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Top Ten Things to do in Queenstown with a Campervan

Need some inspiration on where to go on your Queenstown campervan adventure? We’ve rounded down a shortlist of 10 unforgettable nearby sites.

Wānaka, 69 km north

This pretty little resort town straddles a crystalline lake of the same name. Grab a happy snap of the Insta-famous #ThatWanakaTree, then summit Roy’s Peak for breathtaking Southern Alps views. Treble Cone offers a less-crowded skiing experience than the busier Queenstown resorts.

AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Centre, 24 km east

Hurtle yourself off the world’s first commercial bungy jump at the legendary Kawarau Bridge. Run by long-standing adventure institution AJ Hackett, this terrifying plunge has become a rite of passage for thrill seekers in Queenstown.

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 255 km north

Home to New Zealand’s highest and most-celebrated peak, this dramatic national park encapsulates the essence of the Southern Alps. If you don’t have the energy for an arduous hike, the scenic drive into White Horse Hill Campground offers equally breathtaking views.

Coronet Peak & The Remarkables, 12km north and 13km east, respectively

Avid skiers will find fresh powder runs at Coronet Peak and The Remarkbles, which both reside an easy drive from Queenstown. The ski season runs from June to September and sees the town pack out with excitable alpinists. If uncrowded off-piste skiing excites you, try Treble Cone (near Lake Wanaka) instead.

Dunedin, 279 km east

Quaint Dunedin celebrates its Scottish heritage with antiquated Edwardian-style architecture. Pop into New Zealand’s most spectacular (and only) castle, the Larnach Castle, to admire its stately interiors and luscious lawns. Sky gazers should know Dunedin is the most likely place to spot the Southern Lights.

Franz Josef Glacier, 353 km north

Franz Josef is a mind-blowing glacier cascading 12 km from the Southern Alps towards the west coast. Budget travellers can take a free 1.5-hour walk to admire the natural marvel. But if you’ve got cash to splash, a heli-hike trip or guided ice-climbing tour is your best bet.

Glenorchy, 46 km north

On the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is an easy-going village set amid spectacular natural surroundings. Queenstown-inspired adventure activities abound, and the town sits near the world-renowned Routeburn Track.

Lake Tekapo, 256 km north

Nestled beneath Mount Cook lies Lake Tekapo, a lovely little township straddling a picture-perfect lake. The Church of the Good Shepherd offers an iconic photo op, while the Tekapo Springs is a scenic place to soak your stress away. Stargazers mustn’t miss Mt John Observatory.

Milford Sound, 288 km west

Famed British author Rudyard Kipling (of Jungle Book acclaim) declared Milford Sound the “Eighth Natural Wonder of the World.” He might be onto something. This dreamscape of gorgeous fjords sits flanked by plunging cascades and the triangular-shaped Mitre Peak.

Shotover River, 6km north

Stretching for 75 km, this fast-flowing aqua-blue river churns through a dramatic tree-fringed canyon. Most folks rocket across the surface on a death-defying jet boat ride or white-water rafting tour. Other options like kayaking and hiking appeal to genteel types.

The Queenstown Experience

Adventure is Queenstown’s raison d’etre, and this action-packed city has no shortage of thrills.

The most iconic daredevil activity is hurling your trembling torso 43 metres off the Kawarau Bridge. As the world’s first commercial bungee jump, this terrifying pastime never fails to elicit a scream.

Keen to up the free fall ante? NZONE does a famous tandem skydiving experience over the Remarkables ski resort. Alternatively, book an acrobatic joy flight with Actionflite to experience face-contorting g-forces from the backseat of a biplane.

If you’re not fond of heights, you could jump on a death-defying jet boat ride through the Shotover River instead. Other heart-pumping pursuits include paragliding, white-water rafting, river surfing, quad biking, and mountain biking. From June to September, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables lure scores of thrill-seeking skiers.

You don’t need nerves of steel to enjoy Queenstown. The tourist-friendly city has a burgeoning foodie scene, plating up everything from Patagonian chocolates to oversized burgers (don’t miss Fergburger). You’ll also find terrific tipples at the Gibbston wine region, home to some of the Southern Hemisphere’s best Pinot Noir.

For a lay of the land, take the Queenstown Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak and savour iconic alpine views. The best way to get back down is by braving the banked corners of the Queenstown Luge.

More gentle endeavours include cruising across Lake Wakatipu in a century-old coal-fired steamship or hiking the breathtaking Ben Lomond Walkway. If golf is more your jam, Jack’s Point, Millbrook Resort and The Hills have championship-quality courses. Either way, unwind after a crazy day with a soothing soak in the Onsen Hot Pools spa resort.

Nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps, Queenstown serves as a handy starting point to explore the unmatched beauty of New Zealand’s South Island.

Queenstown Surrounds

A quick campervan trip west of the city gets you to Glenorchy, a quaint little town with a majestic Middle Earth setting. You’ll find more outdoorsy adventures here, including the world-famous 32 km Routeburn Track.

To the north, Wānaka is a picture-perfect resort town straddling the shores of a reflective lake. Don’t miss a photo-op with #ThatWanakaTree, a solitary crack willow whose gnarled branches twist above the shimmering surface. Nearby, Roy’s Peak affords spellbinding lake views, while Treble Cone is your go-to ski resort for uncrowded fresh powder runs.

The long detour to Milford Sound is a must-do side trip for its cascading falls and pristine fjords. Admire marine life like fur seals and penguins from a scenic cruise under the shadow of Mitre Peak.

A few hours east of Queenstown, Dunedin is an endearing harbour town flush with old-timey Edwardian architecture. Come here to marvel at the pulsating display of the Southern Lights and visit the Scottish-style Larnach Castle.

Not far north of Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders Beach is a picturesque sandy stretch famed for its perfect spherical-shaped rocks.

If you fancy meeting a wild kiwi (and other native fauna) in-person, take your campervan on the car ferry from Bluff to Stewart Island.

The Southern Alps

Stretching across much of the South Island, this majestic mountain range offers some of the most striking alpine scenery on earth.

Your first stop should be Mount Aspiring National Park, a glacier-strewn landscape that starred in the Lord of the Rings films.

Further north, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park hosts the country’s most revered mountain, plus mesmerising scenery on the Hooker Valley Track. On the other side of the range, the 12 km-long Franz Josef Glacier is a big-ticket South Island attraction—swing for a heli-hiking tour if your budget allows.

Don’t miss the charming waterfront town of Lake Tekapo, which laps against tranquil waters of the same name. The quintessential Lake Tekapo photo-op takes in the stone brick Church of the Good Shepherd. If you’re into intergalactic constellations, book a stargazing session at Mt. John Observatory. Stressed-out travellers can soak their worries away in the gurgling Tekapo Springs

On the western side of the range, Hokitika Gorge is a serene aquamarine river slicing through a cragged rocky canyon. Verdant rainforest enshrouds both riverbanks, and there’s a hiking trail and suspension bridge to admire the views.

Arthur’s Pass is a rugged national park with scenic roads, quirky alpine villages, and stacks of walking trails. Nelson Lakes National Park is another postcard-perfect place to soak up those epic Southern Alps views. Despite its ice-capped peaks, teeming beech forests, and glistening lakes, this far-flung park remains relatively off the beaten track.

Christchurch & Beyond

As the South Island’s most populous city, Christchurch is a welcome stop for travellers craving a slice of contemporary urban life. Buzzy bars and restaurants aside, the town boasts charming old-world architecture and verdant inner-city gardens.

Southeast of the city, Akaroa is a cute harbour town where rare Hector’s dolphins frolic offshore.

In the northwest, Paparoa National Park rewards travellers with up-close views of intriguing pancake-like rocks. Abel Tasman National Park is a sun-worshipper’s playground of pristine sandy beaches and sea-spray-formed cliffs. Grab a happy snap with its fruit-shaped Split Apple Rock.

Oenophiles adore the Marlborough District, where fertile vineyards pump out quaffable whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. On the adjacent coastline, Marlborough Sounds is a labyrinth-like maze of sunken river valleys. Jump on a sightseeing cruise or pull up at a waterfront campsite to admire the view.