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My heart longs for the mountains, glacial lakes, and adventure around every corner. If you throw a dart at a map, the chances of it landing on New Zealand are slim to none because in reality, New Zealand is a small blip in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. In my humble opinion, the harder to get to, the better.
Things to Do in Queenstown With Kids
That last part doesn’t always resonate when kids are involved, but the comfort zone has never really been my thing so we packed our bags, our toddler and our three month old, and headed on a long journey to the southern hemisphere. While it was beyond challenging (tune into episode 4 of The Road Les Traveled podcast for the nitty gritty stressful details), I think back on our first day in Queenstown. The sun was shining, the scenery looked like a green screen, the jet-lag was starting to wear off, and suddenly the long travel day with kids was worth it. After such an experience, we were so happy to check into this stunning Vrbo in Queenstown. It had every amenity you could want from outdoor patio to all kitchen appliances to washer/dryer to views around each and every corner. I’ll never forget this living room where Lily met her Aussie family for the first time…
Now that we’re traveling more and more as a family, I notice details I’ve never seen before. Playgrounds, parks, pools, and the list continues. I’ve loved seeing Queenstown through their eyes this month! If you’re in this neck of the woods, check out these family-friendly activities loved by Kiwis and visitors alike.
Queenstown Activities for Everyone
Going up! Enjoy a 220 degree view of Queenstown while heading up to Bob’s Peak. There’s a plethora of things to do up here from dining to mountain biking to guided walks and other adrenaline-pumping activities like the luge!
This coal-powered ship set sail during the same year of the Titanic! I loved cruising Lake Wakatipu, learning all about the history of this boat, and traveling back in time through the original engine room and on board. Sign up for the farm fresh BBQ for dinner at Walter Peak Farm and be sure to catch the sheep shearing demo after wandering the gardens, gift shop, and farm.
The Queenstown Gardens are located only a short 5-minute walk from the center of town and within them, you’ll find the playground, gardens, ponds, ducks, and even the Queenstown Ice Arena.
Queenstown Lakefront Bathhouse Playground
What playground dreams are made of. Situated on the waterfront, this takes the cake for best playground views! Mom & Dad can even grab a drink nearby at The Bathhouse.
The Kiwi bird is a symbol of New Zealand, and the center is a 5-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary that’s family-owned and operated. Get up close and personal with the nation’s beloved creature.
I love stopping here when in town. Owner Nick is so knowledgeable about bees, honey and everything in between. Kids and adults can make all sorts of honey crafts, and stop by all the nearby shops like The Barn as you come in!
Queenstown Day Trips
If you didn’t visit Milford Sound did you even visit New Zealand?! This wonder of the world deserves to be ooh’d and ahhhh’d over, and why not arrive by scenic flight while you’re at it? Fly from Queenstown to Milford Sound and enjoy a spectacular view of the mountains, lakes and waterfalls of Fiordland National Park.
Explore Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, gawk at the beauty of Lake Pukaki, and marvel at the amazing views of Hooker Lake, Hooker Glacier, and Mount Cook!
Hike on New Zealand’s highest glacier and enjoy panoramic views of Mount Cook on a helicopter flight. Must be 12 years or over.
Fly over the Southern Alps, home to over 3,000 small glaciers. Visit Franz Josef Glacier on the western face of Aoraki/ Mt Cook or the Tasman Glacier on the east side. Must be 12 years or over.
Visit the charming historic town of Arrowtown, located just a short 15 minute drive from Queenstown. Explore the gold mining history, enjoy a walk along the river, shop the boutique stores, indulge in Arrowtown’s The Remarkable Sweet Shop and visit the Lakes District Museum.
Take a day trip to Wanaka, a beautiful lakeside town known for its stunning landscapes. Visit Puzzling World, go for a hike, or relax on the shores of Lake Wanaka. If time allows, I would spend hours shopping the amazing boutiques and exploring the lake front cafe scene.
Queenstown Activities for Those A Little Older
The unique, breathtaking white water ride and adrenaline rush you’ll never forget! Must be 5 years or older.
The Arrow River is just two minutes from town – for $5 you can grab a gold pan and try your luck to mine gold from the river as many, many miners before us have successfully done. A fun way to honor the roots of this gold mining town and to this day there is gold to be found!
I’ve done this trail three times now and it only gets better and better! If the electric bike feels intimidating, worry not because the kick of electric energy is just enough to make the small hills feel easy but you can always turn the E off. The Arrow River Bridges Trail is nothing short of gorgeous, all the way to the historic Kawarau Bungy Bridge (approx. 12 kms). Anyone in the family fancy a jump?! Must be 5 years or older to bike. Must be 10 years old to jump.
Part go kart, part toboggan. The race track is located on Bob’s Peak at the top of the gondola. Must be two years old to ride with an adult.
An adventure safari packed with breathtaking scenery, thrilling 4WD action whilst discovering LOTR filming locations. Visit the filming locations of Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), Gladden Fields, the Ford of Bruinen and more. Travel an historic gold mining road, following the Arrow River, stop for an opportunity to try your hand at gold panning.
Queenstown Rain Plan Activities
One thing remains constant all over the world: you can’t predict the weather. Queenstown sees it all, so when it does have some rain, fear not! There are plenty of inside activities for the kids from Highlands Game Over Go Karts to King Pin Bowling to the Site Trampoline Park and of course, The Remarkable Sweet Shop. Talk about a kid’s dreamworld! Floor-to-ceiling shelves of candy line the walls. Enter if you dare… for better or for worse!