Known for its alpine scenery and adventure sports, Queenstown is New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination.
The bustling town is set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is well-equipped for visitors - Queenstown’s population triples during peak season. Due to its popularity, Queenstown can get busy at certain times of the year, and it can be well worth booking key aspects of your trip in advance. Here is some of the essential information you need to plan your trip to the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Shotover River in Autumn
Queenstown is a year-round destination, however July - September is best if you want to hit the slopes while you’re here, although it’s a very busy time of year. The summer months are also popular, with warm days, perfect for water sports and picnics by the lake. Spring and Autumn offer moderate temperatures (and some rain), good hiking and cycling conditions and views with snow-capped mountains. For a quieter trip, visit in May and June, with cooler weather and the first hints of snow on the mountains.
Driving along the Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka
While the centre of Queenstown is very walkable, renting a car will give you the most flexibility, allowing you to explore the surrounding region. A 4-wheel drive isn’t necessary unless you’re planning to drive up a mountain in winter.
If you prefer not to drive, it is possible to take shuttle buses up the mountains and use the public bus service to get to Frankton and Arrowtown. There are also day trips and tours available for various activities, and a good bike network connects Queenstown with Arrowtown and Gibbston Valley.
There are more places to stay in Queenstown than you may realise at first glance. Stay near the lively atmosphere of central Queenstown with its bustling shops and eateries or opt for the serene beauty of Kelvin Heights, renowned for its golf course and panoramic views. Franklin gives you easy access to the airport and supermarkets, while you can escape from everyday life at Lake Hayes or enjoy the convenience of staying near the ski fields in Arthurs Point or Jacks Point. Do your research and pick the perfect base for your trip.
An Air New Zealand plane at Queenstown Airport
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's major tourist destinations and getting there is fairly easy. Queenstown Airport is well serviced by flights from throughout the country as well as international flights from Australia. The airport is situated in Frankton, only 10-minutes from central Queenstown by car. There are also frequent buses connecting the airport and the town centre. While the flight over the Southern Alps is beautiful, driving to Queenstown can take you through some of the loveliest parts of the country. Queenstown is a scenic five-hour drive from Christchurch and is around 3.5 hours from Dunedin.