Exciting Things to do Near Queenstown

You may have heard that Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the World, and you don't need to look far to realise why! With an incredible array of activities, restaurants, nature and history to suit all ages, interests and travel styles, there's something for everyone!

But if you've already visited iconic attractions like the Skyline Gondola and Luge and feel like you're ready to explore the surrounding region (and take a break from the rush of the adventure town), you’ll be spoilt for choice.

So, to help guide your way, we’ve put together a few ideas that will hopefully fit your taste.

The top 5 things to do near Queenstown include:

  1. Play a round of golf
  2. Visit a Central Otago winery
  3. Go gold panning
  4. Mountain biking
  5. Take a scenic flight

A Gondola Carriage Ascends The Skyline Queenstown Cableway In The Early Morning Light With Cecil Peak Behind It.
Image Credit: Skyline.co.nz

1. Play a round of golf

Within a 20-minute drive from central Queenstown, you’ll find some of the region's most iconic golf courses.

The Arrowtown Golf Club is an 18-hole course surrounded by Coronet Peak, the Remarkable mountain range, and the historic mining town of Arrowtown.

The history of the Arrowtown region is still prominent, on your round of golf you'll find historic stone cottage ruins nestled amongst the towering deciduous trees. It's this setting which also makes the Arrowtown Golf Course one of the most photogenic golf courses in the region.

The Jack’s Point Golf Club, ranked as the number two course in the country, has the Remarkables mountain range as the background and stunning panorama views of Lake Wakatipu.

Either plan your own golfing trip, or join a golf tour - either way, your Queenstown golfing experience will be full of jaw-dropping scenery swings, on world-class courses.

Arrowtown Golf Club: 166 Centennial Avenue, Arrow Junction
Jack's Point Golf Club: McAdam Drive, Kawarau Falls

Arrowtown Golf Course and Clubhouse
Image credit: ExperienceQueenstown.com | Arrowtown Golf Course

2. Visit a Central Otago Winery

Most of New Zealand's wineries subside in a maritime climate - whereas the Central Otago region's mountainous location makes it susceptible to seasonal extremes. Summers are long and hot, while winters are crisp with frequent snowfall and heavy frosts.

So, for those readers who have a winegrower's mind, if you pair these climatic extremes with unique fast-draining soil composition, you'll know that tough growing conditions make rich grapes - which is the leading reason why Central Otago is world-renowned for its Pinot Noir.

Within a 40-minute drive of Queenstown's town centre, you’ll find around 200 vineyards. Central Otago is the southernmost wine growing region in the world, and the vast majority of the region's vineyards are in the Gibbston Valley.

At the Gibbston Valley Winery, you can explore the wine cave and take part in a tasting tour, where you will learn a lot about the region’s wine and even catch a glimpse of the winemakers in action.

The most popular ways to get to Gibbston Valley are to self-drive, take a bus tour from town, or hire e-bikes for a ride along the Queenstown Trail.

Gibbston Valley Wines: 1820 State Highway 6, Queenstown

Gibbston Valley Wine Tour in the Cave
Image credit: Destination Queenstown | Gibbston Valley

3. Try something new, with gold panning

Queenstown and the wider Central Otago region has a rich gold mining history. The early settlers to the region have left an incredible heritage, and today you can visit old farm homesteads and historic gold mining villages.

Some of the most popular gold mining towns surrounding Queenstown are Arrowtown, Macetown, Skippers Canyon, Cardrona, the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell.

At Goldfields Mining Centre you can pan for gold in virgin grounds and are likely to find small nuggets - worth real money! You’ll be provided with the equipment and right technique to have a few hours of fun.

Dudley’s Cottage in Arrowtown is also a very nice place to do gold panning with tutors, or you can rent everything you need and try your own luck at the Arrow River.

Goldfields Mining Centre: State Highway 6, Cromwell
Dudley’s Cottage: 4 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown

Couple Gold Panning on the Arrow River, Near Queenstown
Image credit: Destination Queenstown

4. Get on 2 wheels for some biking action

Queenstown is home to New Zealand’s first-ever Gondola assisted bike park. But as you're willing to explore the amazing region surrounding the adventure capital, there are plenty of bike tours to choose from - which cater for all ages and abilities.

Around the Basin offer daytrips which cater for all ages and abilities. Choose to go self-guided, take guides, do a half day, full day, explore the mountains or even bike to the wineries - they do it all! And the shuttle service will get you home when your legs have had enough of the pedalling.

For a more adventurous self-guided option, the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail offers a unique experience for those seeking to venture off the beaten track. The trail spans over 180 kilometres and can take up to 5 days to be conquered at a relaxed pace.

If that's a bit too much to chew, you can ride as much (or as little) as you want in a daytrip cycling alongside rivers, farms and awe-inspiring mountain vistas.

Around the Basin Bike Tours: The Station Building 9 Duke Street, Queenstown

A family of bikers ride on a gravel trail between willow trees
Image Credit: Destination Queenstown

5. Enjoy a scenic flight

From Queenstown, you can enjoy a range of scenic flights, either by helicopter, hot air balloon or fixed-wing flight charter. Fly to Fiordland with Air Milford - it's geographically closer than most people realise! 

Then combine your flight with a nature cruise in Milford Sound, where you'll explore its smooth black waters, only broken by waterfalls stretching out into the fiord - and the 'puff' of whales or dolphins breaking the surface.

Or experience a Southern Glacier tour with The Helicopter Line, soaring above native forests and glacial icefalls, landing among snow-capped peaks with awe-inspiring views of the Southern Alps.

Helicopter from The Helicopter Line flies over Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.
Image credit: The Helicopter Line

As the Adventure Capital of the World, the list of experiences in the regions surrounding Queenstown is staggering, even if you are on a budget. So hopefully this has helped you plan your visit to Queenstown, and really understand what's available in the wider region.

If you rent a car, you can access amazing locations like Arrowtown, Glenorchy and Wanaka to explore scenic walking and hiking tracks, breath-taking sights, and beautiful nature.


Now that you know the best things to do in the region surrounding Queenstown...

Read on to plan your perfect trip to Queenstown:

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