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Queenstown is not only known for being the adventure capital of the world. It’s also known for being the perfect place to go on holiday with the family. There are so many things to do in Queenstown with kids of all ages, from cave exploring, to farm tours, horseback riding and watersports.
So, if you’re planning to go on holiday to New Zealand soon, make sure to include some of these fun activities in your Queenstown itinerary.
Tips For Visiting Queenstown With Kids
Queenstown is a popular destination in New Zealand all year round simply because there is so much you can do!
There is no bad time of year to visit with kids, yet the type of things you want to do in Queenstown may influence when you visit. Especially if you are planning to enjoy the many winter sports and activities in July and August.
When visiting Queenstown with kids, stay central if you do not have your own transport. You can easily get around on foot to many of these attractions.
We recommend the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park for a budget-friendly cabin, caravan and campervan accommodation. It is an easy walk into town and near to food and attractions.
Now let’s check out the best things to do in Queenstown with kids:
Skyline Gondola & Luge
It’s hard to miss the Queenstown cable car when you arrive in town, with the Skyline Gondola visible as it makes its way up and down the mountain.
The Skyline Gondola is the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere and totally kid-friendly! It takes you 450 metres above Queenstown to the top of Bob’s Peak, with incredible views of Lake Wakatipu from the top.
It looks like a spaceship lit up at night, being so high above the town!
Then choose to ride the Gondola back to the bottom, or go for the ultimate Queenstown family activity by riding the Luge down instead!
The 800 metre luge track is suitable for all ages and will likely become a favourite experience for the kids (and you too!). If you’re feeling daring enough…
Cruise The Lake
For something a little more laidback, a cruise is perfect! No matter what season you are visiting Queenstown, the TSS Earnshaw is a wonderful way to enjoy Lake Wakatipu.
The iconic steamboat will delight kids and is a peaceful way to get out on the water without having to get wet.
Plus you can combine your TSS Earnshaw steamship cruise with a farm visit!
Walter Peak Farm Tour
New Zealand is known to be famous for its sheep, so why not go on a memorable trip to the Water Peak High Country Farm!
This tour gives you the opportunity to see and learn about the sheep shearing process on an active working farm. There’s also the opportunity to feed the animals and stroll through the lakeside gardens.
At the end of your visit, enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch or afternoon tea to keep the family fed and happy!
If you want something a little more energetic and fast-paced, jet boating is a must-do Queenstown activity.
This is one of the top things to do in Queenstown and will certainly appeal to the adrenaline junkies!
Paddleboard, Paddleboat, or Kayak
What a fun way to spend a sunny day on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown! What’s better than getting mesmerized by the beauty of the surroundings and the lake?
The whole family, especially the kids, will love having a day out to paddleboard, paddleboat, or kayak– and these family activities are suitable for all ages.
While you may not be as keen to do these Queenstown water sports in winter, it is a beautiful way to explore the lake and surrounding scenery, while getting a little exercise too!
The Queenstown Gardens sit alongside Lake Wakatipu and offer several fun activities for families.
Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the gardens or compete against your family and friends at a game of Frisbee golf. This is a fun twist on golf using frisbees that the kids will love!
There is also an epic waterfront playground that we could barely drag our kids away from. There is play equipment for all ages, perfect to burn off some energy or work up an appetite.
The gardens are also home to the Queenstown Ice Arena where you can go Ice Skating or ride Ice Bumper Cars.
Feed The Ducks
This is one of the most simple things to do in Queenstown with kids, yet we had so much fun doing this.
You can purchase duck food at either the wharf area of the lake or within the Queenstown gardens. It is $2 for a bag of food and there is an honesty box set up.
The ducks are so used to people feeding them that you can hand feed many of them. This was such a cool experience that we all loved.
Sometimes it’s the most simple things that kids love best. Plus it’s a very cheap activity to do in Queenstown, which is known for being a somewhat expensive destination.
Wild Kiwi Encounter
New Zealand’s national bird is the Kiwi bird, however, there aren’t that many of them left in existence.
It’s also VERY difficult to spot them in the wild, as they are nocturnal.
The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a perfect, family-friendly activity to experience with the kids. They will have the opportunity to see the Kiwi and learn about them and the conservation efforts to increase their population.
The Wild Kiwi Encounter Tour leaves from Oban daily in the evenings. You will need to make the short trip to Stewart Island for this tour.
Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
The adventure begins with a magical cruise across the Lake Te Anau, which is the largest lake found on the South Island. Then continues with the magnificent limestone caves that are home to the glow worms.
Your guide will give you information about the glow worms and the history of the cave, along with geological information and facts.
If you would like to expand your journey, add the short guided forest wall to learn about the region’s fauna and flora.
Milford Sound (8th Wonder of the World)
New Zealand is not only surreal in nature, it’s unbelievably beautiful. Milford Sound is no exception.
Milford Sound is home to an abundance of wildlife, mountainscapes and cascading waterfalls. And this is a day trip you should make time for when visiting New Zealand’s South Island!
There are a variety of activities that can be done, such as overnight cruises, nature cruises, and kayaking.
Or for something truly special, take a helicopter or small plane tour for the ultimate views!
There are also many great deals for children joining tours for free during certain times of the year.
We visited Milford Sound via a coach and cruise day trip with Jucy Cruises, leaving from Te Anau, however, you can also join the tour from Queenstown. It takes a bit longer to get there, making it a big day overall, but one you won’t soon forget!
For an authentic and relaxing backcountry experience, enjoy horse riding in Queenstown, with three spectacular locations to choose from.
Be prepared to be amazed by the picturesque sights, surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The best part is that horse riding is suitable for riders of all abilities, including beginners! This is a great family activity when visiting Queenstown with kids.
The three locations to choose from are Walter Peak, Dart Stables, and Ben Lomond Trekking.
Or head to Cardrona Valley for horse riding with views over Lake Wanaka and the Crowne Range.
Central Otago Wineries
There are more than 100 wineries near Queenstown making it a paradise for wine lovers. While not the most kid-friendly activity, if you have the time, it is worth stopping in to sample some of the local drops.
Or if you want to sample some local wines without leaving the centre of Queenstown, visit The Winery. Grab a charge card and glass, sample the wines of your choice and pay at the end. Such a cool concept!
This was definitely one of our favourite grown-up activities in Queenstown… and the kids enjoyed their organic apple juice while we sampled a couple of wines each.
Visit Wanaka & Arrowtown
If you are keen to explore beyond Queenstown, Wanaka and Arrowtown are both an easy drive. In fact, you can visit them both in one day and enjoy what each has to offer.
Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town that will have you feeling like you’ve just stepped back in time.
It’s a great place to take a stroll down the main street and explore some of the shops and local cuisine.
Wanaka is much bigger, with a few fun attractions for the kids, such as Puzzling World. Here you can enjoy optical illusions, unique photo opportunities and a massive outdoor maze.
During the warmer months, they have many different water sports, cruises and activities on Lake Wanaka. You will also find many places to dine or enjoy a drink.
Queenstown Winter Activities
Winter is a popular time of year to visit Queenstown and you will find the city a hub of activity during the snow season. The icy temperatures bring in bigger crowds, due to the proximity to some of the South Island’s best ski fields.
If you want to hit the ski fields, you can easily get to Coronet Peak, located just 20 minutes from town. Or head a little further out to The Remarkables Skifield, which is around 45 minutes from Queenstown.
Both offer ski lessons for kids and beginners, as well as plenty of fun for more experienced skiing and snowboarding.
For visiting with kids, if you just want to have fun in the snow without learning how to ski, there are a few cool places the kids will love. Our favourite was the Snow Farm NZ.
Here you can have a blast on the tubing hill. We all had a go and the kids loved it. They also offer snowshoeing tours and a few other family-friendly activities.
Where To Eat In Queenstown
You will have no trouble finding somewhere great to dine in Queenstown, but be warned… during the busy seasons, be sure to book ahead when you can!
While you can’t book, you can phone your orders ahead and enjoy a famous burger at Fergburger. The lines are crazy long most of the time, although they move relatively quickly.
For drinks, snacks and coffee and baked goods visit the Ferg Bakery next door and Mrs Ferg, which faces Lake Wakatipu too.
The Cow offers an authentic Italian dining experience with a great atmosphere.
Speight’s Ale House was our favourite dinner in Queenstown. Here you can enjoy the full Speight’s Brewery range of beers on tap, along with hearty meals cooked to perfection!
For a sweet treat, Cookie Time is a cookie bar where you can get freshly baked cookies, milkshakes and other delicious ice cream desserts. Very popular but worth the wait!
Time to start planning your epic Queenstown itinerary with plenty of things to do for all ages! The hardest part will be finding enough time to do all the things you want to do during your stay.
For more help with planning your New Zealand trip, check out our 16 day South Island road trip itinerary and our guide to how much it actually costs to travel in New Zealand.