Queenstown is a special place. Surrounded by impressive peaks and situated on a lake of crystal clear blue water, its a mountain town that captures many hearts as people travel their way through New Zealand.
Being the popular tourist town it is, prices can be quite steep. OK, maybe they can be crazy steep! But finding some free things to do isn’t that hard when you have a list like the one below! There are many great activities you can do and places to see.
Check them out!
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR FREE THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN!
1. Queenstown Hill Hike
Photo by Pim Shaitosa
This moderate walk from town is a great way to get some great views over Queenstown and is the easiest hike with views around. Taking about an hour to get up for most people, it’s well worth the effort! Start the hike from Belfast terrace HERE.
2. Moke Lake Hike & Swim
Queenstown has quite a few smaller lakes surrounding it, hence being called the ‘Lakes District’, and all of them are spectacular to see. Moke lake is one of those spots that quickly fills on warm, sunny days with swimmers, kayakers and SUP’ers. And when you look at the water, you’ll know why! Directions to Moke lake are HERE.
3. Lake Hayes Walk
The walk around Lakes Hayes is about 8Km long and takes 2-3 hours to complete. At certain points the track sits centimetres above the lake and also has a nice wooden walkway in places. It’s also a great trail for a cruisy bike ride (if you brought them, or you can hire from town). Start the hike from Lake Hayes reserve.
4. Ben Lomond
This is the BEST hike in Queenstown that has a backcountry feel to it. You will get epic views (if it’s not shrouded in clouds) so pick the best weather you can to make this truly memorable. Remember to take your layers including rain protection as things change very quickly up here. You can read up about why these sorts of peaks may not be as easy as you think HERE. Start the hike from Lomond Crescent.
5. 12 Mile track
This is a nice walk that passes by some great lakefront spots. There’s also some historic relics along the way from the mining days. The track is gravel and well maintained so is suitable for almost everyone.
6. Fernhill Loop
Starting from the lake or Wynyard Crescent, this nice 3-4 hour hike goes through lush forest and gets some great views over the lake. Its steep starting from Wynyard Crescent so is best started from lake level. You can find a map of the Fernhill track HERE.
7. Bob’s Peak
Starting from the base of the Queenstown gondola, this is the free way to get up to the top. It's a nice walk and just like Queenstown hill, it's an easy way to get a good lookout over the town.
8. Stay at the Sam Summers Hut
This historic hut is located on the Mt Crichton Loop track. Even if you just stop for some lunch, the area around is fun to explore and very photogenic! There are 3 beds with room for some more if you bring hiking mats. It can get busy over peak periods, so it’s wise to bring a tent if you intend on staying here. It takes about 45 minutes to walk there, taking the left branch of the Mt Crichton Loop. Staying in the hut is free, please insure you leave it tidy when you leave and carry out all your rubbish.
9. Mt Crichton Loop
If you decide not to stay at the Sam Summers hut, or want to make a bigger trip of it, the Mt Crichton Loop is a nice walk on a graded track through beautiful forests and over crystal clear streams. There are old mining relics around, and a spectacular view over Lake Dispute.
10. Dog Walking
There is an active volunteer dog walking group in Queenstown and if you love dogs, is a great way to spend a few hours! You can take them either for a short or long walk and there are all sorts of dogs for all levels of experience (we had no experience before other than walking our own dog).
Once summer rolls around and the days are nice and long, the water will look very very enticing… so jump in! Though the lake is cold year round, spending time in the beach and going in and out of the water is refreshing and great fun!
12. Relax on Beach
If swimming isn't your thing the beaches are still a perfect place to hangout! Enjoy the amazing views and relax! Bring some food and drinks, a picnic blanket, a book or friends, and enjoy the good weather days.
13. Cliff Jumping
There's a few spots to do this, little Thailand being one of the more popular ones. The cliff jumping can be anything from 2 to 15 meters in height. Remember to land in a pencil dive position on any jumps higher than 4 meters (arms pressed against your sides, point your toes, and keep your body straight). If jumping at little Thailand, remember to not throw things off as rock climbers climb on the wall there and will be beneath you.
14. Watch the Adventure Activities
While it may not be as fun as actually doing the activities, watching the bungee jumping or jet boating can help you decide if you want to do it (or not)! You’ll always get a laugh at someone who maybe signed up for more than they bargained for!
15. Frisbee Golf
This is a great game you can play with any number of people. Spread around Queenstown gardens is a frisbee golf course. Many hostels give the frisbees out for free or you can rent one for $5 or buy one for $20.
16. Queenstown Gardens
Going for a stroll through Queenstown gardens is highly recommended if you aren't up for a game of frisbee golf. There's plenty of grass areas you can relax on or have a picnic as well. The yearly LUMA festival is held in the gardens and is a must see if visiting in June!
Oftentimes you will see people setting up slacklines on the waterfront or in the gardens. Start up a conversation with a slackliner and they will happily introduce you to the sport! It takes a few goes to get the hang of it but you won't get any better if you don't try it, right? Get some tips on starting HERE.
Photo by Pim Shaitosa
This looks complicated but is actually easy to get into. It uses classic or modified yoga poses, but instead of doing them alone and on the ground, you do them with a partner with one of you being the base and the other being a flyer. Start with basic poses which you can find tutorials for on YouTube. Or even better, start a conversation with people doing it if you see them, most will be happy to get you started. Popular spots you'll see others doing acroyoga is once again in the Queenstown gardens, but really, anywhere is great!
19. Saturday Markets (live Music and Performers)
Markets are always a nice way to spend a relaxing day. You'll find plenty of local art, craft and foods in the markets in Queenstown. Live performers are also spread around the place with many random acts and performances in the area.
20. Quiz Nights
Many pubs hold quiz nights during the week and are a great way to unwind with friends. Inquire within the pubs or check eventfinda to see what’s on!
Got anything you love in Queenstown that is free? Share and comment below to share the love!