Queenstown Rental Car Travel Itinerary
Although well known for being the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, Queenstown does offers visitors a good mix of both adventure activities, wonderful ways to relax and beautiful natural attractions.
Whether you enjoy the busy hive of activity during the winter months or the relaxed resort style vibe over the summer, Queenstown will not disappoint. To help you decide where to go and what to do in Queenstown we have put together this helpful week long itinerary.
To pack as much action as you can into each day, you need to start early. Grab your morning coffee and let’s go.
- If you’re here for the winter, be sure to spend some time enjoying the slopes of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski fields. Both within an easy 30 to 40 minutes’ drive from Queenstown central, these ski areas are well equipped and family friendly but also cater towards the more advanced skier or snowboarder.
- Ski and gear hire is available on the mountain, or from specialty hire shops in Queenstown. Shop around for the best deals but you will be looking at around $25-30 per day for skis, boots and poles, $20 extra per day for ski jacket and pants off-mountain and somewhat higher if hiring on the mountain.
- Both ski fields have multiple choices for eating out (and warming up!) Choose from the usual cafe style foods, hot soups and burgers through to restaurant meals and mulled wine.
- The Cardrona Ski field is just under an hour’s drive away if you need more or want to make a second day of it and try somewhere different.
This one’s for the adrenaline junkies out there, Bungy jumping in Queenstown – tick!
- Grab a healthy breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen on Isle Street (the breakfast board is divine) or head over to Joes Garage on Searle Lane for a hearty American style breakfast.
- The home of the New Zealand Bungy – Queenstown has three different Bungy jump experiences to choose from. Pick one or do them all! Kawerau Bridge is the original, you can even touch the water if you want. At 43 metres high, jumpers leap from a purpose built platform on the actual bridge, this one comes in around $200 per jump.
- The Nevis is the ultimate jump for those wanting to go big. At 134 metres high this one will have you wishing you didn’t have such a big breakfast! The Nevis does require a significant time commitment however, taking approximately 4 hours for the round trip. $275 is the price for this one.
- For those wishing to stay closer to town, the Ledge bungy is the one for you. At 47 metres high, the Ledge is situated at the top of the Queenstown Gondola, offering fantastic views out over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. The Ledge is also around $200 per jump plus the cost of the Gondola ride (Approx $40 return).
- For those wanting a double hit (or if you are too chicken to do the bungy) there is the option of doing a giant swing instead. Both the Ledge and the Nevis have giant swings, and the Kawarau Bridge has an amazing zip line fun ride.
Keep that adrenaline going… today you are going to get wet!
- Jet boating in Queenstown is one of those iconic must-dos when visiting the area. Feel the water spray in your face, hold on tight and experience the thrill of speeding along the river at top speeds. Queenstown is lucky to have several options on the go for jet boat enthusiasts – choose from the famous Shotover Jet, Skippers Jet, KJet and the Dart River Wilderness Jet.
- The Shotover jet is the ultimate thrill ride through the narrow Shotover Canyon walls, 1.5 hrs in total, 30 minutes on the water.
- Skipper Jet takes on the mighty Shotover River but further up the valley at Skippers Canyon. 3 hours in total with 30 minutes on the water.
- KJet are the ones to see if you are looking for a bit of variation, tours head out on Lake Wakatipu as well as the entrance of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. Conveniently these guys depart from the lakefront so no travelling time and you get approximately an hour on the water.
- The Dart River Wilderness Jet adds a new dimension with departures from Glenorchy. The entire tour takes around 6 hours and includes a 30 minute stroll through beech forests and a 4WD return trip and just over an hour on the water.
- Our verdict? The Shotover for thrill seekers, Skippers for the best value for money, KJet if you are short on time and like a bit of scenery and the Dart River Wilderness Jet for the perfect all day scenic experience for the whole family.
- Heading back to Queenstown it’s time for a late dinner at the world famous Fergburger restaurant. Expect a bit of wait no matter what time of day you go, but it will be worth it. Go all out with the ‘Big Al’ or mix it up a little and try ‘The Codfather’. Fergburger is open from 8am to 5am (all night!) so it doesn’t matter what time you get there.
Take it to new heights in Queenstown with a scenic flight.
- The best time to fly is first light so you might have to skip breakfast this morning or grab something on the go from The Exchange Café on Ballarat Street. Choose from a good selection of delicious cabinet food, and expect great coffee.
- Getting airborne in Queenstown is pretty easy, there are a multitude of ways depending on your preference. Stick with the traditional scenic flight, give hang gliding a go, paragliding, skydiving, or why not take a hot air balloon ride?
- Sunrise Balloons are the people to see for the most amazing hot air balloon ride over Queenstown. See stunning aerial views of the Southern Alps, the Fiordland National Park, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Hayes and the Shotover and Kawarau rivers. Flights last around an hour and the whole experience takes around 4 hours in total – dress warmly! Hot air balloon flights cost around $550.
- Taking to the air in a helicopter is also a great way to see Queenstown from the air. Scenic helicopter flights are offered by numerous flight companies – all with different variations. We reckon Heli Works Queenstown is the one for some really great package deals, Heli Tours for glacier and snow landings and the Over The Top Helicopter Company for quality customisable flights.
- After a relaxing day seeing the sights from above, it’s time for a relaxing dinner in the warm welcoming atmosphere of Queenstown’s premier lakefront dining destination; The Grille by Eichardt’s. Showcasing the region’s finest produce, The Grille is situated on Marine Parade and provides diners with a fine dining experience to remember.
After a long overdue sleep in – grab the rental car and head out for a day of fine wine, peaceful vineyards and excellent food.
- The Queenstown region is renowned for its boutique and specialty wineries and you are about to discover your new favourite today. First up we have the Carrick Winery about an hour’s drive East of Queenstown, located on Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn, Cromwell. Enjoy a meal of fresh seasonal produce with matching organic wines and beautiful views from the restaurant.
- After a leisurely lunch it’s time to get serious, there are more than a dozen wineries within the Cromwell area, take your time and make your way around as many cellar doors as you like.
- Heading back towards Queenstown the Gibbston Valley provides another selection of great wineries too, we recommend stopping off at the Gibbston Valley Winery for an afternoon of artisan cheese and wine tasting.
- Make a quick cellar door stop at the Chard Farm Winery for some seriously good Pinot Noir and the Wet Jacket Winery for some divine Chardonnay, stopping at the Amisfield Winery for fabulous views and an amazing ‘Trust The Chef’ dinner. Small portion multiple courses are served alongside some dishes designed especially for sharing. Expect “fresh seasonal produce that celebrates the local region and its flavours” according to a review from MiNDFOOD Magazine.
Back in Queenstown today, lets head up Bob’s Peak – the easy way.
- Taking a Gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak is one of Queenstown’s iconic activities providing fun for the whole family. Once at the top visitors can enjoy panoramic views over Queenstown and speeding down the 800 metre purpose built Luge track, a family favourite for all ages.
- Tick zip lining in Queenstown off your bucket list with an eco inspired experience from Ziptrek Ecotours while you are up here. Accompanied by experienced guides the zip lining tour includes whizzing above the tree tops and some interesting eco friendly facts about the surrounding bush land.
- It is also possible to go mountain biking on the challenging terrain of the Queenstown Bike Park from the top of the Gondola. The longest run is 6km and there are over 30 trails to choose from. Bikes can be attached to the Gondola on the way up making getting to the top a piece of cake.
- Staying on at the Queenstown Gondola for dinner, the Stratosfare Restaurant provides diners with buffet style dining experience suitable for all ages and specific dietary requirements. Catch a pre-dinner show from the Kiwi Haka team and stick around after diner for an awesome stargazing experience!
You can’t leave Queenstown without getting out on the Lake, so here we go – old school style.
- The TSS Earnslaw is today’s transportation, head down to the Steamer Wharf on Beach Street for departure and be sure to wear comfortable flat-soled shoes. One of New Zealand’s oldest operating steam ships, the TSS Earnslaw first sailed back in 1912 providing a much needed link between the farming communities dotted around the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the township of Queenstown.
- Cruises last around an hour and a half, and prices start from around $70 per person. Passengers are encouraged to explore all aspects of the over 100 year old boat, enjoy light snacks at the Promenade Café and Bar and take in the stunning scenery as the steamship makes its way around Lake Wakatipu.
- Combine the epic steam ship excursion with a guided Farm Tour, Trail Bike tour or Horseback Riding adventure at Walter Peak Farm and make a day of it. See farming demonstrations, New Zealand farm animals and enjoy a freshly baked afternoon tea. Or experience the personalised trail bike and horse riding tours with experienced guides.
- When you arrive back in Queenstown, take in the local atmosphere for the last time and wander about the numerous shops, bars and restaurants until its time for dinner. Head back to your favourite restaurant for one last meal or try the Jervois Steak House for something a little bit special.