The luge track in Queenstown with stunning views.
Things to do

Adventure activites in Queenstown

Guide by Jo Williams

Last Updated 5 January 2024

You will often hear the phrase “Queenstown, adventure capital of the world” on your visit to New Zealand. And there’s a good reason why it’s so well-known to thrillseekers

Queenstown is the home of many world-first innovations like commercial jet boating and bungy jumping. It’s been a magnet for adventurers and entrepreneurs for many years, and the adventure tourism industry is constantly evolving here.

Today, there are almost endless possibilities for adventure here... As the saying goes, if you can dream it, you can do it. Though I’ve yet to find extreme ironing tours, you can take part in pretty much every other adventure activity in Queenstown.

Of course you can go kayaking, skiing, zip lining, and mountain biking, like you can in any adventure town. But in this article, we’ve tried to highlight the top Queenstown activities and tour providers that are unique to the area, or that have a long history here.


Tandam skydivers freefalling

One of the top adrenaline activities Queenstown has to offer is this tandem skydive above Lake Wakatipu and the phenomenal Southern Lakes.

The literally breath-taking freefall will last for around 45-seconds as you hit speeds of up to 200 kph! Once the chute opens, you can catch your breath and relax on a slow descent back to solid ground.

There are few better places to try this once in a lifetime experience. You can choose between 12,000ft or 15,000ft jumps - the higher you go; the longer you freefall.


A jet boat on the Shotover River

A jet boat on the Shotover River

Reaching speeds of up to 90 km per hour (55 mph), this is one of the most popular Queenstown activities as it’s affordable and accessible for almost everyone.

Enjoy 360-degree spins and great views on the Lake Wakatipu tours, or head down narrow canyons on the tours that include transfers from Queenstown.

Many Queenstown jet boat tours are family friendly, too as they allow kids aged 3+ when accompanied by an adult.

K Jet

This tour will see you flying across Lake Wakatipu in a high-speed jet boat, with hairpin turns along the Kawarau and Shotover River. It’s one of the most popular jet boat tours as it departs from the main pier in central Queenstown and takes just one hour.

  • From NZ$ 129

  • 1 hour

  • Book here

  • Wheelchair accessible

Real NZ

Also operating from the Queenstown Wharf, Real NZ runs the cheapest jet boat tour in Queenstown. There are crazy 360-degree spins, as well as more peaceful highlights like The Remarkables, Cecil Peak and the Kelvin Peninsula.

Shotover Jet

Jump on a shuttle bus from downtown Queenstown to the mighty Shotover. From here, you will enjoy a white-knuckle ride along the Shotover River with some fun tricks and fishtails thrown in for good measure.

With plenty of 5-star reviews, Shotover Jet is one of the most respected companies in Queenstown.

Skippers Canyon Jet

On this tour you will be taken along the infamous Skippers Canyon Road, to take a 30 minute jet boat ride through the narrowest canyons of the Shotover River.

Skippers Canyon is known as the richest gold bearing canyon in the world, so you not only get the boat ride, but also an interesting guided tour into the history of the area.

Dart River in Glenorchy

The half-day Dart River wilderness safari from Glenorchy is the most expensive of these tours but it has lots of inclusions. You will get a scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, a nature walk with a naturalist guide, and of course the jet boating itself.

Hydro Attack - Shark Ride

The shark-shaped Hydro Attack boat on Lake Wakatipu

If none of those are extreme enough for you, why not try the Shark Ride with Hydro Attack?

A semi-submersible that reaches speeds of 80 kph on the water, leaps, side rolls and makes tight g-force turns, then dives below the surface at speeds of up to 40 kph.

It’s a good option to avoid the crowds as it’s just you and the pilot in the torpedo-like vessel. It’s also unique to Queenstown - they are the world’s first commercial operator of the Seabreacher X watercraft.

Shark Rides depart from Queenstown Bay, located on the lakefront in central Queenstown.


Climbing down a waterfall

Canyoning New Zealand offers an amazing half-day canyoning tour of the Gibbston Valley.

If you haven’t tried canyoning before, it involves abseiling, rappelling and sliding down waterfalls, as well as jumping into pools.

It’s a lot of fun, but you need to be moderately fit as there is some climbing and swimming involved

It’s just 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown into Gibbston Valley's wine country, so you will spend the majority of the tour on the activity.

You can also do a full-day Queenstown canyoning tour to Mt Aspiring National Park, taking around 8 hours, including lunch and transfers (NZ$ 450).

4WD and offroading

Jeep by the Arrow River

There are some amazing opportunities for off-roading in Queenstown - just make sure to go with a reputable company as rental vehicles aren’t insured on offroad tracks.

Lord of the Rings 4WD Tour

This half-day Wakatipu Basin 4-wheel drive tour from Queenstown is run by Nomad Safaris, off road specialists that offer trips to Skippers Canyon and the lesser-known Macetown.

On this special LOTR tour you will get to visit prime filming locations from the trilogy, as well as the Remarkables mountain range, Deer Park Heights, and Kawarau Gorge. On a stop in Skippers Canyon, you will also get to mine for gold and ford the Arrow River.

Queenstown ATV Tour

If you prefer to be in the driving seat, jump on a Suzuki sports quad as you’re led around Queenstown's dirt tracks by an expert guide. Test your skills with creek crossings and hill climbs up in the mountains of the Kawarau Gorge.

Bungy jumping

Bungy jumping from Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand

Bungy jumping in Queenstown is an absolute must. The world’s first-ever commercial bungy jump was run here by AJ Hackett in 1987. If you’re going to try it once in your life, this is the place.

Bob’s Peak Ledge Bungy

The most convenient bungy from Queenstown, this 47 metre high bungy on the side of a mountain is located at the top of the Skyline Queenstown. Take the gondola to the top then jump off any way you want on this freestyle bungy.

Kawarau Bridge

At just 43 metres, this is the shortest bungy in Queenstown, but Kawarau Bridge is the original site of the Queenstown bungy jump.

You can dip in the water, go for a full immersion, or even go tandem on this bungy. It’s still easily accessible as it's just a 20 minute drive from Queenstown.

  • From NZ$ 220

  • Self-drive: Allow 1.5 hours/ Bungy Bus: Allow 3.5 hours

  • Book here


Nevis is New Zealand’s tallest bungy (and the 3rd biggest in the world), with a vertigo-inducing height of 134 metres. You’ll get a stomach-churning 8.5 seconds of free-fall on this ginormous bungy! 

It's located on the Nevis River, about 1.5 hours from Queenstown - you can only get there via a tour on a 4WD bus due to its remote location.

Human Catapult

The Nevis Catapult at the Nevis Playground near Queenstown.

Another one for thrill seekers at Nevis is the completely bonkers Human Catapult. Experience up to 3 G's of force as you are propelled 150 metres out into the Nevis Valley on a giant catapult.

You will reach speeds of up to 100 kph in 1.5 seconds, before being pulled back by the bungy line.

As with the bungy, you will need to take the tour bus from Queenstown as the roads aren’t suitable for cars.

Canyon swings

Swinging over the canyon at Nevis Playground, Queenstown

A little less intense than a bungy, but just as exciting, are the canyon swings in Queenstown. Rather than being snapped back by the bungy, you are caught by the momentum of the special rope and cable system suspended between two cliffs.

Shotover Canyon Swing

From a 109 metre high platform, you’ll free fall for 60 metres into the canyon before being caught by the giant rope swing. You can also do a tandem swing with a friend.

You can also do swings at the Ledge (when open), and Nevis (NZ$ 245) - one of the biggest swings in the world with an arc of around 300 metres.


Paragliding with Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain in the background

Paragliding over Queenstown

If you want the epic views of a skydive without the heart-pumping fear, then paragliding is a fantastic alternative. You can choose between a quick trick-filled ride, or a more relaxed glide - just ask your instructor.

Tandem paragliding over Queenstown from Bob’s Peak

G Force Paragliding have been in operation for over 25 years and are the number one name in the sport in Queenstown.

Take-off from the top of Bob’s Peak after catching the Skyline Gondola, then enjoy the views as you soar over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Tours run daily all year round, but they are of course weather dependent.

Coronet Peak paragliding and tandem hang gliding

Sky Trek offers paragliding flights from New Zealand’s highest commercial launch site at 4000 ft up Coronet Peak. They are also the only providers of tandem hang gliding experiences in New Zealand - probably as close to flying like a bird that a human can get.

Queenstown Luge 

The luge track in Queenstown with stunning views.

The luge is the number one favourite family activity in Queenstown. After taking the scenic Queenstown gondola, you can ride back down the mountain in one of the purpose-built little carts, racing family and friends as you go.

Prices start at NZ$ 71 (NZ$ 49 for children) for the gondola and two luge rides, but we’d absolutely recommend getting the unlimited package for NZ$ 99 (NZ$ 69 for children) as you won’t want to stop!

There are also packages for lunch, dinner, night luge, and family discounts. It’s an absolute top thing to do in Queenstown so make sure it’s on your itinerary.

  • From NZ$ 71

  • Plan for an hour - stay for most of the day!

  • Book here

  • The Luge is open to people of all ages and abilities and the Skyline complex is wheelchair-friendly.

Climbing and mountaineering

A man standing at the summit of Ben Lomond surrounded by mountains

Queenstown is a paradise for mountain lovers, with amazing walks up Queenstown Hill and day hikes like the imposing Ben Lomond.

Climbing Queenstown

Climbing Queenstown offers a half-day small group rock climbing tour, no experience is necessary and all equipment is provided.

The location will be chosen according to your ability, so you can enjoy a tailored rock climbing experience looking over the Lake Wakatipu basin.


Also operated by Climbing Queenstown, this guided snowshoeing experience takes you across the Remarkables Mountain Range.

The amazing guides will make sure to get you to the best photo spots in picturesque areas like Jagged Edge Ridge.

This is a great way to avoid the crowds in Queenstown and see a completely different side to the area.

River rafting

Rafting down the Shotover River

Shotover River rafting

This thrilling river adventure has grade 3 to 5 whitewater rapids (depending on rainfall).

You will venture out on a half-day trip by 4x4, from Queenstown through Skippers Canyon to the river.

Real NZ offers this eco-friendly whitewater rafting tour, where you will also raft in darkness through the 550-foot Oxenbridge Tunnel.

Kawarau River rafting

If it’s your first time rafting, or you just fancy something a little more tame, Kawarau River is much more relaxed with grade 2 to 4 rapids.

The Kawarau River has spectacular scenery and is best known as the River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings films, but also contains New Zealand's longest commercially rafted rapid.

On this combi-tour you will also get to enjoy a 40 minute jet boat trip to the start point before your two hour rafting experience on the Kawarau River.

Both include round-trip transfers between Queenstown and the rafting base, professional guides, and all safety equipment.

Riverboarding or river surfing

If you want to get closer to the rapids, you can also bodyboard, or ‘riverboard’, around 12 kilometres down the Kawarau River.

Serious Fun Riverboarding offers this inventive adventure sport, where you can try to surf on standing waves, ride whirlpools and catch underwater currents - why let not being near the sea stop you from surfing in Queenstown?

Parasailing on Lake Wakatipu

Parasailing on Lake Whakatipu in summer.

For one of the least scary adventure activities in Queenstown, head to Lake Wakatipu for a spot of parasailing. Para Flights offer solo, tandem and triple flights so you can enjoy the tranquil views with up to two friends.

You will get to an altitude of around 600 ft as you follow local guides Quinn and Gravy on the Red Dragon boat. It’s one of Queenstown's oldest adventure activities that’s been in operation for over 30 years.