10 Best Things to Do in Queenstown: Perfect Mix of Action + Relaxation

10 Best Things to Do in Queenstown: Perfect Mix of Action + Relaxation

In case you weren’t aware, Queenstown, New Zealand is known as the “adventure capital of the world“. Now you know, and now you gotta get your butt over there!

Queenstown sits on a stunning lake on the South Island of New Zealand. The snowcapped mountains enveloping the town makes for the perfect backdrop for numerous adrenaline activities. People come from all over the world to experience Queenstown’s many heart-stopping adventure activities and I personally think it should be somewhere near the top of your dream travel check list.

Aside from the exciting activities, Queenstown also has many low key activities if you want to have a perfect mix of adventure plus relaxation, which is what I will highlight below!

10 Best Things to Do in Queenstown

1. Hike up the Queenstown Park Hill

If you’re into hiking, Queenstown has a few great scenic hikes around the area to choose from. Queenstown Park Hill Time Walk trail is one of the easier hikes, which is why I picked it since I’m not a die-hard hiking fan (unless it affords epic views).

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

The whole hike will take you about 2-3 hours, depending on your fitness level. The views from the top are stunning and you can really see the magnitude of the landscape Queenstown is famous for.

Tip: Most of the hike is uncovered, so make sure to wear sunscreen! Also, make sure to go past the summit onto the steep dirt hill because the views up there are way better!

2. Bungee Jumping

I said I would never bungee jump, unless I went to Queenstown, New Zealand, the home of bungee jumping. You heard that right, Queenstown is where bungee jumping originated.

Well, I never thought I would end up in Queenstown, so I had to keep up with my promise. You can watch me freaking out in this video I made of the whole experience below. 

Bungee Jumping is one of the best things to do in Queenstown, so face your fears and go for it! You will not regret it! The staff at AJ Hackett Bungy were amazing and really knew how to lighten the mood during this nerve-wrecking time! They were cracking jokes right up to my jump, which helped tremendously. I almost backed out last minute, but they got me through it!

AJ Hackett Bungy are the pioneers of bungee jumping and I felt safe going with them. They have a 100% safety rating, in case you were wondering. Because, you know, that’s kinda an important thing. 

3. Onsen Hot Pools

After all the adventure activities in Queenstown, you’re going to need some R&R and Onsen Hot Pools provides the perfect setting for this. The onset spa is located a few minute drive outside the city on a quiet (and freaking gorgeous) mountainside location.

Imagine having your own private room with jacuzzi that opens up to the epic mountainside and Shotover Canyon. It is UNREAL and shouldn’t be missed on your trip to New Zealand! It really makes you feel like VIP, so sit back and basque in it.

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

Up to 4 people can book for one jacuzzi so if you’re with your friends this would be a fun activity!

Cost: $45 for one person (and decreases the more people you have in your group). I actually really enjoyed the whole place to myself and felt like a total baller.

Pickup and drop off from Queenstown is included.

Tip: make sure to book a few days in advance online because there are a limited number of jacuzzis. They also have a nighttime candlelight option that I wanted to do but it was all booked for the next 2 weeks!

4. Use Bookme.co.nz to Book Last Minute Activities

One of the locals told me about bookme.co.nz and it was awesome! It offers last minute activities at a fraction of the cost. I did notice that they offered random time slots so some flexibility might be needed and it might not be possible to squeeze one of these activities in if you’re schedule is already packed. If you have an activity you just HAVE to do, I wouldn’t rely on this site because you might be disappointed. But definitely give it a shot. I found an awesome bike ride through Gibbston Wine valley at half price the day before and it was so much fun!

5. Bike Ride Through the Gibbston Valley Wineries

I found this last minute deal on bookme.co.nz and jumped on it. It included pick-up from Queenstown, bike rental, and return transfer to the city (it’s about 20 minutes outside of Queenstown). You can rent a bike and ride along the vibrantly green Kawarau River and go winery hopping. You can also go to the bridge bungee jump and watch a few jumps, which is fun! Some of them even get dipped into the water.

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

I did the half day tour and so wish I would have booked the full day option. After going to the bridge bungee jump, I didn’t have much time to go to different wineries and only ended up doing a tasting at one of them. The ride along the river is gorgeous so you also need to factor in time for picture taking!

This was honestly one of my favorite activities I did while in Queenstown. Wine and scenery, two simple things that make me happy!

Cost: $55 NZD (about $38 USD).


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6. Eat at Fergburger

Fergburger is deemed the best burger in the world. I almost skipped this because I was sure it would be overrated. Just about every Queenstown guide will urge you to come here, so I was very skeptical. But in my opinion, it’s THAT good. They even had a nice soft gluten free bun so I could eat an actual hamburger so I was in heaven. The line is always out the door and around the corner, but it’s worth the wait.

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown; Fergburger

The burgers are huge and filled me up filled me up from a late lunch all the way through dinner. I also saved money this way by combining 2 meals and it ended up being pretty cheap in terms of my food budget in Queenstown.

7. Do Your Own Wine Tasting at The Winery

The Winery is the perfect night cap to an adventurous or relaxing day. This is the coolest place ever for wine lovers and I wish they had more of these in the states!

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown: The Winery

There are over 80+ wines to choose from which are separated into wine type. You can walk around and basically do your own wine tasting. You can choose from a tasting, 1/3 glass, or full glass of wine and just insert your electronic card into the machine.

The prices are listed in front of you so you know what you’re getting into. Once you’re finished you take your card up to the register and pay, easy as that! They also serve big cheese and meat boards which can be paired with the wine, which looked really nice!

8. Hike up the New Zealand Skyline and Take the Gondola down

If you’re into hiking and want to catch some more panoramic views, hike up to the Skyline. It takes about an hour and is not very difficult. I thought it was cool to see the extreme mountain bikers riding down the mountain and zipping through the woods right past me.

Once at the top, enjoy the best panoramic view over Queenstown. If you do the bungee jumping, you can kill 2 birds with one stone! Take the gondola down and enjoy the scenery.

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

View from the top of the Skyline where you can watch the bungee jumpers in action!

If you’re lazy, take the gondola roundtrip!

Tip: if you’re going to do the bungee or hang-gliding, you will need to buy your own gondola ticket (which are pricy), so I would wait until this to go up so you don’t have to buy the ticket twice!

9. Have Dessert at Cookie Bar

If you have a sweet tooth like me, you will love Cookie Bar. It’s a cute little place where you can get varieties of warm cookies, milkshakes, ice cream or a mixture of each.

Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

My mouth was watering just looking at everyone else receiving their beautifully decorated desserts. I opted for the rocky road (gluten free, yay) cookie on top of vanilla ice cream and #omgyum. So soft and gooey, just the way I like it. Let’ just say I may have been a regular customer.Unique Things To Do in Queenstown

10. Take a Day Trip to Milford Sound

Milford sound is one of those “musts” when you’re in Queenstown. It can be done as a (very long) day trip. You can self-drive or take a tour and I opted for the latter since I was traveling solo and a car rental in the area was very expensive. I chose to go with BBQ Bus essentially due to the small (er) group size and great reviews on TripAdvisor.

Well hello Norway…I mean New Zealand! 😍😍 #milfordsound #lovenz #newzealand #gopro #goprogirls #naturelovers @bbqmilfordsound

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Note that you will be spending lots of time in the car because it is pretty far, however, there are some cool stops along the way to get out and stretch and enjoy the scenery. Stops included Te Anu (the 2nd largest lake in New Zealand), Mirror Lake, Cascade Creek for a scenic walk through the moss covered forest, and the Chasm, to see some cool waterfalls and streams.

My favourite part of the drive was the last 30 minutes before we arrived in Milford Sound, where we passed through gorgeous natural waterfalls smoothly cascading down the snow capped mountains. It was gorgeous and we stopped a few times to take photos (which do not do it any justice whatsoever).

BBQ Bus

At Milford Sound, we boarded the Milford Adventure boat, which was one of the smaller boats thankfully. Some of the other companies had large boats completely crowded with tourists. Thanks, but no thanks.

On the way home, we stopped by a quiet little lake where our tour guide set up a BBQ lunch. We ate with the peaceful sound of the stream and staring out into the spectacular New Zealand countryside.

Activity that should have made the list: Hang Gliding 

Hang gliding would have been the perfect ending to this adrenaline plus relaxation list. However, things don’t always go according to plan and it was cancelled TWICE due to weather.

Valuable Tip for Booking Queenstown Activities: book any air based activity (hand gliding, skydiving, bungee) for the first day of your trip as they often get cancelled due to weather. I had hand-gliding booked the second to last day and it got canceled and rescheduled to my last day. When the time came, it was cancelled AGAIN due to wind. It wasn’t even that windy, but I guess they are super strict and want to ensure the utmost in safety (which hey, I’m ok with!).

Disclaimer: I was a guest of BBQ Bus and AJ Hackett Bungy; however, my opinions remain my own and I would never promote something I didn’t enjoy. I would never sell out like that!

So…Have I convinced You to Add Queenstown to Your Bucket List? If you’ve Already Been, What was the Highlight for You? Comment below!♥

Click photo to PIN for later ♥

best things to do in Queenstown

 

 


MY TOP 5 RECOMMENDED TRAVEL GEAR FOR NEW ZEALAND:

1.Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!

2. Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. I use this lens more than the original and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.

3. E Bags Packing Cubes: the biggest life changer to keep me packing light! This is my biggest travel gear obsession and I have NO idea how I traveled without them before.

4. LifeProof NUUD Waterproof Case (iPhone 6): this helps protect my phone from water, sand, dirt, and the numerous drops that incur while I travel. I love it!

5. GoPro Hero 5 Black: I am a proud GoPro ambassador and obsessed with GoPro selfie pics if you didn’t notice! The Gopro cameras are the best for action and underwater shots, and of course for taking those selfies when you’re traveling solo.  It’s super small, compact, and easy to travel with. Plus it’s so much fun to use! 🙂

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love 🙂

 

6 Awesome & Unique Things to Do on New Zealand’s North Island

6 Awesome & Unique Things to Do on New Zealand’s North Island

Traveling to New Zealand had been a long time dream for me. However, the price of the airline ticket and the distance kept me away for so long.

That is until I found an error fair on Qantas for $216 round trip!!!

I never in a million years thought that was even possible to get a ticket to somewhere that far away for so cheap! I had about 20 minutes to decide and book…and I never looked back!

Fast forward a few months later, where I spent 12 days in New Zealand over the past fall and it was one of my favourite trips to date!

I couldn’t decide between the North and South Islands, so I did a little of both! I rented a car and spent 8 days total on the North Island and I would highly recommend doing the self drive so you can get more off the beaten path (and save time).

I stayed in Airbnbs the whole time on New Zealand’s North Island and it averaged about $32 a night, so not bad at all!

I rented an automatic car for 5 of the 8 days on the island and it costed $232 (including the extra insurance and drop off at a different airport). It’s definitely cheaper if you know how to drive stick shift! 

I used RentalCars.comto book my car rental (which is what I use for ALL my car rentals. The prices seem to be the lowest and their customer service has been great. I have been using them for YEARS and I have no complaints!)

Disclaimer: Btw, the above link is an affiliate link, meaning I may get a very small commission if you book using my link, at no extra cost to you. It helps keeps this site up and running, so thank you!)♥

Unique Things to Do on New Zealand’s North Island 

1. Step Into the Magical Land of Hobbiton

Ok I have a confession, I have never seen Lord of the Rings OR The Hobbit. Yet, I still wanted to visit this place because it looked like something out of this world. 

Unique Things to Do on New Zealand's North Island

And boy was I right! Hobbiton was everything I imagined and more. Walking around all the miniature houses and taking selfies in front of the colorful round doors made me feel like a kid again.

Lucy, I'm hommmmme! | Back to Hobbiton pics, sorry guys 😂#hobbiton #hobbitonmovieset #newzealand #middleearth

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This little village is the actual movie set of the famous movies and can only be visited with a tour, so make sure you book tickets in advance! I absolutely loved Hobbiton, and I can imagine fans of the movie would DIE over it!

Hobbiton is a must see in New Zealand, whether you’ve seen the movies or not!

2. Visit the Colorful Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

This area is one of the most volcanically active areas of the world. I had no idea until I visited!

The coolest geothermal area I have ever seen!! 😍😍 #waiotapu #newzealand #geothermal

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You know how after you’ve been to more than one thermal area, they all kinda look the same after a while? Well, not this one! I was surprised that I enjoyed this so much and spent a few hours here exploring the area.

what to do in New Zealand North Island

There are a few different paths you can take to walk around the whole park, so give yourself a few hours to do so. The colors of the hot springs were like nothing I had ever seen and they were very picturesque (albeit extremely smelly).

It’s a bit pricey to enter, at $32.50 NZD (about $23) a ticket, but honestly well worth it!

3. Hike to the Gorgeous Cathedral Cove (Coromandel Peninsula)

Unique Things to Do on New Zealand's North Island

A few years back, on a Contiki trip to Thailand, I met an adorable little Kiwi (New Zealander) girl. I asked her the ONE place I can’t miss if I ever come to New Zealand and she mentioned Cathedral Cove. She was SPOT ON!!! (Thanks Rachel).

To get to Cathedral Cove, it requires an easy 45 minute hike from the car park. There are 2 beaches on either side of the cove, both worthy of your time. Ironically, this beach reminded me a bit of Thailand!

Tip: There are a few detours you can make on the way back that are way worth it, namely Stringray Bay. The pastel green water framed against limestone cliffs and lush greenery is breathtaking. It’s also pretty secluded so it’s a great place to get away from the crowds.

what to do in New Zealand North Island

4. Go Wine Tasting on Waiheke Island

A 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland will bring you to a quiet little island called Waiheke. So what does Waiheke have to offer? A beautiful island with cliff-hanging epic views and several beautiful wineries. Need I say more? I was in absolute heaven. 

what to do in New Zealand North Island

There is a bus system that connects to most of the wineries, but you can also walk to some of them from the port. I decided to take the nice little path up to the first winery and I was afforded with great panoramic views of the cliffside and water.

Wine tastings cost around $10 for 3-5 tastings, not bad at all.

My favorite winery on Waiheke island was Mudbrick, so make sure to hit this one up while you’re there. It had such a cute ambiance and the views over the island were spectacular. You could ever see the Auckland skyline from there!

5. Explore the Mystical Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

I’m not going to lie, the glow worm caves was one of my top reasons for wanting to visit the North Island of New Zealand. Where else can you see something as cool as this?

I took a tour of the glow worm caves that lasted about 45 minutes. They took us to the caves and explained a little about the lifecycle of the glow worms and why they glow, which was very interesting.

The glowworms emit a bright bluish green color from their tails to attract insects, and to fend off other animals from eating them.

The glowworm has a lifecycle of only 11 months and only lives a few days as an adult fly. The term “life is short” takes on a whole new meaning for the glow worm.

We then boarded a small boat and our guide stood at the front and navigated us through the caves pulling on these seemingly invisible ropes attached to the walls. It was super dark in there and a little spooky, until you see the glowworms. It looked like a starry sky lit up in bright blue from underneath and it was a very peaceful experience. It kinda felt like we were in a virtual reality world, it was a really special experience.

Tip: you CANNOT take pictures inside the cave because it may startle the glowworms (also, they turn off their lights when they see light).

6. Escape to the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is about 3-4 hours from Auckland by car and consists of 140 subtropical islands off the coast.

what to do in New Zealand North Island

As I was short on time, I only got to visit the cute little seaside town of Paihia, as well as took a boat to Russell. Russell was New Zealand’s first capital, it’s first sea port, as well as it’s first permanent European settlement. It serves an important part in New Zealand’s history and definitely worth a visit.

There are some cute seaside cafes, beautiful beaches, and a few lookout points you can walk up to for a panoramic view of the nearby islands.

A big attraction in the Bay of Islands is swimming with dolphins in the wild. You basically take a boat out and search for dolphins and jump in with them! Since I did this in Zanzibar, I skipped out on this but I would highly recommend doing something like this because it was a wild and unforgettable experience in Zanzibar!

♥New Zealand, You Have My Heart♥

Overall, I loved all the gorgeous beaches and unique attractions in the North Island of New Zealand. I think 9 out of 10 people would recommend the South Island over the North, but I had a fabulous time and saw so many fantastic things. Don’t skip over the North Island because it has so much to offer! Although, I would recommend not spending much time in Auckland, because honestly there was nothing special about it and there are so many other awesome places to see on the island.

New Zealand blew me away and has now become one of my top 3 favorite countries! New Zealand is quiet and peaceful and has so much to offer in terms of nature, adrenaline activities, beautiful beaches, and epic views. There are so many unique things to do on New Zealand’s North Island, and I only just scratched the surface!

Have you been to the North Island of New Zealand? What were the highlights for you?

PIN for later!♥

what to do in New Zealand North Island

Disclaimer: I was a guest of waitomo.com during my glow worms tour. However, my opinions are my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I would never sell out like that! It was such a unique experience and I highly recommend it.