- Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu
- Go for a hike to the top of Bob's Peak for stunning views of Queenstown
- Experience the thrill of jet boating on the Shotover or Kawarau rivers.
- Try adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown
- Enjoy a leisurely bike ride around Lake Wakatipu or explore the Queenstown trails
- Take a day trip to Milford Sound and cruise through its breathtaking fiords
- Engage in water sports like kayaking or paddleboarding, on Lake Wakatipu
- Go fly fishing or try your hand at trout fishing
- Go bar hopping or sip on cocktails
- Check out the thriving club scene in Queenstown
Wondering what you can do in the summer in Queenstown?
Lucky for you, Queenstown springs to life in the summer. From adrenaline-fueled adventures to the pulsating nightlife scene, Queenstown is a summer destination like no other.
With all there’s to do in Queenstown, our team took a vote on the top things to do in Queenstown in the summer. Here are our picks!
1. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu, with its crystal-clear waters set against a backdrop of majestic mountains, provides the perfect setting for a scenic cruise. It’s the third-largest lake in New Zealand, and its unusual lightning-bolt shape offers miles of stunning shoreline to explore.
Several companies offer cruises, with options ranging from vintage steamships to modern catamarans. A popular choice is the iconic TSS Earnslaw. This century-old coal-fired steamship offers daily trips across the lake.
As you glide over the serene waters, you’ll have the opportunity to soak up panoramic views of the surrounding alpine scenery, including the Remarkables mountain range.
Take the opportunity to visit some of the lake’s picturesque islands. These include Pig and Pigeon Islands, both of which are wildlife reserves.
2. Go for a hike to the top of Bob’s Peak for stunning views of Queenstown
Bob’s Peak offers several hiking trails that range from easy to challenging, making it suitable for all fitness levels.
The Tiki Trail is one of the most popular routes to the top. This steep, winding trail takes about 1-2 hours to complete and leads you through a native bush filled with beautiful ferns and birdlife.
As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with increasingly spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, and the bustling town below.
If hiking isn’t your thing, or you’d prefer a more relaxed way to reach the top, consider taking the Skyline Gondola. The gondola ride takes about 10 minutes, and the large windows of the gondola cabins ensure unobstructed vistas, perfect for photography enthusiasts.
3. Experience the thrill of jet boating on the Shotover or Kawarau rivers.
Jet boating is a quintessential New Zealand adventure, and there’s no better place to experience it than in the fast-flowing waters of the Shotover and Kawarau rivers.
Shotover Jet Queenstown and KJet Queenstown are just two boat tour agencies that offer jet boating tours. On the tour, the jet boats reach speeds of up to 85km/h, skimming across shallow water and performing thrilling 360-degree spins.
The Shotover River, with its narrow canyons and dramatic cliffs, offers an adrenaline-filled ride. The Kawarau River, on the other hand, provides a more scenic experience, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards.
Book your jet boat ride in advance, especially if you’re travelling during peak season.
4. Try adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown
Queenstown is home to commercial bungee jumping, making it a must-try activity for any adrenaline junkie. The town boasts several bungee sites, including the world-famous Kawarau Bridge Bungy.
If you’re brave enough, you can even opt for a water touch, plunging your hands into the turquoise waters of the Kawarau River below.
5. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride around Lake Wakatipu or explore the Queenstown trails
A bike ride around Lake Wakatipu offers a more relaxed way to enjoy Queenstown’s natural beauty. The lake, with its sparkling blue waters and surrounding mountain ranges, provides a picturesque setting for a leisurely ride.
The Queenstown Trail is an excellent option for cyclists. This extensive network of trails takes you through some of the region’s most stunning landscapes, including historic Arrowtown, the vineyards of Gibbston Valley, and the shores of the
Kawarau and Shotover Rivers.
If you’re renting a bike, be sure to get one that’s the right size and type for you. For a leisurely ride, you’ll probably want a hybrid or comfort bike. If you’re planning on exploring some of the more challenging trails, you’ll need a mountain bike.
6. Take a day trip to Milford Sound and cruise through its breathtaking fiords
Milford Sound is about a four hours drive from the town, but the journey is part of the adventure, taking you through some of South Island’s most stunning landscapes.
Once there, a cruise through the fiords offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the area’s natural beauty. You’ll sail past towering cliffs draped in lush rainforest cascading waterfalls and might even spot wildlife such as seals, dolphins, and penguins.
For a different perspective, consider a scenic flight back to Queenstown. Flying over the fiords, mountains, and lakes is an unforgettable experience that highlights the grandeur of the region.
7. Engage in water sports like kayaking or paddleboarding, on Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is the perfect place for water sports.
Kayaking is a popular choice, allowing you to explore the lake at your own pace. As you paddle along the shoreline, you’ll enjoy close-up views of the mountains and might even encounter local birdlife.
Paddle-boarding offers a more relaxed way to enjoy the lake. Standing on the board provides a great vantage point for taking in the views. Plus, it’s a fun way to work on your balance and core strength.
Check the weather and lake conditions before you go. Lake Wakatipu can be a very different place, depending on the weather. It can be calm and sunny one day and stormy and windy the next.
8. Go fly fishing or try your hand at trout fishing
Queenstown’s rivers, particularly the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers, are renowned for their excellent fly fishing opportunities. With clear waters flowing from alpine glaciers, these rivers are home to large populations of rainbow and brown trout.
Remember that New Zealand’s fishing regulations require a license, which can be easily obtained online or from local fishing stores.
9. Go bar hopping or sip on cocktails
Queenstown’s nightlife scene is as diverse as it’s vibrant, with an array of bars and pubs that cater to different tastes.
The city’s historic pubs, such as The Ballarat Trading Co., transport you back in time with their vintage decor and classic Kiwi hospitality. Pub quizzes, live music, and locally brewed beers make these spots a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
Craft beer enthusiasts will find their nirvana in places like Smiths Craft Beer House, where an impressive selection of local and international brews await. Pair your pint with their hearty pub grub for a perfect evening.
For those who prefer a more sophisticated setting, The Lodge Bar offers an extensive wine list and cocktail menu in a stylish, cosy environment. Their outdoor seating area, with its stunning views of the lake, is particularly popular in summer.
10. Check out the thriving club scene in Queenstown
When it comes to late-night entertainment, Queenstown’s clubs know how to keep the party going. Venues like The World Bar and Winnies are renowned for their energetic atmosphere and diverse music, ranging from live bands to top DJs.
Or you can check out Zephyr— the only rock club in Queenstown. Here, you can expect great music, lots of strong drinks, and a rock and roll atmosphere every night.
Dress to impress. Most clubs in Queenstown have a dress code, so it’s important to dress up. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie, but you should avoid wearing anything too casual, such as sneakers or shorts.