Welcome to the “Adventure Capital of the World”! Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island, has long been a leading destination for the world’s thrill-seeking adventurers. Home to a wide variety of adventure sports and exciting activities (including one of the world’s largest bungee jumps!), Queenstown is known as the place to let off some steam and test your limits.

So what are some of the best heart-racing, jaw-dropping activities you can experience?

We’ve asked some of the TEAN staff about the best things to do in Queenstown. The charming town also has plenty to offer those who prefer to chill rather than keep chasing the next thrill. There’s so much to do that you could return every weekend of your semester abroad and find something new and exciting to do.

Let’s get started…

1. Hike Ben Lomond

Named after a similar peak in Scotland, Ben Lomond is a popular hike in Queenstown. Known for its impressive panoramic views of the city, it can take up to 5-6 hours. Don’t be intimidated though, the hike is relatively gentle.

2. TRek Tiki Trail

Tiki Trail Queenstown
View from the top of the Tiki Trail. Photo by Sarah Bonneson, University of Rhode Island

Love going for a scenic walk but not game for the 5-6 hours it takes for the Ben Lomond track? Try doing the Tiki Trail instead. It’s a 1-2 hour trek which takes you to the top of Bob’s Peak, offering one of the most iconic views of Queenstown. Not feeling the trek down? Grab the gondola, which offers all the same scenic views with less effort.

3. Ride the Skyline Luge

Once you make the trek, or catch the famous gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, you’ll find a plethora of adventure activities. A favorite is the luge – a little kart that you ride down a hill track racing your friends.

4. Try Bungee Jumping

Bungee jump from the Ledge in Queenstown
Photo by: Brian Trainor, University of Maryland, College Park

Queenstown wouldn’t be the Adventure Capital of the World without being home to several bungee jumping locations, including one of the largest bungee jumps on Earth. Nevis Bungy is the most famous and the largest in New Zealand at 134 meters (about 440 feet). For a smaller scale experience, there’s ‘The Ledge’ version, which offers a good jump for beginners.

5. Find the BEST Burgers at Fergburger

The line out the door will quickly give this gourmet burger joint away as the place to be.  If you’re ordering Fergburger, either call up ahead of time and order or go in and order before you’re hungry. The wait is usually about 30 minutes, so download the app or the go to the website that shows the numbers of orders that are ready then you can go and walk around the town or hang out by the lakefront while you wait.

6. Ride New Zealand’s Biggest Swing

You’ve never seen a swing like this! “The Swing” at Nevis, is an extreme sport NZ is famous for where you go solo or tandem and swing across the canyon of the Nevis River Valley. If the idea of bouncing around at the end of a bungee jump is unpleasant to you, the swing may be a better alternative. After your short free fall, the swing will fling you out and back across the canyon.

7. Go Wine Tasting

Best known for its famous Pinot Noir, Queenstown wineries have made a name for themselves around the world thanks to both their high quality wines and stunning surroundings. The Winery, a wine store in central Queenstown is a great place to go for a comprehensive introduction to NZ wine with 80 wines to sample while experiencing a bit of Kiwi sophistication and culture. Peregrine, Gibbston and Amisfield Wineries are also favorites.

8. Cruise Milford Sound

Kayaking Milford Sound, New Zealand
Kayaking Milford Sound. Photo by Tiffany Young, Hartford University

Northwest of Queenstown you’ll find the beautiful fjord Milford Sound. Here you can explore the rivers carved by glaciers and the mountains rising hundreds of feet into the air. All our Kiwi staff recommend taking the cruise tour of this incredible natural wonder. Frequently rated as one of New Zealand’s must-see destinations, the fjord is definitely worth a day of exploration!

9. Queenstown Gardens

Located on a tiny peninsula just south of Queenstown, is the lush and relaxing Queenstown Gardens with a wide variety of New Zealand flora and fauna. Here you can also check out the first permanently marked Frisbee Golf course in New Zealand and play a game with friends. The gardens are fondly referred to as the crown jewel of Queenstown – once you make your way here, you’ll definitely understand why!

10. DEVOUR SOME Patagonia Chocolates

If you’re not too full from your Fergburger, you can take a quick 2-minute walk around the corner to Patagonia Chocolates to indulge in a variety of chocolate bars, coffees, ice creams, or our favorite, the hot chocolate. If you can’t make it during your time in the city, don’t forget to snag a treat in the Queenstown airport on your way out!

11. Find Paradise

Dart River at Paradise
Dart River at Paradise. Photo courtesy of Keith Milne.

Grab a bus from Queenstown for a relaxing ride to beautiful Glenorchy where you will find Paradise, home to one of the most iconic landscapes in New Zealand. Plenty of commercials and movies (yes, Lord of the Rings included) have been filmed here. Even if you aren’t a movie buff, Paradise’s beauty will still leave you breathless with plenty of trekking options.Of course, if you’re in New Zealand during the winter, skiing and snowboarding are also must-do sports. With slopes as close as a 22-minute ride from the city center, it’s easy to pop out of bed and head up for a full day of powdery white peaks.

Whether you’re studying abroad in New Zealand or visiting for our South Island Adventure Excursion, Queenstown is a necessary stop to satisfy your adrenaline cravings.

Originally posted September, 2016. Updated September, 2018.