Ultimate guide to things to do in Queenstown with kids
Queenstown is undoubtedly New Zealand’s adventure capital and there is an abundance of action-packed activities for kids of all ages, including bungy jumps, white water rafting, jet boating and access to some of the southern hemisphere’s most incredible runs at the excellent family friendly ski slopes.
During the sunnier months, hit the water for jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and white-water rafting, all of which are easy to access in or around Queenstown. Or enjoy the thrills of the luge at the top of the Queenstown Gondola. Kids as young as six can zoom high above the trees for amazing views of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains with Ziptrek Ecotours, while older kids can take the leap off the Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of bungy, or go for maximum adrenalin paragliding or canyoning.
Rent bikes, in the right size for your family, and ride them down Bob’s Hill or through historic Arrowtown or one of the many incredible wilderness trails.
In winter, Queenstown is the gateway to some of the southern hemisphere’s best ski fields. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are both family-friendly ski fields with a range of childcare options and large learner areas. You’ll find plenty of options for gear hire, lift passes and ski and snowboarding lessons for kids of every age. Plus, kids five and under can ski for free and enjoy free on mountain entertainment from Spike and Shred, the ski field mascots.
Top things to do in Queenstown
There’s so much to see and do in Queenstown it is hard to know where to start. Here are a 10 of our favourites.
- Ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak.
- Dangle hundreds of metres above Lake Wakatipu in the Sky Swing.
- Enjoy a lake cruise on the iconic steamship the TSS Earnslaw.
- Ride a mountain bike down the trails from the top Bob’s Peak.
- Enjoy some of the southern hemisphere’s best skiing and snowboarding.
- Take a leap and bungy jump off the Kawarau Bridge.
- Fly through the treetops with Ziptrek Ecotours.
- Fight virtual wars on alien planets at 360°VR.
- Feed the farm animals at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Take a dip in one of the incredible beaches that line Lake Wakatipu.
Things to do in Queenstown with…
When the littlies tire of all the great parks and playgrounds, take them to the top of Bob’s Peak on the Skyline Gondola, the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, for great views and plenty of giggles.
Or take the little ones on a lake cruise on the classic steamship the TSS Earnslaw all the way to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Here they can help feed sheep and deer and get up close and personal with the enormous, wide-horned and hairy Scottish Highland Cattle. They can also watch sheep shearing demonstrations and see sheep dogs in action.
When the snow starts to fall the real fun starts with gear hire, kids lift passes and lessons with experienced instructors for kids from three years of age on gentle learner slopes. And what little one wouldn’t love building snowmen, making snow angels and throwing snowballs at mum and dad?
Even young visitors can get their thrills when visiting New Zealand’s adventure capital. Ziptrek Ecotours, a wild eco-adventure through the forest canopy, situated on Skyline Gondola Hill is a great place to start with zip lining for kids aged six and over. Experienced guides will help guide you from tree to tree where you can soak up the amazing views of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. Or they can home their trampolining skills at indoor trampoline park, Site!
And Arrowtown Bike Hire provides mountain bike hire in different sizes including bikes for children. Hire bikes for the whole family to cycle the historic town or ride local wilderness trails across the famous Kawarau Bungy Bridge or to gold pan along the Arrow River. Bike it Now! also offers experiences on a range of major cycling trails around Queenstown with children’s bikes and tow behinds available.
For kids not quite ready to take on the most extreme of the extreme sports there are plenty of soft adventure activities. A gondola ride up Bob’s Peak provides spectacular views, and if you want a little adrenalin charge you can tackle the luge, a wheeled gravity ride that provides riders full control over their descent on a purpose built track that runs from the top of the gondola. Or you can rent a mountain bike in town to explore the area and ride the steep trails that run from the top of Bob’s Peak.
Fight intergalactic wars on alien planets and cast spells in the darkest of dungeons at 360° VR, a high tech centre that allows you to see, move and feel your way through virtual adventures. And at Vortex, enjoy cutting edge motion theatre with as many as 12 multi-sensory effects including snow, rain and fog immersing you in the movies.
Active teenagers will find fun in Queenstown whatever the season. In summer, hit the water for jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, river surfing, kayaking and white water rafting. In the Spring and Autumn the weather is ideal for hiking, paragliding, canyoning and zip lining. Any time year you can take the leap of faith with bungy jumping off the Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of the extreme adrenalin sport. There’s also the Sky Swing which dangles 400 metres above Lake Wakatipu. And for the truly brave, there is tandem sky diving over the beautiful town.
In winter, Queenstown is action central. The gateway to some of the southern hemisphere’s best skiing and snowboarding, here you’ll find gear hire, lift passes and ski and snowboarding lessons for kids of every age. There are loads of exciting experienced for advanced skiers and extreme thrill seekers including wilderness snowmobiling and heli skiing.
Best time to visit Queenstown as a family
The best time to visit Queenstown, is entirely dependent on what type of holiday your family is looking for. There are heaps of outdoor activities available in summer, so December to February is popular, and you’ll need to book well in advance.
Winter in New Zealand falls in the months of June, July, and August and as the gateway to the New Zealand ski fields, it’s always busy. July is the busiest month of all, due to it being the height of ski season and local school holidays, so expect places to be crowded and travel costs to be higher. If you do want to travel during July book early or risk missing out.
If you’re wanting to bag accommodation and flight bargains visit in spring, from September to November, when you’ll find smaller crowds, pleasant weather and lower costs.
Family-friendly places to eat in Queenstown
Queenstown’s food scene is world renowned with fantastic local produce showcased at the more than 150 restaurants, bars and cafes in the region. There’s something for everyone, even the fussiest members of the family, with everything from fine diners, family-friendly dining, laid back burger joints and awesome dessert only diners.
Stock up at one of the city’s many supermarkets and grocery stores for a family picnic by the lake front or alongside the river in Arrowtown and Glenorchy.
Or grab a tasty take away from one of the many restaurants that reflect the diverse international community that makes Queenstown so cool. Or dial a delivery as many places will deliver to your hotel, saving you a trip with tired kids.
And for an extra special evening enjoy a traditional Maori hangi, cooked in an underground oven, along with a cultural performance, at Skyline Gondola.
Things to do for free in Queenstown
- In Ballarat, stroll the laneways with their colourful art, cafes and shopping. Lake Wendouree is situated in the centre of Ballarat and offers a wide range of attractions and recreational activities including the Adventure doesn’t come cheap but there are plenty of free things for families to do in Queenstown. While it’s better known for its epic snow sports, Queenstown is also a great summer destination with plenty of sun and sand to be found at one of the many beaches that line the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
- Queenstown Garden is a quiet sanctuary for those wanting a break from Queenstown’s busy centre. Relax amongst the trees and plants or fling your way around the 18-hole disc golf course. Active families can walk or cycle a section of the Queenstown Trail, a 100 kilometre trek that takes in historic landmarks and stunning views.
- A visit to Arrowtown is another free family treat. The frontier town’s pretty historic shop fronts give the whole place a gold rush vibe and it’s worth visiting The Lakes District Museum & Gallery and the Chinese Settlement, for a look into Queenstown’s gold rush past.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.