Queenstown is New Zealand’s most popular holiday destination–for good reason. With a wealth of activities on offer and a backdrop of majestic scenery, Queenstown truly has it all. But with so much to choose from, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Here we have outlined everything you need to know when booking a Queenstown holiday package, from top experiences to logistics such as where to stay and how to get around.
From backpackers to high-end travellers, from adrenaline junkies to families with young children, Queenstown caters for every type of visitor. No matter how long you stay, your time in Queenstown is sure to prove rewarding.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to make the most of your Queenstown holiday.
Table of Contents
- Queenstown Package Highlights
- Queenstown Regional Highlights
- Plan your stay in Queenstown
- The Best Things to Do in Queenstown
- Queenstown Holiday Packages
- Tips for planning your Queenstown holiday package
Queenstown Package Highlights
No matter what draws you to Queenstown, you can easily fill your time with the highlights that most appeal to you. Pick and choose from dozens of activities on offer to craft your ideal Queenstown package.
Most Queenstown highlights fit under these main categories:
- Adrenaline activities
- Scenery and wilderness adventures
- Central Otago wineries
- Lord of the Rings filming destinations
- Luxury travel
However, Queenstown abounds with more unusual offerings. For instance, this is the only place in New Zealand where you can enjoy a historic steamship cruise.
As you gather inspiration for your Queenstown holiday, read on to discover the wide range of experiences on offer.
Known as the “birthplace of bungy,” Queenstown has long attracted thrillseekers from around the world. Combining epic scenery with serious thrills, Queenstown’s adrenaline scene offers many of the top New Zealand adventures.
Here you can dare yourself to conquer:
- Bungy jumping
- Canyon swings
Some of the most iconic options in Queenstown include the Shotover Jet, the Nevis Canyon Swing, and the historic Kawarau Bridge Bungy.
Scenery & Wilderness Adventures
Surrounded by the Southern Alps, nestled beside the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown offers a wealth of outdoor experiences. Whether you wish to view the breathtaking surrounds on a helicopter flight or get hands-on with outdoor sports, the wilderness around Queenstown is sure to delight.
From the craggy, forested peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park to the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand. The town centre overlooks the iconic Remarkables Range, while the turquoise Shotover River cuts through a stunning gorge nearby.
To immerse yourself in this wilderness grandeur, choose from a range of options:
- Helicopter flights
- The Skyline Gondola
- Scenic lake cruises
- 4WD tours
- Stargazing tours
Helicopter flights open up access to a vast range of wilderness terrain, stretching west into Fiordland National Park and north toward Mt Aspiring National Park. Flights from Queenstown offer a bird’s-eye view of otherwise inaccessible terrain.
Queenstown is a hiking mecca, serving as a base for three of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks: the Routeburn Track, the Milford Track, and the Kepler Track. Coaches shuttles hikers daily between Queenstown and each trailhead. In addition, rewarding day hikes such as Ben Lomond offer panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin.
However, Queenstown caters to more than just hikers. Outdoor adventurers can enjoy:
- Whitewater rafting
- Wilderness “funyak” (inflatable kayak) safaris
- Mountain biking
Explore dramatic river gorges, lush forested valleys, hanging glaciers, and craggy peaks.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Come winter, Queenstown transforms into a buzzing mountain resort town. With two ski fields at its doorstep and two others within driving distance, Queenstown is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier ski destination.
The four Queenstown ski fields include:
- The Remarkables
- Coronet Peak
- Treble Cone
Combine days on the slopes with evenings sampling the vibrant après-ski scene. On top of that, breathtaking views from the slopes add to the excitement of a Queenstown ski holiday.
Central Otago Wineries
New Zealand’s southernmost wine region is renowned for producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, as well as a range of vivid white wines. Because of the extreme climate, vintners once believed Central Otago was unsuitable for wine production. But with careful site selection, wineries have flourished. These days, the distinctive subregions produce varied wines of great intensity.
The Central Otago wine region covers a large area around Queenstown, Wanaka, and Cromwell. However, most wineries in this region are concentrated in the Gibbston Valley of Vines, just 20 minutes outside of Queenstown. Visit cellar doors to sample premium vintages, or book a wine tour for a more comprehensive experience.
In addition, the wineries in the Gibbston Valley beckon cyclists riding the Gibbston Wine Trail.
Lord of the Rings Filming Destinations
Fans of Middle Earth should not miss a visit to Queenstown. Here you will find some of the most recognisable filming locations, from towering mountains to dramatic river valleys.
The best way to explore the filming destinations around Queenstown is with a Lord of the Rings tour. Some destinations are hard to find, while others are tricky to recognise without film stills to reference. In addition, guides enhance the experience with behind-the-scenes tidbits and local filming stories. Moreover, many guides starred as extras during the filming!
Top Lord of the Rings scenes around Queenstown include:
- The River Anduin
- Dimrill Dale
- Ithilien Camp
- The Ford of Bruinen
- The Misty Mountains
We offer Lord of the Rings holiday package options including Queenstown LOTR tours for those who wish to visit filming locations around the country.
Queenstown Luxury Escapes
Queenstown boasts many of New Zealand’s top luxury hotels and lodges. Luxury lodges offer a truly indulgent experience, with gourmet multi-course meals, extensive facilities, and private, picturesque locations. Queenstown luxury lodges such as Matakauri Lodge and Blanket Bay have garnered world renown for their exquisite facilities and attentive service. However, guests pay for the privilege of staying at such exclusive properties–rooms sell for upwards of NZD$2000 a night.
In addition to luxury hotels and lodges, Queenstown caters for its most discerning visitors with a range of exclusive tours. Sample extravagant helicopter flights, luxury lake cruises, and private wine tours. Furthermore, helicopter transport enhances and elevates many Queenstown experiences. Examples include heli hiking, heli picnics, heli wine tours, heli fishing, heli biking, and heli skiing.
Queenstown Regional Highlights
In addition to the countless experiences on offer nearby, Queenstown serves as a convenient base for visiting nearby regions. These include:
Some of these destinations lie within easy reach of Queenstown. Meanwhile, Fiordland National Park takes a full day to visit with coaches traveling to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound.
The historic gold mining town of Arrowtown is a New Zealand treasure. The main street is packed with heritage buildings housing boutique local shops, restaurants, and cafes. Meanwhile, the surrounding region boasts picturesque walking trails and some of New Zealand’s best fall colours.
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown, Arrowtown is a must-see with any Queenstown holiday package. Allow half a day to visit museums, stroll the charming main street, taste wines at nearby vineyards, and indulge in a meal at one of the excellent restaurants or cafes.
Situated at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is one of the most beautiful regions in New Zealand. Here you will find braided rivers, hanging glaciers, towering peaks, and lush native forest. However, most of this scenery lies beyond the tiny settlement. Venture into the wilderness beyond Glenorchy with the Dart River Jet or a Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tour, or tackle the Routeburn Track for three days of breathtaking views.
If you decide to visit Glenorchy for an independent half-day excursion, be sure to plan an outing to make the most of your visit. For example, walk the first section of the Routeburn Track to enjoy great views on the drive to the trailhead and a stroll through atmospheric beech forest.
Finally, be sure to stop at the Bennett’s Bluff lookout on the drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy. Though this lookout is not signposted, it’s obvious as the first place where views open up toward the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Take in sweeping panoramas of mountain peaks clustered around river valleys and the turquoise headwaters of Lake Wakatipu.
Just an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Wanaka is an outdoor paradise offering a range of restaurants, walking trails, and attractions. Most iconic among these is Puzzling World, an illusional attraction offering hours of entertainment for all ages.
The drive to Wanaka is one of the highlights of any visit. Traveling over the Crown Range, the road gains elevation quickly, with several viewpoints along the way overlooking the Wakatipu Basin. On the other side of the pass, the small settlement of Cardrona sits at the valley floor. You may wish to stop at the Cardrona Distillery to sample locally produced spirits.
And for the return trip to Queenstown, you have the option to make a loop through Cromwell and the Kawarau Gorge. Stop to sample fresh fruit from the orchards around Cromwell and visit wineries in the Gibbston Valley of Vines. To your left, the Kawarau River flows through a deep, rugged gorge.
Fiordland National Park is a land of extremes. Home to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, Fiordland boasts near-vertical mountainsides, lush temperate rainforest, and thundering waterfalls. In addition, a diverse array of native species calls this region home, from penguins and dolphins to keas (mountain parrots).
Even though the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is long, most travellers choose to visit Fiordland as a day trip out of Queenstown. However, we recommend booking coach transport as part of your tour rather than driving yourself. Many of our Queenstown package deals include a Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound cruise leaving out of Queenstown by scenic coach.
The coach journey to Milford Sound is as much of a highlight as the fiord itself. Along the way, enjoy commentary from your driver as well as short walks to viewing points. In addition, take in staggering vertical scenery through the glass viewing roof on your specially designed coach.
Plan your stay in Queenstown
Whether you plan to visit Queenstown as part of a longer New Zealand holiday package, or you want to focus your entire stay on this charming destination, we cover everything you need to know.
How many days do you need in Queenstown?
We recommend spending at least three nights (two full days) in Queenstown. This allows for one full-day activity plus time to explore nearby highlights.
However, you can easily fill a week with Queenstown activities. Whether you want to pack your schedule with active adventures or spend your time relaxing and indulging in the best of Queenstown, the region offers enough variety to justify an extended visit.
Do you need a car to get around Queenstown?
If you choose to stay in central accommodation, you can easily get by without a car in Queenstown. This is because most activities include accommodation pick-up or shuttles from a convenient downtown location. In addition, inexpensive buses travel regularly between the town centre and Arrowtown. Supershuttle provides a convenient Queenstown airport shuttle with departure times coordinated to match flights.
However, if you want to explore further afield, a car offers much more flexibility. Having your own transport also opens up many more possibilities of where to stay. For example, some of the properties with the best views are perched along the lakeshore just before Queenstown–slightly too far to walk, yet an easy drive from the town centre.
Is Queenstown walkable?
The town centre is easily walkable. In fact, since parking is limited, walking is usually the easiest way to explore Queenstown. The downtown covers just a few blocks right beside the lake.
On foot you can access countless restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as the Skyline Gondola, the Kiwi Birdlife Park, and the Queenstown Gardens.
Where are the best places to stay in Queenstown?
The best places to stay in Queenstown are:
- The town centre
- Arrowtown and the surrounds
- Along the road leading into Queenstown
If you book with New Zealand Travel Organiser, your Queenstown holiday package will most likely include central accommodation. This provides convenience and means you don’t have to deal with traffic during your stay.
Top central Queenstown accommodation options include:
- Blue Peaks Apartments
- Garden Court Suites & Apartments
- Alexis Motel & Apartments
- The Glebe
- Hotel St Moritz
- Sofitel Queenstown
- Peppers Beacon
- Hulbert House Queenstown
Ranging from 4-star motel suites to boutique luxury hotels, these central properties offer easy access to the best of Queenstown.
Accommodation in Arrowtown and the Surrounds
If you want to stay somewhere more peaceful and secluded, Arrowtown and the surrounds offer several notable properties. Dine in Arrowtown if you prefer not to make the drive into Queenstown, and enjoy a slower pace of life away from the nonstop bustle of downtown Queenstown.
Top accommodation options in Arrowtown and the surrounds include:
- Millbrook Resort
- Arrowfield Apartments
- Stoneridge Estate
Along the Queenstown – Frankton Road
Though not quite within walking distance of downtown Queenstown, properties along the Queenstown – Frankton Road have many benefits. For one, they offer some of the best lake views in town. And for another, many offer spacious luxury suites.
Top accommodation options along the Queenstown – Frankton road include:
- The Rees Hotel
- Swiss-Belsuites Pounamu Queenstown
- Oaks Club Queenstown
Frankton is home to a few airport hotels. In addition, the beautifully appointed Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown are located just outside Frankton. These lakefront hotels offer beautiful views and a peaceful location.
And for skiers who wish to ski mainly at The Remarkables, Frankton is just 30 minutes from the base building.
Additional Queenstown Accommodation Locations
A few very special properties are tucked away in different locations around Queenstown. For example, Matakauri Lodge sits on the lakeshore nestled in native bush just 10 minutes from downtown Queenstown. Meanwhile, Blanket Bay commands a stunning position in Glenorchy, 45 minutes up the road from Queenstown.
When is the best time to visit Queenstown?
For a summer visit, March is the best time to see Queenstown. Enjoy the best weather of the year with fewer crowds than January and February.
If you plan to ski, August is the best time to visit Queenstown. August brings the region’s most reliable snow cover, plus warmer weather and lessening crowds.
And if you want to see the fall colours, especially in Arrowtown, plan your visit in mid-April.
The Best Things to Do in Queenstown
If you still don’t know how to fill your Queenstown package, spend your time sampling these iconic activities. Most visitors try to check off at least one of these must-do experiences during their stay.
The best things to do in Queenstown include:
- TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Walter Peak High Country Farm Experience
- Shotover Jet
- Skyline Gondola & Luge
- Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound Cruises by Scenic Coach
TSS Earnslaw Cruise & Walter Peak Farm
The TSS Earnslaw is a Queenstown icon. Throughout the day, this historic steamship makes trips between the town wharf and Walter Peak High Country Farm.
At Walter Peak, choose from a diverse range of experiences including farm tours, afternoon tea, and a gourmet BBQ lunch or dinner. The classic option is the lunch or dinner–the food is superb, and the farm tour after the meal is always entertaining.
This is the perfect experience for children of all ages–though most families opt for the lunch tour, as the dinner tour returns at 10 pm.
New Zealand’s most iconic jet boat experience, the Shotover Jet races through the stunning Shotover Canyons. Combining pristine natural scenery with adrenaline, this action-packed 30-minute tour is easy to fit in any Queenstown visit. Skim past rocky cliff walls and hold tight for the signature 360-degree spins!
And it’s not just adrenaline junkies who love the Shotover Jet. This is a fairly tame introduction to Queenstown’s adrenaline scene, perfect for any travellers who want to add a bit of excitement to their stay.
Skyline Gondola & Luge
Take the classic gondola ride up to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic views over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and The Remarkables. While you’re at the top, why not have a go at the Skyline Luge? These gravity-powered carts hurtle down exciting tracks–fun for all ages.
At the top of the Skyline Gondola, you can also enjoy a meal to remember at Stratosfare Restaurant. Enjoy sweeping views over Queenstown while you indulge in decadent cuisine.
Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound Cruises
If you don’t have time to stay in Te Anau, be sure to add a visit to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound to your Queenstown package. These full-day tours reveal one of the most dramatic and unique regions of New Zealand. Every step of the way, the journey reveals new wonders, from the Devil’s Staircase alongside Lake Wakatipu to the magnificent fiords themselves.
For an even more rewarding experience, book an overnight cruise and make the most of your stay in Fiordland.
Queenstown Holiday Packages
Are you ready to start planning your visit to Queenstown? These holiday packages including a stay in Queenstown are a great starting point. Whether you hope to focus on Queenstown for a luxury weekend getaway or visit at the end of a two-week holiday, these itineraries showcase the best of Queenstown.
Choose from our most popular Queenstown holiday package deals or use these as a starting point to design your own itinerary. If you book through New Zealand Travel Organiser, we will help customise your holiday package to match exactly what you are looking for.
These are the most popular holiday packages including a stay in Queenstown.
7 Day Loop the South Island Holiday Package
Hitting the highlights in just a week, the 7 Day Loop the South Island Holiday Package loops from Christchurch down to Queenstown and back. This fast-packed itinerary follows both sides of the Southern Alps, with iconic highlights such as the TranzAlpine Train.
This itinerary only includes two nights in Queenstown. Start your stay off on a high with the Shotover Jet. After that, enjoy a full-day trip to Milford Sound to see the magnificent fiord on a nature cruise.
10 Day Deep South Holiday Package
Spend time exploring the hidden wonders of the South Island with the 10 Day Deep South Holiday Package. This popular itinerary makes a loop south of Queenstown into Fiordland National Park and all the way to Stewart Island.
With two nights in Queenstown plus time to discover Fiordland from the convenient base of Te Anau, this itinerary travels at a relaxed pace. Perfect for travellers who love wilderness, wildlife, and getting off the beaten track.
10 Day South Island Discovery Coach Tour Package
The 10 Day South Island Discovery Coach Tour is ideal for travellers who want to make the most of the diverse options on offer in Queenstown. With minimal time on the coach and plenty of time for sightseeing, this is a rewarding and justifiably popular tour package.
Finish your time in New Zealand with five exciting nights in Queenstown. During your stay, venture to the spectacular nearby regions with activities such as:
- The Dart River Jet Wilderness Safari
- Skippers Canyon 4WD Safari
- Milford Sound Nature Cruise leaving out of Queenstown by scenic coach
14 Day Iconic New Zealand Holiday Package
With a domestic flight between the North and South Islands, the 14 Day Iconic New Zealand Holiday Package ticks off all the major highlights. From Hobbiton to the Waitomo Caves, from Milford Sound to Franz Josef Glacier, this itinerary covers the most iconic destinations in New Zealand.
This includes a three-night stay in Queenstown, along with a Milford Sound Nature Cruise departing out of Queenstown. A free day in Queenstown allows you to choose from the vast array of activities on offer.
14 Day New Zealand Family Holiday Package
The 14 Day New Zealand Family Holiday Package is the classic New Zealand family tour. Traveling from Auckland down to Queenstown, this holiday package hits the best family-friendly highlights along the way.
In Queenstown, this includes the TSS Earnslaw Cruise, Walter Peak Farm Tour, and Dinner plus the Shotover Jet. Perfect for children of almost all ages, this itinerary travels at a relaxed pace while maximising varied experiences.
14 Day Lord of the Rings & Hobbit Holiday Package
If you want to see Middle Earth in real life, the 14 Day Lord of the Rings & Hobbit Holiday Package is the tour you shouldn’t miss. Combining the best of New Zealand with the country’s most iconic film destinations, this holiday package captivates travellers.
During your stay in Queenstown, embark on two Lord of the Rings location tours. First, take a 4WD safari around iconic locations spread through the Wakatipu Basin. After that, venture into Isengard on the Dart River Jet Wilderness Safari.
Finally, end your four-night stay in Queenstown with an unforgettable Doubtful Sound cruise.
Queenstown Luxury Long Weekend Escape
For a more indulgent Queenstown holiday package, our New Zealand Luxury Escapes brand offers a range of Queenstown deals. Most popular is the Luxury Long Weekend Escape, which combines a 4-night luxury lodge stay with countless premium experiences. Delight in a Central Otago wine tour, a 60-minute massage, a Spirit of Queenstown cruise, and a range of gourmet meals including daily breakfast and a wine and cheese platter.
And, as long as borders remain closed, this luxury weekend deal is available at an unbelievably low domestic price.
Tips for planning your Queenstown holiday package
Ready to start planning your Queenstown holiday package? Here are a few details to keep in mind as you settle on the specifics.
Plan any Christmas or New Year’s visits carefully
Christmas and New Year’s are the most popular times to stay in Queenstown. Because of this, you have several details to keep in mind if you hope to visit around this time.
1. Accommodation books out far in advance.
If you want to spend the holiday season in Queenstown, you should look at booking by April at the very latest. After this, availability becomes very limited and prices rise exponentially.
2. Many properties impose minimum lengths of stay.
Over the holiday season, you may need to schedule a longer stay in Queenstown to accommodate minimum night stays. Most properties require between 3 and 5 nights for a holiday period booking.
3. Scheduling can be tricky with check-in and check-out restrictions.
Many accommodation operators don’t allow check-ins or check-outs on certain holiday dates–especially Christmas, Boxing Day, and January 1st and 2nd. Therefore, the three-night periods that accommodate these restrictions (December 24th – 27th and December 31st – January 3rd) are the first to book out. You will likely need to re-shuffle your holiday package to comply with Queenstown accommodation restrictions.
4. Some activities and attractions are closed on December 25th and 26th.
While certain activities operate 365 days a year, others close for Christmas. This is where a longer stay in Queenstown could prove helpful–if your must-do activities are not operating on Christmas or Boxing Day, you may need the extra time to fit them in.
If you book your stay in Queenstown through New Zealand Travel Organiser, we will tailor your holiday package around restrictions.
Book your stay well in advance
Even if you’re not travelling over the Christmas holidays, be sure to book your visit to Queenstown far in advance. Accommodation fills up quickly, especially over the summer period and event weekends. And if you wait, you will end up paying more for lower-quality or less central accommodation.
Take advantage of free activity shuttles and accommodation pick-up where possible
If you are staying in downtown Queenstown, you can use free shuttle transport to reach almost every activity in the area. This saves you the hassle of navigating and dealing with traffic.
Fly direction into Queenstown if possible
Queenstown International Airport offers flights to a number of countries. Especially if you are travelling from Australia, a direct flight into Queenstown cuts down on the inconvenience of transferring elsewhere in New Zealand. The international airport is located just 15 minutes from downtown Queenstown.
Prepare for any weather
Even in summer, Queenstown can experience below-freezing temperatures at night. Meanwhile, some winter days are surprisingly balmy, especially in August.
Pack warm layers no matter what time of year you plan to travel. In addition, a raincoat is a must, especially if you plan to visit Fiordland during your stay.