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First Timer's Guide To Queenstown, New Zealand

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Felicia Malolos

Klook Travel Curator

First Timer’s Guide to Queenstown, New Zealand

There’s no city more adventurous that Queenstown, New Zealand. If you’re looking for a thrilling getaway, head on south to the adrenaline capital of the world! If heart pumping activities aren’t for you, Queenstown is also home to an excessive amount of natural wonders that will leave tourists spellbound. So if you’re not visiting the city for the blood-rushing fun, the glorious views are sure to take your breath away!

Klook Activities in Queenstown


1. Essential Queenstown Activities

  • Start: 8:15 AM or 1:30 PM
  • End: 11:30 AM or 4:30 PM

Activities of Interest Covered:

  • Nomad Safari 4WD Off Road Tour
  • Gold Panning
  • Shotover Jet Boat Experience
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2. The Lord of the Rings Tour

  • Start: 8:00 AM or 1:30 PM
  • End: 12:15 PM or 5:45 PM

Places of Interest Covered:

  • Wakatipu Basin Tour:
  • Kawarau Gorge
  • Ford of Bruinen
  • Pillars of the Kings
  • Gladden Fields
  • Minas Tirith
  • Misty Mountains
  • Skippers Canyon
  • Gold Panning
  • Glenorchy Tour
  • Isengard
  • The Ithilien Camp
  • Lothlorien Forest
  • Battle of Amon Hen
  • 12 Mile delta
  • The Hobbit Filming location
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3. Queenstown Green & Gold Tour

  • Start: 8:00 AM
  • End: 5:30 PM

Activities and Places of Interest Covered:

  • Glenorchy
  • Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area
  • Dart River Jet Safari Experience
  • Nomad Safari 4WD Off Road Tour
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Queenstown Activities You Cannot Miss


1. Skydiving

There’s no better place to check skydiving off your bucket list than in Queenstown, New Zealand! Unlike anywhere else in the world, you’ll be diving over incomparable sights - making the experience even more unforgettable. So whether it’s your first time or your 10th, this thrilling activity is one tourists shouldn’t miss out on! Though we’re sure that this unique experience is bound to stay with you for a long time, make sure to still order your skydiving video to relive the experience in the years to come.

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2. Bungy Jumping

Queenstown is known to offer the best bungy jumping experiences in the world! So if you’ve ever thought of taking on this dauntless task, this is the place to do it! Due to popular demand, there are now several places you can bungy jump in Queenstown, so you’re free to choose depending height and experience! All these bungy jumping sites are operated by AJ Hackett - the most reputable company in the business!

Queenstown is home to the very first commercial bungy jump in the world - the Kawarau Bridge Bungy! Unlike any other bungy jumps, this is the only site where you can do tandem bungys, so you and a friend can go through this experience together! Another bungy jump in the city is the Nevis Bungy, which happens to be the highest bungy jump in the whole of New Zealand at a soaring 134m high! But if you’re slightly apprehensive about this height, try out The Ledge Bungy, which is at about 47m high, and offers magnificent views of the city from the Skyline Gondola!

3. Skyline Gondola and Luge

If there’s one thing everyone should do on their first trip to New Zealand it has the be the Skyline Gondola! A fearless spirit is not required for this activity, since all you need to do is ride up a gondola, or a cable car, to get access to the best views of the city including The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu . Make sure to have your camera ready as the views get better as you get to the top of Bob’s Peak!

If you’re up for more excitement, try the luge activity at the top of the mountain! Though there are several Skyline Luge activities around the world, the one in Queenstown is arguably the best thanks to the spectacular views you’ll get as you cruise down the tracks! However, if you prefer a more relaxed activity - a walk around Bob’s Peak is also undoubtedly a pretty epic experience!

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4. TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise

There’s seriously no better way to experience Queenstown than to cruise down Lake Wakatipu for jaw dropping sights of the city! The TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise has been hosting river tours for over a hundred years and has earned a reputation for providing one of the best tourist experiences in the city. As you cruise down the lake, you’ll catch sights of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak - all of which are sure to leave you speechless!

However if a river cruise isn’t enough to convince you to go on this activity - the food might win you over! Missing out on this cruise means missing out the best BBQ in the city - and we’re not exaggerating! So if you can’t be swayed by the views, go for the fantastic culinary experience!

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5. Helicopter Ride

Ever wondered how Queenstown looks from up high? Well you can find out through an epic helicopter ride over the city! This ride will present you with 360 aerial views of Queenstown that will leave you speechless. Get up close the stunning boulders and snow-trimmed mountains that you could have only seen from a distance in any other location in Queenstown. To add to the experience, your private pilot will also give you a crash course on the city’s history as you fly through the nature’s best - making this unique “city tour” an unforgettable one.

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6. Jet Boat Ride

If you’re still dipping your feet into the city’s adventurous activities, the Jet Boat Ride is a great activity to start with! However, a word of caution: the ride is bound to be bumpy, and you will get wet! But despite all of this, we guarantee that this experience is unlike any other - especially with the ridiculously stunning canyons you’ll be cruising through!

When in Queenstown, tourists must try the Shotover Jet Boat Ride - which has been zooming down the Shotover River for over a hundred years! This world famous activity has brought excitement to the lives of many people - Prince William and Kate Middleton included! We’re sure this exhilarating boat ride is sure the spark your adventurous spirit!

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7. Lord of the Rings Tour

If you’re a massive fan of the Lord of The Rings franchise, then you’re in for a treat! In case you weren’t aware, Queenstown happens to be the main filming location for all three films, so keep your eyes peeled as you might find Gandalf lurking beneath the trees somewhere. Book yourself a Lord of the Rings tour and relive your favorite scenes from the award-winning trilogy, including The Hobbit! Apart from visiting the filming sites for the movies, your tour guide will also make sure to provide you with fun trivia and as well as picture matches to enhance the experience.

Even if you’re not a fan of the films, we still think it’s worth doing! Tourists will be brought to incredibly stunning locations in the city like Skippers Canyon, Pillars of the Kings, and Ithilien Camp! Who knows? You might be converted to a Lord of The Rings fan yourself after this tour!

8. Canyon Swing

As if Queenstown isn’t already full of adrenaline pumping activities, visitors now also have the option to test their tolerance for heights at a canyon swing activity! Unlike bungy jumping, the canyon swing activity won’t have you hanging by your feet! Instead, you can choose how you would like to free fall - you can do flips, include props, or jump backwards - it’s all up to you! It sounds terrifying, but with the sights you’re about to swing over - it’s truly an experience any thrill-seeker absolutely cannot miss!

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9. Quad Bike Activity

Take control of your Queenstown adventure and rent out a quad bike! Drive through some of the most scenic areas in the city and zoom past dirt tracks, winding paths, and rivers! You’ll arrive at picturesque locations - whether that be down by a canyon or somewhere up a mountain - where you can relax, have snack, and snap photos of landscapes you can’t access anywhere else. This is a great activity to do with friends - so make sure to tag them along this exciting journey!

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10. Kiwi Birdlife Park

If you didn’t know, people from New Zealand are called kiwis! However, the nickname is did not derive from the delicious green fruit, but in fact after a wildly rare bird called - you guessed it, kiwi! In this wild life park, you’ll be exposed to these adorable creatures and so many others! Along with Queenstown’s thrilling activities, it also happens to be one of the best sites to experience nature’s wonders. So after you’ve gawked at all the picturesque mountains and canyons, spend some time at the Kiwi Birdlife Park and enjoy the company of adorable birds and reptiles!

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What to eat


1. Lamb

No one else cooks lamb as well as the Kiwi’s do. This dish is actually incredibly popular in New Zealand, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to devour this delicacy! It’s so common that even their McDonald’s have a lamb burger on its menu! The lamb is prepared in a variety of ways - chops, steak, racks, and even on skewers! For some exceptional lamb, drop by Botswana Butchery for a guaranteed superb culinary experience!

2. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

We scream for Hokey Pokey Ice Cream! This delicious dessert is made out of caramelized honeycomb and it will seriously make you dance in delight! If you’ve finished up a meal in Queenstown, skip the restaurant’s dessert and head on over to Mrs Ferg Gelateria - where you can find the best Hokey Pokey in the city!

Photo Credit: Instagram user @ginalalala

3. Kiwi Burger

It’s not what you think - the Kiwi Burger does not contain any sort of fruit sandwiched in between the buns. The Kiwi Burger is a signature dish in New Zealand, favored by the Kiwis, hence its name. Apart from the usual content of a regular burger (burger patty, lettuce, cheese), this burger has a fried egg and beetroot in it! Might not be for everyone’s taste buds, but it's definitely worth a shot!

If you're still skeptical about this burger, try the Kiwi Burger at Fergburger and it might just change your mind! Fergburger is a must-visit restaurant in Queenstown that has pretty long queues, but is well worth the wait!

4. Pavlova

Though its origins are quite unclear, the Pavlova dessert has become a staple in both Kiwi and Australian culture. This delicacy isn’t your usual meringue - it’s made crispy in the outer layer and soft on the inside and is often topped with seasonal fruits and caster sugar. Though it’s more popular during special events like Christmas and birthdays, we think that a first time in Queenstown is deserving of a treat like this!