Top 10 things to do in Queenstown on a budget

18 March 2019

Top 10 things to do in Queenstown on a budget 

Visiting Queenstown on holiday can be daunting for some travellers because let’s face it, Queenstown isn’t the cheapest place in the world to travel. Don’t be put off though, some of the best things to do in Queenstown can be done on a budget!

Many of the best things to do in Queenstown are free and the ones that aren’t are actually very affordable. Here are the 10 top things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand on a budget.

  1. 1. Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise 

Enjoying a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu is one of the best things to do in Queenstown. Most people don’t realise that although this activity may sound expensive, it’s actually very affordable. The best value cruise you can do on Lake Wakatipu is aboard our Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise.

For only as little as $25 for children, $39 for adults and $99 for the whole family, you can enjoy stunning views as we cruise Lake Wakatipu for an hour and thirty minutes! And if you have more time, add on our Mt Nicholas Farm Experience or Station 2 Station Cycle Trail to your cruise!

For more information or to book your Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise, click here!

  1. 2. Queenstown Underwater Observatory 

The Queenstown Underwater Observatory is the only way to see beneath Lake Wakatipu without braving the freezing water. In the observatory, you can see a range of freshwater fish, diving ducks and even eels who all hang out just metres from the shoreline.
As of September 2019 the observatory is undergoing a major upgrade so keep up to date with all changes here

  1. 3. Kiwi Birdlife Park 

The Kiwi Bird Park in Queenstown is the best way to see the famous kiwi bird while in New Zealand. These little guys are super cute and at the bird park you even have the opportunity to see them being fed! Also at the park, are other native species such as the kia, morepork owl, blue duck, and more.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park offers great deals for families and entrance to the park includes a conservation show, Kiwi feeding, and audio guide.

  1. 4. Explore the Queenstown Gardens 

One of the best things about Queenstown is that you never have to wander far to immerse yourself in nature. One prime example of this is the Queenstown Gardens!

The Queenstown Gardens are a great place to go for a walk on a nice day. Around the gardens you can learn about the different plants, relax at one of the many park benches, or even play Frisbee Golf! For an even better time, grab some food from town and head out to the gardens for a picnic!


  1. 5. Hike the Tiki Trail to the Skyline viewing platform 

The Tiki Trail is the famous hiking trail that follows the gondola up to Bob’s Peak. This short trail takes about 1 hour to complete and is the cheapest way to take in the stunning views from Queenstown’s most iconic photo spot – the Skyline viewing platform.

The hike is completely free and starts from the bottom of the gondola in town and finishes up at the Skyline building. If you’re keen for even better views, then keep hiking and continue onto the Ben Lomond trail – one of Queenstown’s best day hikes!  

  1. 6. Ride the Luge 

Once you reach the top of Bob’s Peak (either via hiking or the gondola) you try one of the fun adventure activities offered up there. One of the best value activities is the Luge!

The Luge is a gravity fed go-cart ride that is both fun and exciting. It’s fun for all ages and there are two tracks to cater for all experience levels. One ride on the Luge starts at $12, however, multi-ride packages make each ride even cheaper!

  1. 7. Hire a bike and explore the Frankton Trail 

Keeping active while on holiday isn’t hard in Queenstown. The area is filled with stunning hiking trails and bike paths. One of the best trails for biking is the Frankton Trail. This easy but beautiful trail follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown to Frankton and is an activity you can do all year round!

Bike rental in Queenstown starts from as little as $29 a day.

  1. 8. Kayak or paddle board on Lake Wakatipu 

One of the best ways to explore Lake Wakatipu is on a kayak or paddleboard. Both activities are super fun and a very personal way to explore the lake. At the lakes main beach in town, Paddle Queenstown rents all of the gear and equipment you need to get started and can also give you a few pointers if it’s your first time!

  1. 9. Free fudge tasting at Remarkable Sweet Shop 

If you have a sweet tooth there’s no better way to sooth it than at the Remarkable Sweet Shop. Here you can try the largest selection of confectionery in Queenstown! The main reason to visit is for the fudge! With dozens of different flavours available, you’re sure to enjoy trying a few of them free of cost!

  1. 10. Explore Arrowtown

Like Queenstown, Arrowtown was an important part of the early gold rush. But unlike Queenstown, Arrowtown has managed to keep much of its gold rush architecture and charm. This small town is the perfect place to explore and maybe even do a bit of souvenir shopping.

Getting to Arrowtown by public bus only costs $2 with an Orbus Go Card (you can purchase from your bus driver for $5) or $5 without the card. 

Queenstown is a beautiful place to visit but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Using the above guide can really help you stay on budget and have an amazing time while in Queenstown!

For more information about Queenstown check out our Queenstown blog! Also, be sure to check out all of the Queenstown activities we offer here at Southern Discoveries!

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