9 things to do in Queenstown that won’t strain your wallet

Many a traveller faces the same situation while in Queenstown: there is so much adventure on offer, but they are on a budget and can’t do everything. They could fill a whole week going on adventures of varying shades of crazy, be that bungy jumping, a guided LOTR film locations tour, or speed boating. Whilst great experiences, these activities come at a certain price, so you need to find other, less costly things to see and do during the remainder of your stay in Queenstown. Here are my 9 favourite things to do in Queenstown that are either free or pretty cheap.

1. Walk along Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Adventure activities promoted everywhere around town can be a little distracting from the very obvious sometimes. Make sure you take some time to walk along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. You’ll find it the perfect opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful natural scenery as well as parasailers and the TSS Earnslaw, a historic steam boat from 1912.

2. Play frisbee golf

There’s an 18-object frisbee golf course in Queenstown Gardens right downtown by the lake. The gardens are stunning and allow for some marvellous views over the lake and a welcome break from the tourist hustle and bustle. Bring your own frisbees or rent them at the Shoe Clinic on Beach Street. Cost: free; frisbee rental 7$/day

3. Treat yourself to chocolates and ice cream

Treat yourself to some locally produced, handmade chocolate at Patagonia Chocolates. Rather fancy a scoop of ice cream? Choose among many a delicious flavour at the same store. Either in Arrowtown or by the lakefront in Queenstown.

4. Drive to Glenorchy and Kinloch

Driving from Glenorchy to Queenstown

Driving from Glenorchy to Queenstown

Jeremy Clarkson would probably call the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy one of the best roads to drive, that’s how stunning the route is. Stop at the many viewing points and take in the amazing views.

5. Watch paragliders land

Just a wee 5 min walk from the centre you can watch paragliders land in a school field on Robins Road. On a nice day you won’t wait long to see a few!

6. Visit LOTR film locations

Lord of the Rings locations can be found all around Queenstown

Lord of the Rings locations can be found all around Queenstown

There are so many Lord of the Rings film locations all around Queenstown. If you’re a die-hard fan but don’t want to spend money on a guided tour with props and tales about the filming of the trilogy, you may want to head out on your own and discover the sites yourself. All you need is to do some research on the internet, or take your AA road atlas as guidance, in which you’ll find ring symbols placed all over its maps.

7. Eat at Fergburger

Try a ginormous burger at Fergburger on Shotover Street. It is THE burger place to go to. Even at 3 am. You may have to queue for a bit, but it’s worth it.

8. Watch bungy jumpers at Kawarau Bridge

Bungy jumping off Kawarau Bridge

Bungy jumping off Kawarau Bridge

Don’t have the guts or the budget to try it yourself? You’ll still find it entertaining to watch brave people jump off Kawarau Bridge. It’s just a 20 min drive outside Queenstown off SH 6. Spectators can watch from several viewing platforms. There’s also the bungy centre offering information and videos on the history of bungy and the AJ Hackett bungy story.

9. Do a wine tasting

Peregrine winery off SH 6 near Queenstown

Peregrine winery off SH 6 near Queenstown

Finally, a wine tasting is a fabulous low-cost activity in or around Queenstown. There are plenty of vineyards along SH 6, such as Peregrine winery or Gibbston Valley winery, and several wine shops in town where you can do a wine tasting for free or a small fee. The local iSite should have a wine map similar to this one for you to find your way to wineries around Otago.

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  5 comments for “9 things to do in Queenstown that won’t strain your wallet

  1. 26 May, 2011 at 01:44

    Great list! Everyone always pinpoints Queenstown as a really expensive place to visit – and it certainly can be! But, as you’ve proven here, there are ways to visit even the most expensive cities if you’re on a tight budget.

    (Though, I would definitely advocate for splurging on at least ONE expensive activity in Queenstown… so many options!)

    • Christina
      27 May, 2011 at 17:48

      Thanks, Amanda! And I do agree with you, once you are there, you should definitely set aside a bit of your budget for one of the many activities that are unique to this town. And the variety of options available won’t make it hard to find at least one that tickles your fancy!

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