Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, and perhaps the whole world. You can do tons of crazy things here from bungee jumping to sky diving, though you’ll have to fork over a good amount of cash to do it. It’s also a magnet for backpackers, and just gives off an overall fun vibe. The town is nicely snuggled between mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The downtown itself sports lots of cool restaurants, pubs and shops. Queenstown is also a starting point to get to Milford Sound, which is a must see if you’re in the area. Definitely carve out a few days to explore the city, and make sure to prepare yourself for some adventure!
How to Get There
We decided to be crazy people and make the trip from Greymouth to Queenstown in one day. It’s a 8-9 hour drive, but you need to stop multiple times along the way to see the Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, and to take your mandatory beautiful New Zealand scenic photos. There’s a nice walk at Lake Matheson as well that gives a spectacular view of Mt. Cook on a calm cloudless day. The Haast Rapids and Fantail Falls are worth a stop, as are the Aspiring Mountains, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka which are all along that route. The full day took us about 13 hours with all the stops, but we were greeted by an amazing sunset entering Queenstown which made it all worth it. We recommend you break up this drive and really give yourself the time to enjoy the sights. Stay tuned for a post on our marathon drive down The Great Coast Road
We also travelled to Christchurch from Queenstown, which is approximately a 6 hour drive. However plan to spend some time checking out Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, two brilliant turquoise blue lakes on the way.
Where to Stay
- Swiss-Belresort – We stayed off the beaten path a bit at the Swiss-Belresort which is a 7 min drive from the center of town. A private room with an ensuite cost $74 a night, but the rooms were spacey and clean. The hotel reminded us of a ski chalet type hotel, which it kind of is, but it’s a little old and worn down. Nothing we weren’t used to. It also had a tv, fridge and wifi in the rooms. You can book Swiss-Belresort here, or take a look at hostels in town here.
What to Do
- Milford Sound – Milford Sound is a must see if you visit the South Island of New Zealand. We booked a tour through Jucy for a cruise of Milford Sound. It cost $109 each, and included pickup from Queenstown on a bus, and a ride back after the cruise. If you want to do Milford Sound in one day, this is the way to do it as the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is 5-6 hours. If you have time we’d recommend driving to Milford Sound one day, and doing the cruise and driving back the next day. We would’ve chosen the to drive ourselves if we weren’t flying out soon after, as we found the bus didn’t stop quite as much as we would’ve wanted to for pictures (though we were obsessed with the New Zealand scenery and would’ve liked to have stopped every five minutes). Seeing the waterfalls and the sheer rock cliffs in the sound, as well as the wildlife was a great experience. Check out our full post on Milford Sound here.
- Walk around the Town Center – The town center of Queenstown is pretty touristy, but also very nice. Lots of fun souvenir shops and other things to explore. It’s also right beside the waterfront which offers some great views of the famous Remarkable Mountains (which are just that!). Spend a day hanging out here and checking out the backpacker capital of New Zealand.
Where to Eat
- Ferg Burger – Honestly one of the best burgers we’ve ever had. These guys are massive and spectacularly put together. We don’t understand exactly how they do it, but these burgs are mighty tasty. Don’t be deterred by the constant line up, it’s worth the wait.