown Hill. You can start in town, but most people drive up to the start of the track where you head up to the summit. The views are stunning as is the ‘Basket of Dreams’ sculpture you will find along your way.

Fun family experiences

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or amazing scenery, Queenstown is THE destination.

Deer Park Heights

Deer Park Heights

Deer Park Heights is a self drive adventure like no other. The road takes you up 550 metres through a working deer farm. There are scenic lookouts, locations where scenes from many movies have been filmed, and a fascinating range of animals. Bring your camera and spend the day.

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Skyline Gondola and Luge

Skyline Gondola and Luge

Soaring 450 metres up above Queenstown the gondola is the gateway to spectacular views, a fun luge, two great dining options, plus some great walks.

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TSS Earnslaw

TSS Earnslaw Lake Cruise

The Lady of the Lake was launched the same year as the Titanic. Restored to her original condition she is the only hand-fired steamship in operation in the Southern Hemisphere. There is a cafe onboard and the cruise is suitable for all ages.

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KJet – Jet Boating

One of the iconic adrenalin attractions in Queenstown, KJet will take you on a thrilling 60 minute adventure down the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers as well as across Lake Wakatipu.

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ZipTrek Ecotours

Set high above Queenstown, Ziptrek is the worlds steepest zipline but offers tours through the canopy suitable for all ages, confidence levels and abilities. You can descend 30 stories at up to 70kph or take it more sedately.

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Family friendly eateries

All that fresh mountain air will be making you all extra hungry but luckily there is an exciting selection of places to refuel. 

The Cow – tucked away in Cow Lane, the stone barn that is now The Cow originally housed cows which used to wander down the lane for daily milking. Operating  since 1977 means it’s Queenstown’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. If pizza and pasta is your thing, head to The Cow.

The Boat Shed Cafe & Bistro – located at the Frankton Marina overlooking the lake The Boat Shed has easy parking, or it’s the perfect stop if you’re cycling the Frankton Track. Check out the photos and memorabilia of Meteor III – one of the original foiling boats in New Zealand.

Ferg Burger – this iconic burger joint is joined by spinoffs Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Gelateria meaning there really is something for everyone in Queenstown’s strip of deliciousness on Shotover Street. Internationally famous, you can beat the queues this year.

Hole In One Cafe  – housed in the original farm stables at Millbrook, Hole In One Café offers muffins, cakes and pastries all freshly baked on site along with sandwiches, pizza, salads, burgers and more. Kids menu available and open until late.

Where to stay

For family friendly stays, we recommend checking out the below.

Scenic Suites

Scenic Suites Queenstown – located in town with stunning views, Scenic Suites offer one and two bedroom self contained apartments.

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Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Crowne Plaza Queenstown – opposite Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown. With lake or mountain views, the twin rooms can cater for 2 adults and 2 children. 

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Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lake View – conveniently close to town and offering a range of room and apartment options. Take in the stunning mountain and lake views.

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Blue Peaks

Blue Peaks Apartments – two and three bedroom holiday apartments are totally self-contained, spacious and fully equipped, ideal for families just 2 mintues walk from town and opposite Queenstown Gardens.

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Arrowtown Viking Lodge – a pleasant walk from Arrowtown town centre with 8 self-contained, spacious individual 1 and 2 bedroom units. Units contain full kitchen, separate living area with sofas, and an automatic washing machine.

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Written by Kidspot New Zealand for Tourism New Zealand.

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