Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, but there’s a lot more to it than adrenaline – and that’s what makes Queenstown a fantastic family holiday destination.
Spring in New Zealand is a great time to get away for a family holiday, mini-break, or even just a weekend. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create wonderful 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. Regions and venues may have travel and access restrictions due to the Covid-19 Protection Framework.
Fun family experiences
Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or amazing scenery, Queenstown is THE place for a fun family adventure.
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 at a slower pace.
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.
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.
One of the iconic adrenalin attractions in Queenstown, Shotover Jet will take you on a thrilling adventure down the Kimiākau (Shotover River) and through the spectacular Shotover Canyons.
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.
Free family activities
Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family.
During the Gold Rush, Chinese miners flocked to Arrowtown, living along the edge of the creek below town. Their restored huts and information boards give an interesting insight into how they lived.
Fifteen minutes along the road out 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.
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.
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At the far end of Queenstown Bay, away from town, lies the picturesque botanic gardens and playground featuring the iconic rope swing.
Located inside Queenstown Gardens is an 18 hole disc (frisbee) golf course, with chain baskets for ‘holes’. Bring your own disc and complete the course or make up your own fun.
Find locations where some of the iconic scenes from the LOTR trilogy were filmed including where Arwen defeats the Nazgûl by conjuring up a flood.
Family friendly eateries
All that fresh mountain air will be making you all extra hungry so luckily there is an exciting selection of places to refuel.
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.
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.
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.
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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. Or search here for holiday parks and campgrounds.
Located in town with stunning views, Scenic Suites offer one and two bedroom self contained apartments.
Opposite Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown. With lake or mountain views, the twin rooms can cater for 2 adults and 2 children.
Conveniently close to town and offering a range of room and apartment options. Take in the stunning mountain and lake views.
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.
Situated in the heart of the Queenstown-Lakes region, just moments from the historic and thriving village of Arrowtown. Their stylish one, two, and three bedroom apartments offer modern and spacious self-contained holiday accommodation, fantastic for every season.
- Find more fun family adventure ideas
- Plan a trip to Rotorua with our destination guide
- Richie & Gemma McCaw’s top tips for family travel
- Why now is a great time to visit iconic spots around New Zealand
Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.