A guide to 3 days in Queenstown, New Zealand
I live, work and explore in Queenstown full time so it’s no surprise that I get asked all the time for recommendations in and around town. What to see, what to do, coffee, hikes, activities, you name it I’ve listed it for someone along the way.
The choice can sometimes be a little overwhelming, everywhere you turn there’s a jet boat, paraglider, golf courses and eateries a plenty. You want to make sure you make the most of your vacation, I get that, small town, limited time, well my friend I’ve got you covered.
Here is my comprehensive guide to the best three days you can have in Queenstown, in my humble opinion of course.
Congratulations, you have just arrived in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Let’s get stuck right in, after all you need to make the most of your time here.
Start your trip with a bang and tick off one of the many adrenaline-fuelled activities, after all Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world. You can Bungy jump with AJ Hackett, White water raft with Queenstown Rafting or skydive with NZone, you only live once right?
If the sound of these heart racing activities has you choking back your breakfast, you can always opt for a much mellower morning. Start you day with a Sunrise hot air balloon ride or find your zen at the Onsen Hot Pools – one of Queenstown’s best loved experiences. Lake cruises and winery tours are also on the agenda, Gibbston Valley is our famous wine region boasting an array of beautiful boutique wine and cheeserys.
For Lunch, let me list some of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat. On the go food is ideal, let’s face it you have more to cram into your day. If you haven’t tried a New Zealand Meat pie yet then head to Ferg Bakery, they are amazing, legit the best pies in town. Taco medic also offer an excellent taco menu, nacho snacks and the flavours are to die for. We have some awesome Asian fusion food here in Queenstown. Hawker and roll on the Mall have great roti’s that you can roll up and go. Tanoshi is the BEST place to go for Japanese food, word on the street is that they are opening a takeaway soon.
To round off your first day in Queenstown why not tick another Queenstown activity from your bucket list. Thunder Jet offer $69 Jet Boat rides or you could make your way up the Gondola to Skyline for sunset, don’t forget to get that postcard perfect photograph.
You have to go to Bespoke for breakfast, I mean you can go where you like but these guys have seriously nailed breakfast. They are famous for their breakfast boards that come with freshly pressed juices and a Chia pot on the side. A perfect way to start the day.
Okay, so when you’re fuelled up its time to tackle one of the many Queenstown day hikes. From Bespoke, you have the option of tackling the popular Queenstown hill hike or you can start the adventure up to the summit of Ben Lomond, Queenstown’s highest and most rewarding day hike.
Where ever you stand in Queenstown, Ben Lomond will tower over you. This walk can be 6-8 hours return so make sure you have the correct clothes, snacks and plenty of water. The hike begins at the base of the skyline gondola where you will walk the tiki trail for just over an hour. You can of course cheat and take the gondola up, eliminating the first bit of the track. The Ben Lomond track then begins, under bush before revealing a zig zag track to the saddle. Take your time soaking in the views at the saddle and prepare for the last hour. This part of the track is pretty steep and relentless, it requires you to step up onto large rocks and when I say its steep, I mean it. However, it is SO worth it. When you reach the summit, you are rewarded with 360 views of Queenstown and you can even see the west coast on a clear day. Watch your belongings as some cheeky Kea like to hang out up here but take it all in and appreciate your hard work getting there. On the descent don’t forget to stop at the Skyline café and grab a coffee or an ice cream to reward yourself.
If the above sounds a little too hard going then Queenstown hill is your friend. An easy 3-hour return hike, boasting some pretty awesome views over Queenstown. You can drive to the car park or walk half an hour from town. Spend some time at the basket of dreams sculpture but don’t forget to keep walking to the summit. Golden hour is a great time to be up here.
Okay, so by now you probably want to just crawl under the covers and grab a takeaway, but I have a better idea. Pre-book yourself a Salf Float Spa to recoup and relax. One whole hour of floating and resetting your mind before getting ready for some well-deserved dinner options. You will want to fill your boots after all that hiking so head here, also don’t worry about dressing up, these spots are super casual. Fat badgers serves not only the best pizza in town but also the largest and they have poutine! Madam woo will give you all the Asian vibes and public kitchen is great if you’re in a group and want food to share. The World bar serves amazing pub style burgers and other dishes and is famously known for their cocktail tea pots, a great place to hang out for a dance and more drinks.
You’ve had two already packed days here in Queenstown so today let me help you unwind a little and reflect on your getaway. Breakfast today has to be down at Yonder. Super hip and colourful with turmeric lattes, coconut milk a plenty and a breakfast menu that will have you questioning all your previous breakfast choices. After Yonder, take a stroll along the lake front. On a Sunday there is a market where you can purchase handmade goodies from local artists and the buskers will keep you entertained. Head in the direction of the Bathhouse and you will find signs for the Queenstown trail which passes through the botanical gardens and hugs the lakeside. There is plenty of opportunity for lakefront photos with the iconic Remarkables mountain range in the background.
Once you’ve worked off that breakfast you must eat again, you’re on holiday, right? Fergburger is famous, famous for a reason. Sample the menu, don’t get one to share, accept the challenge and enjoy every last bite. Afterwards jump in your car for one of the most scenic drives in the region. Head out towards Glenorchy, a small township at the head of the lake that has an awesome viewpoint on route. You can see the Humboldt mountains in the background with Pigeon and Pig island hanging out on the lake. Once you get to Glenorchy head to the iconic red shed and wharf to snap your photos and don’t forget to drop into Mrs Woolly’s general store for more local goodness.
Get ready to paint the town red on your last night, get dressed up and hit the bars. Queenstown is a foodie’s delight, we have world famous food by Chef Josh Emmet at Rata and meat cooked to perfection at Botswana Butchery. There’s a brand-new buffet in town in the Rydges, which covers all tastes and flavours. For drinks, my favourite bar is Little Blackwood, intimate, amazing cocktails and on the water, the perfect way to end your stay here in Queenstown.
We are lucky in that Queenstown is home to a multitude of accommodation options from budget backpacker dorms to multi-million-dollar home rentals. There are plenty of hotels dotted around the town, some central, some a little further out but all with easy access to the town centre. Some of my favourite places to stay are The Sherwood, the spire and the newly opened MI-Pad which is ran by an app on your phone. The Rydges is right on the lake front and has easy access to the Bazar buffet which is located in the hotel. The Rees hotel is also a popular choice, with Queenstown ferry connections or a complementary shuttle bus into town on the hour. Perfect if you don’t want to be in the hustle and bustle.
Booking.com will be your best friend in terms of searching for accommodation in central Queenstown.
Air BnB is in my opinion the best way to get a local feel for the place. I use it all the time when I’m travelling, and you can really connect and find out all that local goodness from your host. Here is a link to my self-contained airbnb unit, I love meeting new faces so don’t be shy. ( to sweeten the deal here’s my Link to save $50 off your first Airbnb booking, winning!)
Life in Queenstown is busy, its beautiful and most of all its never boring. You will be spoilt for things to do in the region and will leave with unforgettable memories.