If you like throwing yourself head first into canyons, jumping off mountains or hurtling at the speed of light up rivers then Queenstown is the place to go. But what if all that stuff doesn’t suit you, or your bank account? Never fear, there’s still plenty to see and do!
Ride the Gondola
You can’t visit Queenstown without heading up the gondola to take in those spectacular views, and for not much more money you can take a few rides on the luge. The ride isn’t as challenging or long as the one in Rotorua, but the views on the way down are spectacular, and if you time it right, you might see a paraglider launch themselves off the side of the hill. Just make sure your littlest luger is over 135cm tall if they want to ride the harder of the two tracks. There’s a viewing platform which can get crowded, and a restaurant – but you can also take your own food and sit at one of the outside tables to watch the planes come and go, and the paragliders float down to the lake.
Play Indoor Mini Golf
On the way back to town from the Gondola, you can stop in at the world-famous-in-NZ Caddy Shack for a game of indoor mini golf. It’s a full 18 hole course, and each hole has it’s own unique theme and set of moving parts. The tweens loved watching their ball head up the gondola, careen down the Shotover river and ski down the Remarkables. The course is definitely challenging enough to keep the adults entertained too. It’s pretty expensive at $72 for a family of 5, but it was a good 2 hours of entertainment, and in the context of Queenstown, it’s still quite cost effective. Plus it’s a great indoor activity if the weather isn’t doing what you’d like it to do.
Play Frisbee Golf in the Gardens
The gardens are just a short walk along the lake front from town, and the loop track ensures you can take in the stunning views. To make it more interesting, grab a bag of frisbees for around $5 from one of the sports shops in town (like Small Planet Sports) and have a round of frisbee golf while you walk! There are 18 baskets to complete so a round takes a good couple of hours. Top tip: let the kids play as one, taking turns to throw, to save a bit of time! If you’re there on a Sunday afternoon around 3pm you can watch members of the Queenstown Disc Golf Club play and get some tips from the experts!
Eat some Chocolate
After all that activity you’ll need to recharge the batteries and what better way to do it than with chocolate! The Patagonia Ice Creamery & Chocolaterie right on the waterfront in Rees Street. The have the most gorgeous (and delicious) desserts available all day long, decadent chocolate-themed breakfasts and their hot chocolates got a double thumbs up from the tweens. Head upstairs to watch the chocolatiers at work, and for beautiful views across the lake. And on the way out, grab a few bars of chocolate to take away.
Queenstown isn’t big on providing places where you can sit and eat your own food without being surrounded by ducks and their poo. So grab yourself something from the bakery and head for Perky’s Floating Bar where you can BYO food so long as you buy yourself a very reasonably priced drink. Budget eating with million-dollar views and a prime spot for watching the comings and goings on the lake. Can get a little busy at night, and a little rocky if the wind is coming from the wrong direction, but that aside, this was our favourite spot!
Taste some Wine
After all this activity, you’ll be needing a drink! Head to The Winery up the back of town in Beach Street. They’ve got over 80 wines available for tasting, including a Penfolds Grange (although at $37.50 for a tasting glass it was a little out of our budget!). Simply grab a chip card, select your wine and the size of glass you’d like (tasting, half or full), order yourself a cheeseboard or platter and make yourself at home in the big, comfy leather chairs. Just make sure you take something to keep the kids entertained.
Book Me if you do want to do any of the big-ticket, adrenaline-filled activities, check sites like BookMe for deals and discounts. Often adult prices on the early morning rides or activities outside of weekends and peak times are discounted, which meant we could squeeze a ride on the K-Jet into our budget.
It’s easy to spend a lot of cash very quickly in Queenstown, and the longer you stay the more enticing the expensive, adrenalin-filled activities become! But with a bit of research and planning, you can have a fun, action-packed family holiday without breaking the bank.
We researched and paid for this trip to Queenstown ourselves. None of the activities or companies reviewed in this article invited us to visit or paid for any part of our trip.