Queenstown is the adventurous heart of South Island New Zealand, and any trip here will be epic. No matter what season you visit Queenstown has it all!
After our Milford Sound overnight cruise, we headed back for a few days in Queenstown. Thus far our pace in New Zealand was go, go, go, with late nights, early mornings and non-stop days. It was great and the kids were ah-mazing, but the downtime we had in Queenstown was much needed.
Where is Queenstown, New Zealand?
Queenstown is on the south island of New Zealand, on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. It’s surrounded by high mountains, old mining towns, and vineyards.
It’s a fairly small tourist town based around Lake Wakatipu. It reminded me of Tahoe, but even more charming and beautiful. After getting checked into our hotel, we did some laundry and headed out to explore!
We tried to pack light enough that we wouldn’t be hauling tons around, but would have enough for any of the activities we planned. In the past, we have often overpacked, but we felt happy traveling with just backpacks and one small carry-on suitcase.
The Best Places to Eat in Queenstown
We heard the best place to eat in Queenstown was Fergburger, a world-renowned burger joint, so it was our first choice for places to eat. We didn’t know how much more it had to offer besides burgers!
Our hotel was in the heart of downtown, making walking everywhere convenient (parking isn’t easy). We walked along the lake and through part of the town, it was nice and close. We probably got to Fergburger around 3:30 and it was packed! This place almost always has a line, so be prepared. Don’t go at obvious meal times and the wait will be shorter. The line and the wait go pretty quick, it’s totally worth it.
They have a 4.5 star rating out of 7,859 reviews. That’s a solid amount of people giving high reviews to this place. To top it off, they are so popular, their hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m.! They only close for 3 hours a day! They already had several people inside ordering at 8 a.m. when we drove by on our way out of town.
Obviously, they are known for their hamburgers. There are a few different selections on how to make your burger. We went with the original with fries, ginger beer and a Belgian hot chocolate.
The hamburger was messy, but good! The ingredients were high-quality and the meat was especially flavorful. The ginger beer was nothing special compared to the amazing brew we had in Hobbiton.
I loved the fries and sauce, but the real stand out was the Belgian hot chocolate. Since getting a thick hot chocolate in London I haven’t been able to enjoy regular hot chocolate. This was the closest to what I had in London – thick, rich, dark chocolate, basically a melted dark chocolate bar in drink form.
When we left the restaurant we noticed next door there was Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Geletaria.
Fergbaker was a great place for breakfast or lunch. The bakeries here were our favorites throughout all of New Zealand. This was where I had the best meat pie – my mouth is watering as I think about it, it was so good! It was definitely one of my favorite things I ate while in New Zealand. I wish I could have tried every pie. Bonus: You can also buy the hot chocolate here!
Mrs. Ferg Gelateria
Mrs. Ferg makes the best gelato in town! There is even a little stand on the beach that sells it.
This was recommended to us by our off-roading tour guide, Nathan. It was pretty good. We didn’t realize how large it was going to be, but it was great to have leftovers for the next day’s drive.
It was an early morning Friday as we had reservations to go on a Nomad Safari’s off-roading adventure. Matt quickly went to Vudu Cafe near our hotel to get some breakfast. We tried a selection of pastries that were delicious and full of flavor. Highly recommended…if you can’t make it to Fergbaker!
Top Activities in Queenstown
Easily one of the favorites for both kids! Royce loves a good race and Jeannie is our adrenaline girl. You ride a gondola up the mountain, take a chairlift up even further, and finally you get into these little carts that you speed down the mountain!
I was worried about how safe it would be but it was much safer than I had imagined. They stock helmets in multiple sizes that everyone wears. If it is your first time, you have to go down the “bunny hill”, or easier track. If you have kids riding with you, you also stay on that track. The kids can’t go on the more advanced course. They give you a quick class on how to drive, making sure you understand the stop and go, then release you for an amazing adventure!
The views never stopped impressing us the whole time we were in New Zealand. The Queenstown gondola offered some of the most amazing views overlooking the lake and town. It was a great way to see Queenstown!
Our hotel was right on the beach. It was a popular place to take a stroll or even go for a swim! Had it been a bit warmer, I’m sure we would have spent more time here.
Right off the beach, near our hotel, there was a pretty amazing park! The kids loved being able to have some “kid” time there…but Matt was having just as much fun with them. The slides were fast and the kids were adventurous, seeing all the fun ways they could go down the slide – headfirst, sideways, eyes closed – knowing Matt would catch them at the end!
Ultimate off-roading adventure
Our off-roading adventure was hands down our favorite thing we did in New Zealand. Back in the States we own a 1984 Land Rover Defender. We love going on adventures in it, and the kids always ask Matt to make up stories involving them driving it. So when we were choosing our off-roading adventure we wanted to make sure it was going to be with a Defender.
Our adventure took us across 36 river crossings up and over some wild terrain up to Macetown, an old mining town, definitely not for the faint of heart. Defenders are the only vehicle they use to go all the way there and for good reason!
This quaint town is at the base of the trail up to Macetown. Known for being a mining town, there are a lot of mining activities to do here. We tried our hand at panning, and even found a few flakes.
Maybe next time:
- Bungee jumping
- Shotover jet boat ride
- Horseback riding
- Hot air balloon ride
- Blue Pools
Is Queenstown Kid Friendly?
Absolutely! The South Island, especially Queenstown, is known for extreme sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, biking and jet boat rides. However, there is plenty to enjoy at a more leisurely pace that includes bringing the kids along. Everything we wanted to do, we could do with the kids. The kids loved the parks, the Luge, and off-roading; it was easily one of their favorite stops in all of New Zealand.
There is so much to do in Queenstown, you could spend days here and just scratch the surface of all the fun possibilities. For us, this was a relaxing part of the trip. Other than our off-roading, we didn’t have anything booked for 2 days! We were able to make it about the kids, go at their pace and make sure they enjoyed the vacation, too!
Check out these 10 essential tips on traveling to New Zealand with kids.