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.

The Rees is so close to many quality ski fields in Queenstown

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.

  1. Ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak.
  2. Dangle hundreds of metres above Lake Wakatipu in the Sky Swing.
  3. Enjoy a lake cruise on the iconic steamship the TSS Earnslaw.
  4. Ride a mountain bike down the trails from the top Bob’s Peak.
  5. Enjoy some of the southern hemisphere’s best skiing and snowboarding.
  6. Take a leap and bungy jump off the Kawarau Bridge.
  7. Fly through the treetops with Ziptrek Ecotours.
  8. Fight virtual wars on alien planets at 360° VR.
  9. Feed the farm animals at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
  10. Take a dip in one of the incredible beaches that line Lake Wakatipu.

Things to do in Queenstown with...

Paragliding is a beautiful way to see Queenstown, but you normally have to be 10 years or older to give it a go.

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.

off the beaten track family destinations
Queenstown. Picture: Shutterstock.

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. 

Make sure you try some of the delicious local cherries in Arrowtown. Yum!

Things to do for free in Queenstown

  • 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.
What’s on?

The best annual events for families in Queenstown

March - Gibbston Wine and Food Festival

Enjoy fine food and family entertainment in beautiful garden surrounds.

April – The Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival

Join in the fun of this five day family festival over the ANZAC long weekend.

June – American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

Celebrate the Southern Hemisphere's biggest winter celebration with street parties, music, comedy, Après Ski dining, mountain events and stacks of frosty family fun.

September - Alexandra Blossom Festival

This colourful community festival celebrates the blossoming of Spring.

October - Queenstown Jazzfest

A great line-up of local, national and international musicians playing traditional and contemporary jazz, blues, Dixie and folk music and plenty of free community events.

November - Arrowtown Trolley Race

Make a cart and test your racing skills at the annual Arrowtown Trolley Race.

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