3 days in Queenstown

3 Days in Queenstown (Budget Itinerary!)

3 days in Queenstown is a good amount of time to discover the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. Queenstown is one of my favourite places in New Zealand and there are multiple reasons for that.

The first one is that it’s simply beautiful. Queenstown is jaw-droppingly stunning. No matter where you are, you’re blessed with impressive views of the mountains above the town.

The second reason is that despite its small size, there are so many things to do here. You can go bungy-jumping, kayaking, ride a jet boat and skiing in the winter. If that sounds like too much, then you can sit by the lake or go for a walk in the botanical gardens.

Queenstown also has lively nightlife should you fancy some more excitement after the sun goes down. I visited Queenstown multiple times during my time in New Zealand and ended up loving the place more and more each time I went back.

Here’s my 3-day Queenstown itinerary that will help you to make the most of your time in this beautiful part of New Zealand!

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How to spend 3 days in Queenstown

Quick 3 Days in Queenstown itinerary
Day 1 – Walk around Queenstown, Queenstown Gardens, Bob’s Peak
Day 2 – Nevis bungy jump, skiing, jetboating
Day 3 – Milford Sound or Glenorchy, Fergburger

Some of the best things to do in Queenstown

There are many things to do in Queenstown, despite its small size. The problem is finding to fit all of it in. I remember this struggle when we visited the town.

We’d drive from Christchurch to Queenstown on a Friday after work and stay until late Sunday. When we went during bank holidays, it was much easier to fit everything in.

If you’re wondering what to do in Queenstown, I’ve listed some things below which you should check out while you’re there!

Skiing

If you want to go skiing in New Zealand, Queenstown is one of the best places to do so. You will need to visit during the winter months, but you’ll find some of the best slopes in the country if you do.

You have two choices over where to ski when you visit Queenstown. The first option is to head to the mountain range by Queenstown, the Remarkables.

This is the easiest option, as it’s a short drive to the ski field. The other option is to head to Coronet Peak, which is just 25 minutes from Queenstown.

The choice of two quality ski fields in close proximity makes Queenstown a fantastic place to visit if you want to hit the slopes!

Bungy jump

Queenstown’s reputation as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand owes a large part to the bungy jumps that you can do nearby. in particular, the Nevis bungy, which is the highest jump in the country.

Doing a bungy jump isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Despite my friends doing the Nevis bungy, I decided against doing it. The thought of jumping off a ledge with just a rope around my waist wasn’t something that appealed to me!

That said, I know a lot of people are keen to do the bungy jump. Indeed, i’s one of the main reasons they travel to Queenstown in the first place.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then doing a bungy jump will be high on your list of things to do in Queenstown!

Hikes

As I make clear in my South Island travel guide, Queenstown is one of the places to visit on the island. If you’ve seen the pictures you’ll know why. The place is simply beautiful.

Words can’t do it justice. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the town is to go on one of the multiple hikes you can do in the area.

The Tiki Trail to the top of Bob’s Peak is a popular hike, as is the Ben Lomond track. No matter which hike you do, you’ll be treated to some breathtaking scenery!

Others, such as the Mt Crichton Loop, take you to less-visited parts of the town. This includes the old Sam Summers Hut, which was by gold miners over 80 years ago!

Queenstown itinerary – Day 1 

Walk around Queenstown

View of Lake Wakatipu with clouds below the mountains

One of my favourite things to do whenever I visit a new place is to walk around to get my bearings. Queenstown isn’t the biggest place so that’s an easy task.

Unlike other cities in New Zealand, you’re unlikely to find a walking tour in Queenstown. However, you don’t need one. The town is easy to walk around and you can see most of it on foot.

Somewhere you should check out is the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which is just stunning. New Zealand is a photogenic country, and Queenstown is one of the most photogenic places in it!

A short walk around Queenstown is a great way to get your bearings and check out the scenery which is just out of this world!

Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown gardens

After you’ve finished your walk around Queenstown, you should continue into the Queenstown Gardens. It’s located close to Lake Wakatipu and is an underappreciated part of the town.

The botanical garden is beautiful and just walking around and admiring the variety of plants is a great thing to do. But if you want to do more, there’s plenty to do here.

You can play tennis, go skateboarding and BMX biking. Perhaps one of the stranger things to do is to play Disc Golf. The garden has a full course, with the aim being to throw a disc at a target with similar rules to golf.

It’s a lot of fun and an unusual activity that you won’t find in too many other places!

Bob’s Peak

View from Bob's Peak

Queenstown is one of the best places to visit in the South Island, of that there’s no doubt. What makes it such an incredible place is the scenery.

While it’s amazing to walk around and see everything, you’ll get a much better perspective of the town’s beauty up on high. One place you can fo to get this perspective is Bob’s Peak.

To reach the peak, you have two ways to get there. You can either hike the Tiki Trail to the top, or you can take the Skyline Gondola instead. Personally, I would choose the hike, but if you don’t feel up to it, then, by all means, choose the gondola.

However you get to the top, once you do, you’ll be treated to some of the best views in New Zealand!

Queenstown itinerary – Day 2

Nevis Bungy jump

Nevis Bungy jump

Your second day in Queenstown should be spent doing some of the plentiful adrenaline activities. The Nevis Bungy jump is arguably the one that will get your adrenaline pumping the most.

At 134m, it’s the highest jump you can do in New Zealand and not one for the faint-hearted. I didn’t do it when I visited Queenstown, but my friends did and they said it was both terrifying and exhilarating.

After watching the video of them jumping, I can see why. You stand on a ledge with a massive drop beneath you and jump! 

It’s not cheap either. The jump costs in excess of $200. That could eat into your budget if you’re not careful. This is an activity that I’d recommend you do if your heart is set on it.

Otherwise, you might be better trying one of the other activities below.

Skiing

Skiing in Queenstown

If you don’t feel like jumping off a ledge, and I can’t blame you, skiing is a fantastic alternative. There is one downside to this, which is that you’ll only be able to do it during the winter.

If you visit Queenstown during the summer, the ski fields won’t be open. However, if you visit during the winter, this is one of the best things you can do in Queenstown.

You have two choices when it comes to skiing in Queenstown. You can head to the ski field in the Remarkables, which are the mountain range which overlooks the town, or you can head to Coronet Peak which is closer to Wanaka.

Whichever one you decide to visit, skiing is a lot of fun! I had a fantastic time and the slopes were better than I thought they would be. The pass and gear do cost a bit, but it’s a brilliant way to spend your time in Queenstown!

Jetboating

Jetboating in Queenstown

The final part of an adrenaline-filled day in Queenstown culminates with jetboating. I should note before I go any further it’s unlikely you could do all three of these activities in one day.

You could probably do two of them, such as the bungy jump and then the jetboating later in the day. It will cost you a lot of money if you did all three activities. If money is no object then go for it, if it is, consider which ones you’d like to do and prioritise those.

The jet boat is designed to get your heart pumping. You’ll be sped along at speeds of up to 90 km/h as you pass through narrow canyons and shallow water. It’s an exhilarating experience!

A ride in the jet boat lasts for approximately 25 minutes and will allow you to see the natural beauty of New Zealand up close and personal!

Queenstown itinerary – Day 3 

For your third day in Queenstown, I recommend taking advantage of some of the amazing places you can visit nearby. I’ve listed Milford Sound and Glenorchy, but there are others such as Wanaka that you could visit too.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is quite possibly the most incredible place in New Zealand. That is some statement because there are so many amazing places across the country. However, Milford may just be the best.

I remember the drive to Milford Sound and being awestruck looking out of the window and that was before we even got there! When we did, it was pouring with rain and cloud was obscuring the sound.

However, it was still incredible. I cannot imagine how amazing it must be when you can see the whole of Mitre Peak and marvel at its beauty.  If you visit, I recommend going on a boat trip. You’ll learn a lot about the sound and get so see it up close!

You will have to start the day early because it’s around a three to four-hour drive to Milford and the same back. But it’s worth it, due to how amazing the place is! You won’t regret visiting!

Glenorchy

Glenorchy

If you don’t fancy the drive to Milford Sound, you can visit somewhere closer to Queenstown, Glenorchy. It’s only 45 minutes from Queenstown and is an ideal place to visit for the day.

The town is located on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu, and like Queenstown, has some spectacular views. You can take advantage of this by doing several hikes such as the Routeburn Track.

As well as hiking, you can go kayaking and if you hadn’t already been jetboating, you can do it here too. You can even go horse trekking if you want to.

If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, then you’ll be excited to know that some of the scenes were filmed nearby. The locations for Isengard, Lothlorien and Amon Hen were all filmed nearby and are accessible by foot or jetboat!

Fergburger

Fergburger
Athn, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Once you return to Queenstown, you’re going to be hungry. So why not head to one of Queenstown’s most famous eateries, Fergburger.

This place has attained almost mystical status in Queenstown and New Zealand as a whole. I’d heard about it months before I visited and was eager to try it out. 

I wasn’t disappointed. So much so that every time we went back we always ate there at least once! Back then, I was still eating meat, but I stopped a few years ago.

Fergburger sells vegetarian and vegan burgers if you don’t eat meat like me. Of the burgers I tried back then, the pulled pork Chief Wiggum was my favourite!

Other places to visit in Queenstown

  • Wanaka – If you’re not content with the scenery that Queenstown has to offer, you can head to nearby Wanaka, which rivals the town for beauty. Wanaka is stunning and well worth exploring. You can go on numerous hikes, as well as searching out the famous tree that is all over Instagram!
  • Arrowtown – Arrowtown is a 15-minute drive from Queenstown and worth exploring if you want to see what life looked like over 100 years ago! It’s home to the fantastic Lake District Museum, which is worth the drive by itself!
  • The Catlins – Like Milford Sound, the Catlins is a good three to four-hour drive from Queenstown, but you won’t be disappointed if you make the journey. The area is stunning, with a rugged coastline and a lot of marine life!

Queenstown travel tips

Where to stay in Queenstown

As one of the main destinations for many people backpacking New Zealand, Queenstown has a lot of places to stay. You’re split for choice when it comes to accommodation.

There are so many hostels in Queenstown, you’re unlikely to not find a bed if you’re travelling there late in the day. We did this multiple times and always found somewhere for three of us to stay.

As Queenstown is a sociable place, the hostels were friendly and lively places with a lot going on. Nomads hostel was my favourite out of all the hostels I stayed at. The staff were excellent and the facilities were great, and it’s right in the heart of Queenstown.

If you’re not a backpacker, then you’ll have no trouble finding a hotel or an apartment to rent. Most of the economy of Queenstown is centred around tourism.

There are plenty of hotels and apartments to stay at. The only choice you have to make is whether you want to close to the centre or outside it.

Below is a list of the best places to stay in Queenstown that I’ve put together for you to check out!

Cost of travel in Queenstown

Mountains covered in snow above Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

New Zealand isn’t the most expensive place in the world, but it’s not the cheapest either. Queenstown is one of the cheaper places to visit in the country, but that does depend on what you spend your money on.

As Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, there are a lot of activities you can do. If you don’t budget, these can eat into your finances very quickly.

A bungy jump and skiing trip will cost in the region of $500, especially if you have no skiing gear. Setting a budget before you go is essential.

The good news is that accommodation and food and drink are reasonably priced. You can spend 3 days in Queenstown without breaking the bank and spending a fortune!

The following prices are for the traveller who has an average budget. That is someone who is not going to splurge, but someone who will not be travelling on an ultra-frugal budget either.

They don’t include prices for extras such as nights out at a bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenirs/clothing purchases, tours. etc. You will have to budget extra for these purchases as they are ‘non-essential!’ 

Here’s a rough breakdown of essential travel costs in Queenstown:

All prices in NZD

Bed icon

Accommodation

Hostel: Dorm – $17-40; Private – $60-100
Hotels: $100-150
Rental Apartment: $100-150+

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Food and Drink

Breakfast: Free-$
Dinner: $15-20
Takeaway meal: $8-12
Pint of beer: $5

 

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Transport

City Metro / Bus: $4/$2 with Bee card
Taxi from Copenhagen airport to city centre: $14

Best time to visit Queenstown

Auckland to Queenstown road trip

This is a tricky question to answer. One of the main appeals of Queenstown is that it’s close to the ski fields in the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. If you visit during the winter months, you’ll have ample opportunity to go skiing.

The downside to this is that the weather will be a lot colder. You’re unlikely to get temperatures above 10 degrees. Summer is warmer, but you’ll have to contend with more tourists and you won’t be able to go skiing.

I’m not sure there is a best time to visit Queenstown. I visited the town at various points during the year and enjoyed it each time. Similar to the best time to visit New Zealand, you can visit Queenstown year-round.

It didn’t matter whether it was winter or summer, there was always something going on. I’d say that the best time to go to Queenstown is whenever you can!

The winter sports factor will be a big influence for many, but even if you don’t visit in the winter, there’s still more than enough to do during the rest of the year.

How to get around Queenstown

Queenstown isn’t the biggest place, so getting around is easy. You can reach most places on foot and as Queenstown is a beautiful outdoors destination, you should do too!

The centre of town is small and will take you a few minutes to explore, while the rest of the town, including the lake and botanic gardens, is easy to navigate with your own two feet.

If you drove into Queenstown, you’ll have no difficulty getting around. You can hop in your car and get to the suburbs and other places if needs be.

If you’re not using a car then there is a public transport system in Queenstown. Buses serve the town and the surrounding area and the prices aren’t too expensive.

You can use the bus if you need to get around, but for most places in the centre, walking is fine!

Is 3 Days in Queenstown Enough?

3 days in Queenstown will allow you to see everything that one of the best destinations in New Zealand has to offer. Every time I visited Queenstown during my working holiday in New Zealand, I had a great time!

There’s so much to do here and it’s such a fun place that you can’t help but enjoy yourself while you’re there!

Have you been to Queenstown? Did you visit the places listed on my itinerary, or do you visit other places? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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How to spend 3 days in Queenstown