Top 10 Queenstown Sightseeing Spots

Hot List Inspiration Top 10

Our guide to the best sightseeing spots in and around Queenstown

There are so many fantastic sightseeing spots in, and around Queenstown, that picking a top 10 means there are many equally worthy spots that can be argued for inclusion.  But, for the purposes of our list, we've come up with our top 10 spots that offer a great representation of the region's beauty. 

At the end of the article there are a couple of links that will offer more scenic locations to check out.

1. Queenstown Gardens

Nestled by Lake Wakatipu and situated right next to ‘Marine Parade’, Queenstown Gardens feature pristine lawns, a large water feature, a rose garden, significant memorials and the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown.  A popular and free activity is the frisbee golf course laid out throughout the gardens

2. Arrowtown

20km northwest of Queenstown, Arrowtown is a former gold mining town and a real slice of New Zealand history.  The charming town is full of pretty buildings, shop fronts, cafes and restaurants.  Browse the boutique shops, visit the Arrowtown Chinese Village attraction and the The Lakes District Museum & Gallery and enjoy a walk alongside the Arrow River.

3. Skyline Gondola

The base of the gondola is on Brecon Street and a 5 minute from the town centre.  400 metres up, the Skyline Gondola offers epic views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables and town below.  Along with the best views, there’s the Luge Ride, Ziptrek, Mountain Bike Park, café, buffet restaurant, gift shop and cultural performance show. 

4. Kawarau Bridge & Gibbston

A 30 minute drive along State Highway 6 brings you the most famous wine region in the area, Gibbston.  With a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s great Pinot Noir wine growing regions, there are plenty of cellar doors to drop into and sample award-winning wines.  The Wentworth Loop Walk (just past the Peregrine Winery) offers views of the stunning Kawarau River on one side and world-class wineries on the other side. 

The added bonus is shortly before reaching Gibbston, you can stop by and watch, or bungy from where this iconic activity started – the Kawarau Bridge.

5. Lake Wakatipu Cruise

An obvious choice on the list, but one we can’t leave out.  There are three operators that offer cruises with commentary along the stunning Lake Wakatipu while you admire the incredible scenery unfold.  Read our ‘Boat Tours’ guide to decide which type of cruise to go on - steamship, large modern catamaran or, a small vessel.  Book a trip in our ‘Scenic Cruises’ section.

6. Glenorchy

The 45 minute drive to Glenorchy is one of the world’s great short drives and a constant reminder why many of the most dramatic scenes form Lord of The Rings films were shot here.  From the main car park the one hour ‘Loop Walk’ is well worth doing.

Glenorchy has a campground, a golf course and hosts a number of activities including Ziplining, horseriding, guided walking tours, jetboating, canyoning, skydiving and scenic flights. The team at Pure Glenorchy will guide you through the stunning scenery of Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park, the Dart River Valley and Paradise, and visit iconic locations from The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Wolverine & X-Men movies.   Read our article on the ‘Road to Glenorchy’ for all the best bits to see on the way to and when you arrive at Glenorchy.

7. Lake Hayes

A 15 minute drive from Queenstown, Lake Hayes is a beautiful lake with 360 mountain views.  The foot path that winds around the lake takes around two to three hours to enjoy the incredible scenery.  Or, you can just take a photo from the small car park off State Highway 6.

8. Wanaka

Wanaka is just over an hour’s drive via the Crown Range with plenty of ‘Instagram moments’ along the way.  Stop off at the Cardrona Hotel about half way to Wanaka in the small settlement of Cardona.  Wanaka itself is framed by Lake Wanaka and the dramatic Southern Alps.  The area is a popular all-year-round resort with visitors drawn to the slopes of Treble Cone Ski resort in winter.  While in the summer, walking, biking, lake activities and mountaineering are all specialities of the region.   A Lake Cruise and Island Walk is a good way to see some of the area’s most beautiful spots.

9. Old Cromwell & Bannockburn
 
On the drive to Bannockburn and Cromwell, sightseeing spots include the wineries of Gibbston, the Roaring Meg Lookout with gorgeous views of the power station and the Kawarau river.  A bit further along is the Goldfields Mining Centre where guided tours show the site of the Chinese Miners who came to search for gold, and the site of the Goldfields Mine itself.  There is also a jet boat ride, gift shop and restaurant.

Bannockburn is a very small town with the main point of interest (apart from the scenery) being the wineries and art galleries.  A walk to Stewart Town gives a real sense of the past, and the trail has some spectacular panoramic views along the way.  Mt Difficulty Winery is a good stop for lunch with panoramic views of Otago.

A few minutes’ drive past Bannockburn, brings you to the fruit and wine growing region of Cromwell.  You can visit the re-constructed town of ‘Old Cromwell’, complete with recreated buildings from the gold mining era, and a number of quaint shops and cafes overlooking Kawarau River.

10. Milford Sound

Drive, book a guided coach trip or take the quick route with a scenic flight.  It’s a 5 hour drive (one way) which is why staying a night in Te Anau is a good option (2 hours away from Milford Sound).  Both scenic flight and guided coach tours include a cruise.  The two hour cruise covers the length of the sound, with chances to see towering waterfalls, dramatic mountain peaks and spot fur seals and dolphins.  

More Ideas

Check out ‘Queenstown Walks’ article that includes more ‘sightseeing spots’ to enjoy.
Check our ‘Top 10 Queenstown Views’ article for those unmissable 'Instagram shots'.