Queenstown New Zealand, 5 Must-do Family Activities.

Staci S. Wright

From Bungy to Quirky…for everyone in the family.

This is the view from a public car park in Queenstown! Read tips for location.

We all know that Queenstown aka ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, has tons of activities to offer the adrenaline thrill-seekers.  But how about for families with young primary kids like our Buddy? As it turns out, lots! Here’s sharing our 5 must-do activities for families all in the little town called Queenstown!

  1. Shotover Jet Queenstown (https://www.shotoverjet.com/):  The iconic thrill ride in Queenstown that’s been around since 1965!  David did this with his late Dad when they visited NZ 36 years ago! Imagine that!

The ride is a high speed boat ride that skims through the Shotover River pass the Edith Cavell Bridge with the occasional 360 spins plus high-speed dash across Shotover Valley. It is scenic yet thrilling at the same time!

As this is a high speed ride, there are the usual safety prerequisites. Aside from that, it is an absolute thrill made better by good and warm service from start till end.

Tip: We opted to purchase the videos which was shot during our actual ride itself. An excellent souvenir!

David did up this composite video of our own footage along with the footage we purchased from Shotover Jet. This was an exceptional experience!

2. AJ Hackett Bungy NZ ( https://www.bungy.co.nz/ ):  This needs no introduction – the founder and birthplace of the world-famous Bungy jump!  This was not on our original itinerary as there’s AJ Hackett in Sentosa but we opted for this when David’s skydiving session got cancelled due to inclement weather and we were very happy we ventured to do this.

We were thrilled that the place offers more than is just Bungy jumping. Among the non-Bungy options is  the Zip Ride that zips 130m across with the beautiful turquoise river below at 60 km/h!  You can even choose the type of tandem position you want to zip in!

In fact, that was what the whole family tried for starters. Buddy did not meet the prerequisite height for Bundy jump while David, who has a bad knee from a previous injury, decided to opt out as he doesn’t want to conjure up an old knee injury and affect the self-drive holiday (he’s our main driver!). I’m just happy taking videos and photos! So, it was apt that the Zip Ride allowed us to enjoy these as a family with the amazing scenery accompanied by the wintry breeze. We had a blast!

Finally, the daughter did the Bungy jump and, no surprise, it was an absolute thrill for her! We were so proud of her for daring to take the plunge without battering an eyelid!

Tip: The AJ Hackett experiences are largely all-weather and if you drive, you can actually drive straight to the Kawarau bridge site to pay, register and go for the activities.

Check out how thrilling our experience at A J Hackett NZ was from our video here:

3. Skyline Queenstown : (https://www.skyline.co.nz/en/queenstown/ )

We love the Skyline Luge experience we have here in Sentosa which is why this was a ‘must-try’ for us. Just like the Skyline Luge in Sentosa, this is absolutely family friendly and comes complete with all the thrills of just not one but TWO 900 metres track filled with tight corners, tunnels and dips but yet safe. 

We particularly love the stunning scenery of snow-topped alps against the wintry blue skies zipping by us as we laughed and luged down the hills together.  The cherry on top of the cake is certainly the chairlift which we took after every luge ride down.  The chairlift allowed us to take a breather from the adrenaline and admire the breath-taking sights of the Remarkable Alpine Range in Queenstown.  Once is truly never enough!

Have a look at our ride in this video!

4. Drive to Coronet Peak and Lake Hayes.

If you have the use of a car and want some family photos taken with a glorious background,  then consider driving to Lake Hayes as well as Coronet Peak for these calendar-worthy shots. Both these places are about 10 to 15 minutes of each other and well-within 30 mins from Queenstown.

Coronet Peak (https://www.coronetpeak.co.nz/ ) is a ski resort that offers a commanding view of Queenstown both in winter and summer.  Aside from skiing, the view going up there is perfect for that family photo or trip photos complete with a breathtaking scenery no studio shoot can replicate.

Tip: Do note that if you’re driving up in winter, you have to don the snow chains on your front wheel for safety reasons. Rent the snow chains from your car rental companies.

Lake Hayes ( https://www.myguidequeenstown.com/regionalinfo/lake-hayes)

Fire up your online search and look for ‘Lake Hayes, New Zealand’ and chances are you’ll see some stunning scenery jumping right out your screen.  Now imagine seeing these gorgeous scenery in real life. 

Such is the beauty of Lake Hayes, a small lake about 15 minutes from Queenstown yet seems worlds’ away! The lake graces a small local private community where we saw traces of local life such as kayaks, row boats and a little swing. There is a small family of ducks and if you’re lucky, you can catch them bobbing up and down the lake on a quiet morning.  When the waters are still, it gives an excellent mirror image. It makes for an excellent picturesque lake that exudes natural beauty and serenity.

5. Quirky Letterboxes!

We discovered this enroute back to Queenstown from our drive to Coronet Peak.  Situated close to Shotover River at Arthur’s Point is Atley Road where a row of letter boxes owned by the residents adorn the street.

From a Beer Keg to Golfing Lawn, residents customized their own letterboxes to reflect their interests and passions then line them all along the road to give this little lane a quirky sight that is Insta-worthy! Oh and look out for that world-famous Beagle on top of his dog house!

Have a look at our visit to the Quirky Letterboxes here:

Scenic Lake Hayes seems right out of the calendar!

More Tips!

Queenstown is certainly full of interesting activities for families.  Here are more tips for your trip:

  • Book Early: Many attractions and activities in Queenstown are very popular. Get ahead of the queue and book from the comfort of your home even before the trip begins! In fact, you may even enjoy some attractive discounts too. We booked our experiences with KLOOK.
  • Snow Chains: If you are travelling in Winter (regardless if it’s early winter or otherwise), do loan the snow chains and read up on how to install them.  Even if it doesn’t snow when you drive, you will never know when you’ll need them to manoeuvre through a recently snowed terrain safely.
  • Parking: Queenstown is a small but popular town. Unfortunately, car park within the town area is very scarce. If you are lucky, you may get a free parking that lasts up to 120 minutes (very rare!) .  Be prepared to park at a larger outdoor car parks a short distance away then walk to your destination in the town.   Be warned that parking costs may not be cheap!
  • One-Mile Car Park:  Talking about public car parks, here’s one to consider! When in Queenstown, Google ‘One Mile Car Park’ and it will lead you to this large car park which is about 15 minutes walk to downtown Queenstown.  This carpark offers a very good view of the lake and the alps that surround Queenstown.  Great spot for that family photo!
  • Visit ‘Middle Earth’ at Glenorchy: The famed trilogy was filmed in several locations across New Zealand and one of them is right here in Queenstown, specifically at Glenorchy which is about an hour’s drive from Queenstown. We joined a local guide who brought us to the sites where key scenes from ‘The Two Towers’ were filmed. We were ‘star struck’ when the guide brought us to the site of the infamous Isengard and the mystical forest leading to the kingdom of the Elves, Lothlorien. For die-hard LOTR fans, this is a must!
Photo from https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/queenstown/zqnqt/hoteldetail
  • Choose a centralized family-friendly hotel: Doing a self-drive trip is never easy! Think kids, laundry, tired-out, room with space etc. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Queenstown which had virtually everything a family on a self-drive trip needs! In fact we were very delighted by the quality of the rooms, the service and the location. The hotel is tucked within a residential areas, well-within 10 minutes drive of downtown Queenstown.  This is perfect as public parking is very limited (and pricey) in Queenstown.

The hotel environment and rooms exude a very modern charm, is very clean with very good service.  We have no complaints at all, in fact we have complemented the staff there for offering to carefully prepacking a selection of breakfast items for our whole family when we needed to depart early for Te Anau before the breakfast time.

Another draw of the hotel is that it has self-service laundry with tumble dry facilities.  Perfect to lighten some laundry either midway through the trip or before heading home. To know more about the hotel, click here.

Photo from https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/queenstown/zqnqt/hoteldetail

More Tips and Trip Reports: We share more tips, itinerary and experiences from our 11D Self-Drive Trip to the South Island, NZ here.

Click here for our tips for Self-Drive around the South Island, New Zealand.
Click here for our Milford Sound Cruise Experience!

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