Flying into Queenstown is one of the most breathtaking descents you can experience, yet when you touch down there’s a new type of transport on your mind; how to get around Central Otago if you don’t have a car! Luckily, the main bucket list experiences of this giant playground are way ahead of you.
There are many tours and excursions that offer transport to far away hot spots as well as plenty of activities that can be enjoyed in the heart of town. You can forget about the road rules and parking hassles; here are the best ways to explore Queenstown’s awesome activities without the need for four wheels.
A visit to Milford Sound is an adventure that can’t be missed. Because of its remote location, traveling options to Milford Sound have been carefully considered by tour operators and are now easier than ever.
To reach Milford Sound from Queenstown, the most popular transport option is to climb aboard our Southern Discoveries premium coach and combine it with the Discover More Cruise around the fiord. The comfortable bus picks you up in central Queenstown, makes several rest stops during the journey for photos or breakfast, and then delivers you on the shores of your next leg.
After easily switching your mode of transport from bus to boat, you’ll be cruising the waves of Milford Sound on the tour that takes you further, deep into the curves and bays of an untouched land. The Discover More cruise also includes a trip to the Underwater Observatory to get literally deep (10 metres below the surface) into the unique marine life and ecosystems of Fiordland National Park.
After your cruise the coach will return you to Central Queenstown, wrapping up a full-day of maximum exploration with minimal logistical planning.
If it’s efficiency you’re looking for, swapping two feet for two wheels is the ideal way to see more sights in less time. Better By Bike offers bike rentals and return shuttles from Queenstown so you can explore some of the best bike trails in Central Otago. Their bike rental and return shuttle packages ensure there are no logistical worries standing between you and the trailhead. The popular bike trail tours offered by Better By Bikes include the Gibbston Winery Trail, Twin Rivers Loop, and Lake Hayes Loop.
Attempting a bungy jump is like getting the ultimate stamp in your New Zealand traveler passport. Two AJ Hackett Bungy jumps are tucked into the hills and valleys of Queenstown; The Kawarau Bungy, also known as the World Home of Bungy as it was the first commercial bungy site in the world, is located in Gibbston and the Nevis Bungy, the highest in New Zealand, is suspended over the Nevis Valley.
If you’re jumping at the chance to give it a go but need transport, the Bungy Bus is available to book with many convenient pick up times from the Queenstown Bungy Centre in the middle of town.
Discover a birds eye view of Queenstown by taking a short walk to Brecon Street, the base of Skyline Gondola. Your cable car will take you 450m up the steepest cable car ride in the Southern Hemisphere where you can enjoy the Market Kitchen Cafe, Stratosfare Restaurant, or find a unique and thrilling way back down the hill…Luge!
On the Skyline Luge you can fly downhill on purpose-built gravity-propelled carts, weaving around several tracks that are fun for the whole family.
With the various views, activities, food options, and walking tracks waiting at the top, this is a great way to spend a full-day in Queenstown without a car.
Hiking trails in central Queenstown
If you’re going to be relying on your own two feet, you might as well commit to it and complete some of the best hiking tracks in Queenstown. Two of the most conveniently located trailheads are the Queenstown Hill Time Walk and the Ben Lomond Track.
The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is a short yet largely uphill 1.5km track that begins in the heart of Queenstown, just off Belfast Terrace. With information signs along the track and at the summit, you learn about the past, present, and future of Queentown while climbing Te Tapu-nui (Queenstown Hill).
For more of a challenge, the Ben Lomond Track is a full-day hike that begins at the top of the Skyline Gondola. The grit and effort you put in will be rewarded tenfold with expansive views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the many peaks that pop up as you conquer the track. You can choose to turn around at the saddle or go all the way to the summit if the weather is on your side. For the average hiker, this should only be attempted in the warmer months.
On a family trip to Queenstown? Ice skating at the Queenstown Ice Arena is a great family-friendly activity that is conveniently located in central queenstown next to the Queenstown Gardens. The arena also offers ice bumper cars for an exciting acceleration in pace, with combo deals available if your little ones want to try it all.
The Hooker Valley Track is possibly one of the most photographed hiking tracks in the South Island, yet without a car many visitors to Queenstown may find it difficult to navigate the three hour drive from Queenstown to the trail. Altitude Tours offers a full-day excursion from Queenstown so you can walk the Hooker Valley Track and explore Aoraki Mount Cook National Park without access to a car. You’ll be traveling in style in a Mercedes Sprinter and small group sizes, with time to roam freely (self-guided) on the three-hour return track. Don’t forget to snap that popular bridge photo!
With a Kawarau Jet tour, you can step straight off Queenstown’s Main Town Pier and into a gnarly jet boat for the ride of a lifetime. With no car needed, KJet gives you the opportunity to explore three waterways, Lake Wakatipu, Shotover River, and the Kawarau River, with some 360 degree spins and speeds of 95 kph thrown in!