When planning a trip to New Zealand, you would be remiss if you didn’t include a stop in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Located on the South Island amidst the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is home to a vibrant collection of activities, restaurants, spas, shops and more. We highly recommend spending at least a few days here, but if you only have a day to spare, here are a few suggested itineraries to help you spend 24 hours in Queenstown.
Vintage Streamship in Queenstown
Step 1: Wake up at your leisure in beautiful Queenstown and get ready for an incredible day
Summer or winter, rain or shine, Queenstown is an amazing place to visit. As soon as you walk into the town centre, you’ll feel the energy buzzing around you as tourists and locals alike get ready to take on the day.
Step 2: Grab some breakfast and coffee in town
There are plenty of delicious brunch restaurants and cafés in Queenstown for you to enjoy a quick takeaway breakfast or a tasty sit-down meal. We like Vudu Café and Bespoke Kitchen for sit-down brunches, but if you’re keen to get the day started, grab something quick from Fergbaker.
Step 3: Cruise around the lake
One of the best ways to take in the scenery and really appreciate the beautiful surroundings is on a lake cruise. The TSS Earnslaw is an icon of Queenstown; this vintage steamship is the only hand-fired steamship still operating in the southern hemisphere. While you’re digesting your breakfast, enjoy a leisurely cruise around Lake Wakatipu and experience a part of Queenstown’s history on the TSS Earnslaw.
Step 4: Try an adrenaline activity
When you’re in the adventure capital of the world, it’s basically a requirement for you to partake in an adrenaline sport. Depending on your level of confidence, you may choose to jump off a cliff or a bridge, zipline across a canyon, try out skydiving or calmly glide over the lake. All are great options and will be a memorable part of your New Zealand holiday.
Step 5: Grab a Fergburger for lunch
You haven’t really experienced Queenstown until you’ve had an infamous Fergburger. While the queues can get long at times, it’s all part of the experience! This burger joint is not only the most popular restaurant in Queenstown, but it may also just be the most popular in the country!
Step 6: Quick flight over Milford Sound
While no visit to Queenstown is complete without a stop at Fergburger, the same could be said about Milford Sound for a trip to New Zealand. This stunning fjord has been described as the “eighth wonder of the world,” and when you only have 24 hours in Queenstown, the best way to experience this wonder is with a scenic flyover flight. Enjoy spectacular birds-eye views of the Southern Alps, lakes and, of course, Milford Sound. Bookings are essential and these flights are weather dependent.
Step 7: Go for an afternoon walk
Queenstown is located in close proximity to some of the best day walks in New Zealand. When you’re short on time, we recommend hiking up Queenstown Hill or going for a stroll around Queenstown Gardens. Both are centrally located, but Queenstown Hill involves walking up a hill to reach rewarding views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, while the Queenstown Gardens is flat and leisurely.
Step 8: Enjoy happy hour
Queenstown is well-known for its vibrant nightlife, so if you’re not ready for a nap at this point, it’s time to grab a drink at happy hour! Rooftop bars are always a great option, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the many bars and restaurants in the town centre and lakefront.
Step 9: Relax in the Onsen hot pools
The Onsen Hot Pools are a popular attraction near Queenstown as they offer private hot tubs with gorgeous views over the Shotover River. Treat yourself to a soak and maybe even a massage. The Onsen hot pools are the perfect way to unwind after an action-packed day. Make sure you book in advance as spaces fill up quickly.
Step 10: Dinner and drinks
After a little R&R at Onsen, it’s time for dinner and a night out on the town. There are plenty of dining options from fine dining to casual takeaway. Some top choices include Rata Restaurant, Blue Kanu, Madam Woo and Botswana Butchery. Round off the night with a nightcap at any of the bars and clubs in the town centre – if you’re feeling the party vibe, it won’t be hard to find!
There’s no shortage of things to do in Queenstown, so it’s fairly easy to have a packed itinerary if you only have a day in town. We hope this guide was helpful for you to plan your 24 hours in Queenstown; keep in mind that you can always shuffle things around and add or remove activities based on your tastes. Have fun!
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